LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - R&B singer-producer Pharrell Williams took two Grammy Awards on Sunday along with fellow early winners Rihanna and Eminem and Jay Z and Beyonce, ahead of the televised show that will serve up top winners and high-octane performances.
Pharrell, who went into Sunday with six nominations, beat out Beyonce in the urban contemporary album category with his record Girl, and his upbeat toe-tapping track Happy won best music video. He also has three nods in the album of the year category that includes his own album as well as his production work on Beyonce and Ed Sheeran's records.
R&B singer Rihanna and rapper Eminem won best rap collaboration for The Monster, while Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP won best rap album. Husband and wife Beyonce and Jay Z's steamy Drunk in Love won best R&B song.
In a sea of pop music's leading ladies at the Grammys, all eyes are on British newcomer Sam Smith with six nominations amid speculation that he could emulate Adele's 2012 sweep of the music industry's top honours handed out by the Recording Academy.
Much like Adele, who swept the Grammys with six wins, Smith, 22, is nominated in the night's top three categories for record, album and song of the year, after his debut album In The Lonely Hour stormed the American charts last year, led by his soulful song Stay With Me.
Ahead of the three-and-a-half hour live telecast of the Grammys, more than 70 winners in the Grammy's 80-plus categories were announced, including music for film.
Disney's animated princess tale Frozen showed no signs of letting go of its success, winning two Grammy Awards for best compilation soundtrack and best song for Let It Go in the music for visual media categories.
Alexandre Desplat, composer of The Grand Budapest Hotel, nominated for nine Oscars, won the Grammy for best score soundtrack for visual media.
The late comedian Joan Rivers posthumously won her first Grammy in the spoken word album category for Diary Of A Mad Diva, accepted by her daughter Melissa Rivers. "Honestly for my mother, winning a Grammy isn't that far-fetched as she felt comedy was music, there's a rhythm and instead of notes, there are words," Melissa Rivers said.
Another surprise early winner was Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai's I Am Malala, read by author and professor Neela Vaswani, nominated for best children's album and the only spoken word book in the category.
Vaswani told reporters backstage that while she had never met Yousafzai, she was proud to be spreading her message of resilience and the importance of education to young children.
While the televised Grammy show will award a handful of winners, including those for the top categories of the night, much of the show is dedicated to dynamic performances of the industry's biggest stars.
Smith and Pharrell will perform alongside a slew of chart-topping female singers including Ariana Grande and Rihanna, who will perform with Paul McCartney and Kanye West.
Singer Katy Perry, fresh off her Super Bowl performance last week where she flew across the stadium on a fireworks prop, will be toning things down to sing By The Grace Of God on Sunday with a survivor of sexual abuse joining her on stage.