With most awards shows, it seems like you're just as well off — or better off, even — watching from the comfort of your own living room. This year's Grammy Awards were the opposite. The producers opted to name and give out all but 10 of the awards before the cameras started rolling, so most of the 56th Grammys telecast was live music. They got the show off to a big start with the much-anticipated performance by Beyoncé and Mr. Beyoncé, Jay Z. (Watch above)
Those little moments of silence you hear during Beyoncé's racy performance of "Drunk In Love" (and elsewhere in the show) aren't a technical problem with your viewing device — it's the censors at CBS working overtime. Just one more reason it would have been better to sit through the 10 award presentations (Lorde and Daft Punk won the top honors) to watch the performances live.
Everybody may have been expecting the Beyoncé–Jay Z extravaganza, but almost nobody anticipated the mass wedding that took place near the end of the Grammys. Toward the end of the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis song "Same Love" — a love letter to gay rights — 33 couples (gay and straight) were apparently legally married by officiant Queen Latifah, with Madonna and a gospel choir performing "Open Your Heart" as a sort of benediction. This was perhaps the buzziest moment of the night.
"So many think pieces are going to be written about this performance," says Kevin Fallon at The Daily Beast, perhaps a little optimistically. "But at the end of the day this was a wedding. A freaking huge wedding. And damn it if I can't help but cry at weddings."
The mashup of unexpected musical collaborators is apparently now a thing at the Grammys. Probably the strangest such performance was from Metallica and classical pianist Ling Ling, banging out Metallica's "One." But the most talked-about mashup was Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar performing the rock group's "Radioactive" and rapper Lamar's "good kid, m.A.A.d city," with an explosion of red paint at the end.
Not all of the performances were pyrotechnics and flashing lights. To commemorate the music of the late great Phil Everly, Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong and country singer Miranda Lambert performed a one-guitar, two-voices version of the Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be Loved."
Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson also got together to reprise a song from their days as members of the outlaw-country supergroup the Highwaymen — the other two, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, died last decade. They were joined halfway through by Merle Haggard and relative newcomer Blake Shelton, who essentially poked good-natured fun at the whole outlaw country scene with Haggard's hit, "Okie From Muskogee."
If you don't know who Lorde is, Samantha Rollins has you covered. And here's the 17-year-old New Zealander performing of a stripped-down version of "Royals," the song that won her Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance honors Sunday night:
Taylor Swift's pop-country ballad "All Too Well" wasn't the best female country song of the night — Kacey Musgraves' "Follow Your Arrow," from her Best Country Album Same Trailer Different Park, was superior on the merits — but Swift's hair-tossing and final stare-the-audience-into-giving-her-a-standing-ovation moment make this a performance to remember:
The only place to end the highlights of the 2014 Grammys is with the night's most ebullient moment, Daft Punk's infectious "Get Lucky," performed by the robot-clad French duo and vocalist Pharrell Williams, but more impressively Stevie Wonder, disco-era guitarist Nile Rodgers, and a solid backup band. How fun was this performance? Just watch the audience:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- I hate Ayn Rand — but here's why my fellow conservatives love her
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- 10 things you need to know today: July 23, 2014
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- The weird obsession that's ruining the GOP
- Why are so many parents being arrested?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 9 things you probably didn't know about the moon
- Why America is duty bound to help Iraqi Christians
Subscribe to the Week