It began with a outrageous duet by Lady Gaga and Elton John — the former wearing a sequined green leotard and giant shoulder pads, the latter dressed in black and covered in ash — but it didn't take long for the host of last night's Grammy Awards to acknowledge that the real star of the American music industry in 2009 had been a rather more dour figure.
Susan Boyle, in other words.
Or as the comedian Stephen Colbert described her, "a 48-year-old Scottish cat lady with sensible shoes".
Indeed, even though Lady Gaga dominated the red carpet and Beyonce cleaned up during the event with no fewer than six trophies — a new record for most wins by a female performer — it was SuBo who loomed large over the Grammys, a feat she somehow managed in spite of not showing up (her mega-selling album was released too late for consideration).
Not that the attention was always flattering. "Justin Timberlake may have brought the sexy back," deadpanned Colbert in his comic opening monologue, "But Susan Boyle sent it away again."
No such jokes are likely to be made if Boyle dominates the nominations next year.
One British singer, 32-year-old Imogen Heap, threatened to steal Lady Gaga’s reputation for wearing the most outrageous outfit when she arrived on the red carpet.
Singer-songwriter Heap, who won a Grammy for Best Engineered Album, wore what was dubbed a “twit dress” - a huge necklace with a live Twitter feed and a “TV” purse to display videos her fans were sending to her account.
Meanwhile, aside from Beyonce's multiple triumphs, including Song of the Year and Songwriter of the Year for Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It), it was the Kings of Leon who took home one of the biggest awards of last night when their song Use Somebody defied expectations by winning Record of the Year, beating everyone from Lady Gaga to Taylor Swift.
"I'm not going to lie, we're all a little drunk. But we're happy drunks," said the band's singer, Caleb Followill.
As for top honour of Album of the Year, it went to Swift, the 20-year-old country singer who had eight nominations for Fearless, second only to Beyonce's ten nods. Swift, the youngest artist to prevail in the greatly-coveted Album of the Year category, won a total of four prizes during the evening, including Best Country Album.