When it comes to the Grammys, we hope for the best and prepare for the worst. What we want are show-stopping moments to talk about at work, the kind that send Twitter into a sputtering frenzy. What we get, at times, is a whole lot of pianos and Jared Leto reciting the lyrics to “Walk on the Wild Side.” On one hand, the viewing audience saw Daft Punk perform on national TV. They also saw Steven Tyler try and sing Smokey Robinson, in front of Smokey Robinson.
Still, that’s the nature of most award shows– the good (anything Lorde did), the bad the Everly Brothers tribute was rough), and the uncomfortable (we all saw Beyoncé, Jamie, calm down). But if there’s one thing to be grateful for, it’s that nary a hashtag was uttered by host LL Cool J this year. With that in mind, we put together a few of the hits and misses of the 2014 Grammy Awards. –Erin Carson
Hit: The Unexpected Dominance of Daft Punk
Have we all accepted our robot overlords one day later? Yes? Good. Much to the dismay of Daft Punk fans ‘round the world and Stephen Colbert, we were forced to endure a summer of “Get Lucky” without any live robots to accompany the success of Random Access Memories (though that endurance was survived with copious boogying in the style of last night’s Yoko Ono, so the hardship wasn’t too real). But that all changed yesterday as Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter embarked on their first televised performance in six years and their first live performance since 2010 (though that’s no excuse for the hoards of people still without a clue who the duo is). To return to the stage with Pharell, Nile Rodgers, and Stevie Wonder in tow for a medley of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”, Chic’s “Le Freak”, and Stevie’s “I Wish” is a historic move only made more meaningful by the heap of trophies the duo took home.
Few could have predicted the duo would collect five Grammy awards, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year, especially considering they’d only nabbed two since their inception back in the early ‘90s (in 2009, “Harder Better Faster Stronger (Alive 2007)” won best Dance Recording and Alive 2007 took homeBest Electronic/Dance album). And say what you will about the hats, but what better spokesperson than Daft Punk superfan and lucky collaborator Pharell for the two helmet-clad electronic musicians? “Dude. On behalf of the robots. Man. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Now to sit and wait and wish for what went down last night to manifest in the form of a tour or at least a festival performance or two. Give the people what they want, robots. –Amanda Koellner
Miss: The Rap Categories
It can be hard to hate on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, what with the rags to riches success story (as Macklemore said upon snagging one of the duo’s four Grammys, “I want to say, we made this album without a record label”), giant gestures for marriage equality, and genuine enthusiasm for this life they’ve found themselves living. But even Macklemore knew Kendrick Lamar deserved a golden gramophone, as he posted a photo of his text message to Lamar post-show to Instagram saying, “You got robbed. I wanted you to win. You should have. It’s weird and sucks that I robbed you.”
Lamar’s major-label debut, good kid, m.A.A.d city, catapulted him into hip-hop royalty, allowing him to compete for the title of rap king throughout the duration of 2013, but The Recording Academy failed to understand and better yet, recognize. And while Kanye West’s Yeezus topped year-end lists across major publications and blogs as last year came to a close, he received only two nominations, also despite the fact that in his 36 years, the Chicago M.C. has received a whopping 21 Grammys.
“And Yeezus is the top one or two album on every single list,” he said in a rant against the awards show at a tour stop in Phoenix last December. “But it only gets two nominations from the Grammys. What are they trying to say? Do they think that I wouldn’t notice? Do they think that, someway, I don’t have the power to completely diminish all of their credibility at this moment?” Kanye was completely absent from the festivities, and it’s hard to believe he would stay away from that spotlight forever.
Meanwhile, Kendrick completely dominated the broadcast during his performance with the lackluster Imagine Dragons (the unusual pairing didn’t matter when Lamar had the mic, completely slaying any dragons trying to take the stage’s spotlight), proving his worth a million times over without any help from the Academy. –Amanda Koellner
Hit: Kacey Musgraves Became a Superstar
Country newcomer Kacey Musgraves had a good night, despite the odds. To start, she had the nearly impossible task of following Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragon’s explosive performance. What her rendition of “Follow Your Arrow” lacked in bombast, it made up for in the sharp songwriting that also won her a Grammy for Best Country Song (“Merry Go ‘Round”). Plus, there were those light-up cowboy boots.
To top it off, Musgraves took home the Grammy for Best Country Album for Same Trailer Different Park, beating out seven-time Grammy-winner Taylor Swift, as well as other established acts like Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, and Jason Aldean. A win for Musgraves was a win for the kind of country music that’s turning away from recycled tales of trucks and Daisy Dukes. –Erin Carson
Miss: Paul and Ringo’s Reunion
Fifty years after The Beatles came to America, we’re still clamoring to see them. That’s why when Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr walked off the stage after one song (“Queenie Eye” off McCartney’s recent album New) our hearts broke a little. Beatlemania remains a national affliction. It was great to hear Ringo sing “Photograph,” amidst the many he took himself (and who knew Starr was taking selfies back in the ’60s?), and it was also nerdily neat to see the piano from Magical Mystery tour, but the performance felt meager.
After all, Justin Timberlake, and to a lesser degree, NSYNC got an eight+ minute chunk of time at last year’s telecast. Granted, it’s only been four years since the remaining members of the Fab Four played together, and there will always be another anniversary on the horizon, but this Beatles reunion felt like barely more than a perfunctory nod to that time they were in a band together. –Erin Carson
Miss: The Premature Cut-off of Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor, Josh Homme, and Lindsey Buckingham
Just as soon as fans of rock ‘n roll collectively expressed their desire for a Nine Inch Nails/Queens of the Stone Age/Dave Grohl summer tour, the glory happening on our screens faded away in favor of a Delta commercial and Criminal Minds snippet. The temporary supergroup had just wrapped up NIN’s “Copy of A” and found themselves in the midst of QOTSA’s “My God Is the Sun” when the telecast came to a close, and Reznor later took to Twitter to say, “Music’s biggest night… to be disrespected. A heartfelt FUCK YOU guys.” Fair enough, though it is interesting the frontman would describe the awards show with such weight, considering he once told The Hollywood Reporter the Grammy’s don’t matter and feel rigged and cheap.
Plus, recent iterations of the show have seen the same thing happening to the night’s final performers as the broadcast runs consistently late (ok, except for when Macca closed the show, but who would dare cut that man short?). Regardless, the pairing of these artists (more Lindsey Buckingham, always!) was a wonderfully weird way to end a show filled with ups and downs, so we’re just happy for the ability to watch it in full thanks to the Internet. –Amanda Koellner