Robots ruled the 56th annual Grammys. Daft Punk seized both Album and Record Of The Year for Random Access Memories and “Get Lucky,” respectively, plus Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Dance/Electronica Album for a total of four awards. Their cohort Pharrell tacked on Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical in the pre-telecast and took home the award for largest hat in spirit (his outfit was “Buffalo Gals“-inspired, in case you were wondering). The RAM crew also teamed with Stevie Wonder for the night’s most universally beloved performance, so it’s fair to say Daft Punk won the Grammys by every possible measure. And they didn’t even have to stay up all night to do it! Pharrell’s right: “I bet France is really proud of these guys right now.”
That means a Macklemore & Ryan Lewis sweep didn’t happen as predicted, although the Seattle rap duo did take home four awards including Best New Artist and all three rap categories (Album, Record, and Song), doing their part to keep Kendrick Lamar off the board entirely. Macklemore did spread the love in another sense, though: During a performance of “Same Love,” 34 couples got the Western-themed, Queen-Latifah-officiated, Trombone-Shorty-and-Madonna-cameo wedding they always dreamed of. Rounding out the major categories, Lorde took home two Grammys for “Royals” including Song Of The Year and Best Pop Solo Performance, and she busted out her zombie moves:
Sir Paul McCartney also won twice, and in the year’s biggest upset, his fellow Beatle Ringo Starr somehow performed twice — once doing his own “Photograph” and once playing drums on Macca’s “Queenie Eye.” (Lang Lang also double-dipped on performances, duetting with Metallica on “One” — you can always count on the Grammys for untimely performances of 26-year-old songs — and paying tribute to pianist Van Cliburn.) Justin Timberlake seemingly wasn’t in the building, but he did win a pair of awards with Jay Z (Best Music Video for “Suit & Tie” and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Holy Grail”) and appeared in commercials for two separate companies in which he surprises fans. Jay Z did make it on stage, once to claim a “gold sippy cup” for Blue Ivy and once to grab Beyoncé’s butt during their show-opening rendition of “Drunk In Love” — a fitting dessert after breasteses for breakfast.
Country upstart Kacey Musgraves won two statuettes including Best Country Album and Song and gave a charming performance of “Follow Your Arrow” amid Christmas lights and neon cacti. Does that mean Taylor Swift, who slayed her Dashboard-reminiscent “All Too Well” but won zero Grammys last night, has been dethroned as country crossover queen? It at least means Swift won’t be establishing a Grammy dynasty just yet. Yoko Ono also did her best to dethrone Taylor as audience dancing queen, but Taylor held it down during the collaboration between Imagine Dragons and Swift’s fellow Grammy loser Kendrick Lamar.
Kendrick got a raw deal on every level: He didn’t win a damn thing; that occasionally thrilling Imagine Dragons collab was ultimately pretty Korny; and Yoko could barely even pronounce m.A.A.d. city. Of course, that gaffe seemed minor compared to a few seconds earlier when Alicia Keys, standing right next to Yoko, said “John Legend” when she meant “John Lennon.” Awkward! And as long as we’re on the subject of Beatles-related awkwardness, Jamie Foxx should probably practice his British accent at home for a while before trying it in public again.
What else? Neither Katy Perry nor P!nk won anything, but each of them gave elaborate, entertaining performances with lesser-known male duet partners (Juicy J and Nate Ruess, respectively) and starred in CoverGirl commercials. Robin Thicke also went home empty-handed and fit in a little too well during his performance with Chicago. Keith Urban and Gary Clark Jr. traded guitar solos galore. Tegan And Sara’s Oreo commercial aired. Steven Tyler wore his Wayne Coyne Halloween costume, while Ozzy Osbourne auditioned for the role of Bernie in the next Weekend At Bernie’s film. Host LL Cool J mostly stayed out of the way and never once uttered the word “hashtag.” LL did, however, acknowledge the thirtieth anniversary of Def Jam Records. Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, and Blake Shelton showed up to provide the requisite roots-rockin’, and Carole King helped non-winner Sara Bareilles with “Brave.” Lana Del Rey’s “Once Upon A Dream” cover debuted in a Maleficent trailer. For some reason Jared Leto was tasked with paying homage to Lou Reed (thankfully not by playing music), and Billie Joe Armstrong replaced Norah Jones with Miranda Lambert for a Phil Everly tribute.
And it all ended with an honest-to-god bang thanks to that much-hyped NIN/QOTSA/Grohl/Buckingham rockathon. The “Copy Of A”/”My God Is The Sun” medley was a reminder of a time when the genre was more than just a niche concern. It was nice to hear rock songs that were released within the past year for once instead of relics from a quarter century ago, even if they were performed by musicians well into middle age. This was a triumphant display by powerhouse talents and an exciting, off-kilter way to finish the night — so of course it was cut off early. That’s the Grammys for you: Some of the greats get lucky, but most of them get fucked.
Music's biggest night… to be disrespected. A heartfelt FUCK YOU guys.
— Trent Reznor (@trent_reznor) January 27, 2014