The Grammy awards were watched by 26.66 million people in the US, breaking an 11-year record for the biggest TV audience in the country.

They saw Lady Gaga emerging from a giant egg and an all-star tribute to soul queen Aretha Franklin.

And they also saw the band Arcade Fire scoop a milestone album-of-the-year Grammy for their album, The Suburbs.

Viewing figures were up around 3 per cent from last year’s audience of 25.87 million, the broadcaster CBS said.

While the annual music awards were watched my millions, the critics’ reviews of the awards night held in Los Angeles, California, were mixed.

The Hollywood Reporter’s critic called it “lousy” and “badly paced”.

“The 53rd annual Grammy awards went on longer than a Bruce Springsteen concert,” wrote Tim Goodman. “And not in a good way.”

The Los Angeles Times was more positive, saying “the line-up’s generational range was impressive”.

“In the end the spirit belonged to the future, as unpredictable and fragmented as it may be,” wrote Ann Powers.

Country trio Lady Antebellum won five prizes, including song of the year and record of the year for their hit Need You Now.

Lady Gaga went home with three awards, as did rapper Jay-Z and soul star John Legend.

Despite Arcade Fire’s big win, the band’s after show celebrations were low key, especially compared to its efforts after the 2008 show where they “went to all the after-parties, popped in at every single one, ate food and checked out how people celebrated”, according to the Montreal group’s drummer, Jeremy Gara.

“We (Gara’s wife, Jen and friends) sat by the pool with a glass of Champagne,” Gara said. “It was really low-key, the way it should be. There were no cameras. Nobody knows who we are or what we look like anyway. It was a perfect end to the evening, being with the people we love most.”

It might be an overstatement to say no one would recognize the group members.

For Gara, Barbra Streisand’s apparent confusion as she opened the winning envelope and read the name of their album summed it all up.

“It was like, ‘Who?’ ” he said, laughing. “There was definitely a moment where we thought, ‘Is it a mistake?’ There was a split second of ‘No way. They must have made a clerical error.’ “