The Grammy Awards were on last night. The annual presentation of awards and accompanying performances is a cultural phenomenon that, much like the MTV Music Awards, divides the country into two camps: you either love it, or love to hate it. Regardless of how you feel, here’s a summary of the night’s festivities.
All The Pop Culture References You’ll Need to Know
Yes, awards are presented at The Grammys. Yes, memorable performances are given at The Grammys. But what really makes award shows worth watching is all the other stuff that happens in between these activities. Here’s the cream of the crop of The 2014 Grammys gossipy tid bits:
It had it’s own Twitter account before the main event was event under way. Early jokes compared the Producer of the Year to Smokey the Bear, but the ultimate in brand leverage came when Arby’s suggested Pharrell had stolen the brand’s iconic hat found in their logo.
— Arby’s (@Arbys) January 27, 2014
Jay Z’s fatherly shout-out during his acceptance award.
“I wanna tell Blue, Daddy got a gold sippy cup for you!” — Jay Z, accepting the Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collab
Goth is in, apparently.
From Lorde’s dip-dyed fingertips and dark red lipstick to Katy Perry’s bizarre homage to The Craft to Pink’s elegant black maxi skirt for the ground portion of her performance with Nate Ruess from the band fun.- it was hard not to notice the nods to Gothic fashion as a recurring trend last night.
Lorde still can’t dance.
Endless opportunities to hate on Taylor.
Who’s bright idea was it to put Taylor Swift in the front row at The Grammy’s? I guess the upside is that it offered the perfect angle to catch her terrible white-girl dancing on camera during Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragon’s standout performance (more on that below).
What was even better was when she thought she beat Daft Punk for Album Of The Year.
There was this, too.
Pepsi’s “Halftime Show”
Can we please just have a night dedicated to music without football references? Unlike Arby’s clever real-time reaction to Pharrell’s hat, Pepsi flexed its branding muscle by throwing lots of money at a cheesy “Halftime Show” commercial spot. It was Corporate America at its best: mass marketing for a cola, endorsed by singing celebrity football players, and Mike Ditka swinging on a football-shaped wrecking ball. Instead of it being ironic that these classic sports icons were performing in some kind of weird role reversal, it was a weak attempt to capitalize on a broad audience gathered for reasons having nothing to do with sports.
Ringo or Bono?
Best Performances (in order of appearance)
Beyonce and Jay-Z
The power couple kicked of The Grammys telecast with provocative class. As every man, woman, and child in America watched in awe, Beyonce opened the set sitting backwards on a chair that rotated her curvaceous body like a showroom car. Looking like she was fresh out of the shower with limp, blonde locks and dark smudged makeup, Beyonce sang with conviction and looked straight into the camera with come-fuck-me-eyes. As everyone in her presence dreamed of doing exactly that, Jay Z appeared to round out the second half of the sultry duet. Though he did manage to grab-ass once or twice, the pair kept it mostly PG-13 with back-to-back dancing as the song came to a close.
Pink’s performance was no surprise to anyone who’s seen her at The Grammy’s before, but it was still an impressive testament to the girl’s rock hard body and incredible physical talent. After her fluid performance on aerial silks, Pink touched down for a sexy dance with a shirtless male dancer that was no less physical than her airborne contortions.
Oh yea, that guy from the band fun. was there, too.
Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons
Unarguably the most energetic and vibey performance of the night, this melding of hip hop and electro pop couldn’t have been a better match. Bookending Kendrick’s verses in the middle with generous substance from Imagine Dragons on both ends added validity to the set and presented them as equals, not as one featuring the other. The mashup of “Radioactive” and “m.A.A.d City” was strange enough that everyone took notice, but it was the convincingness with which it was performed that really sold the performance.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
The song “Same Love” was already a standout track for its conscious lyrics about love between two members of the same sex. So when Queen Latifah presided over the union of 33 couples (gay and straight) mid-song, it elevated the awareness and support for gay marriage to new levels. Shots of the audience showed celebrities across the room wiping tears from the corners of their made-up faces as the song concluded. Kendrick and Imagine Dragons may have had the most energy, but Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, Queen Latifah, and Madonna had the most emotional and touching set of the night.
Buzzfeed’s tweet summed it up best:
Katy Perry watched The Craft and was like, “yes, that, sure.” https://t.co/BisyG9NUPd
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) January 27, 2014
And that’s really all the discussion that performance warrants.
All the country sets
When did country music become so popular? Oh, wait. It isn’t.
But seriously, I’m really okay with all of these terrible country performances built in to The Grammy’s because it gives me additional time to fix a drink or let the dog out to pee. Who actually thought The Grammys needed this much of a country presence?
- Taylor Swift
- Billie Joe Armstrong and Miranda Lambert in tribute to Phil Everly
- Merle Haggard, 2014 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Blake Shelton (this one was actually cool)
- Hunter Hayes (this one was the worst)
- Keith Urban
- Kacey Musgraves (Oh, hey girl! I didn’t know LA Gear made cowboy boots!)
The Actual Awards
The Grammy Awards consist of much, much more than was seen during the nearly four-hour long telecast and gives acknowledgment to everyone- from instrumental composers to world music to regional roots and best album notes. SPIN has all the categories, nominees, and winners here, but I thought three in particular would be of interest to Indy Mojo’s electronic-loving audience:
Best R&B Performance: Snarky Puppy With Lalah Hathaway, “Something”
Most of you had the chance to see these guys at Hyperion 2013! For reference, they were up against the following nominees in the same category:
- Tamar Braxton, “Love And War”
- Anthony Hamilton, “Best Of Me”
- Hiatus Kaiyote (feat. Q-Tip), “Nakamarra”
- Miguel (feat. Kendrick Lamar), “How Many Drinks?”
Best Dance Recording: Zedd (feat. Foxes), “Clarity”
Zedd was up against the following nominees in the same category:
- Duke Dumont (feat. A*M*E & MNEK), “Need U (100%)”
- Calvin Harris (feat. Florence Welch), “Sweet Nothing”
- Kaskade, “Atmosphere”
- Armin Van Buuren (feat. Trevor Guthrie), “This Is What It Feels Like”
And since I still believe Duke Dumont should have won this category, here’s that video:
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical: Pharrell Williams
Pharell was up against the following nominees in the same category:
- Rob Cavallo
- Dr. Luke
- Ariel Rechtshaid
- Jeff Tweedy
Finally, it’s worth noting that Daft Punk walked away with five Grammy wins (Album of the Year; Best Dance/Electronica Album; Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical; Record of the Year; Best Pop Duo/Group Performance), more than any other nominee. Unfortunately, their lackluster performance failed to meet everyone’s sky-high expectations. It was good, but it wasn’t intergalactic-stellar.
What was your favorite part of The Grammys 2014?