The 56th annual Grammy Awards will most be remembered for headgear, from Pharrell William’s oversized chapeaus to Daft Punk’s robot helmets.
We saw Pharrell a lot this evening, as he was the common denominator in two summer smash hits, “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk, so his rumpled Canadian Mounted Police hat was on wide display.
The telecast wasted no time moving into the dominant themes of the evening.
Katie Perry and Lady GaGa both had big hits, but it was newcomer Lorde who proved to be the Queen Bee with her song “Royals.” The earlier performance of this song should have tipped viewers that her night was going to keep going up. It was confident and impressive, without all the unnecessary contrivances most pairings included throughout the evening.
The 17-year old from New Zealand took home one of the night’s biggest wins for Song of the Year and maybe even more surprising, Best Pop Solo Performance.
The night’s first televised award went to rapper Macklemore and his producer/DJ Ryan Lewis for Best New Artist. This pair has been on a meteoric rise since 2012 when “The Heist” was released. “Thrift Shop,” “Can’t Hold Us,” “White Walls,” and “Same Love,” have earned this duo a string of sold out arena shows since.
“Thrift Shop won for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance. Their album “The Heist” scored Best Rap Album, beating out Jay-Z, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Kanye West.
But the night belonged to the machines.
Wearing tuxedos and their trademark robot helmets, Daft Punk set the tone early when “Get Lucky” won for Record of the Year, beating out the likes of “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, “Royals” by Lorde, “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars, and “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke.
They also took Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
The two Frenchmen stayed in robot character all evening, never speaking, switching from black tuxes and Gold helmets, to all white – it didn’t matter, Daft Punk won everything in their path.
Their album “Random Access Memories” scored Best Dance/Electronica Album, Best Engineered Album, and then took the big prize for Album of the Year.
What sets this track apart from other hit songs like “Thrift Shop” or “Blurred Lines” is no video is necessary to enhance its listenability. This tune ignites naturally with the driving guitar line, courtesy of Nile Rodgers, the co-founder of Chic.
Just to seal the deal Daft Punk blew out “Get Lucky” at the Grammy’s with their friends and Stevie Wonder. The entire arena was up dancing, which is the only instance when that occurred all night.
Interestingly, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” essentially got shut out, mainly because it was so heavily tied to the clean and boobalicious versions of the video.
I thought the pairing of Imagine Dragons with Kendrick Lamar worked well, as they ripped “Radioactive,” which took home the Best Rock Performance.
It was surprising to see Metallica bomb so huge. Taylor Swift not so much.
Speaking of sucking, the other major theme of the night was the ridiculous number of senior citizens that performed and somehow were nominated for awards.
I don’t get Paul McCartney taking home the Best Rock Song, even if the surviving members of Nirvana were involved. That the Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath were also nominated is tragic. Gary Clark Jr. is killing it, and “Panic Station” by Muse is an incredible tune. Either should have won.
Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney both gave morbid performances. There was a dreadful medley from Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard, who brought along Blake Shelton to keep the wheels from completely falling off.
Then I saw the “supposed” Best Rock Album category – I’m sorry but is it 2014 or 1975?
The nominees were: “Psychedelic Pill” by Neil Young & Crazy Horse; “The Next Day” by David Bowie; “13” by Black Sabbath; “Celebration Day” by Led Zeppelin; “Mechanical Bull” by Kings of Leon; and “…Like Clockwork” by Queens of the Stone Age.
Once again we have two artists that are current and the rest well past their prime. How did a Springsteen album not somehow wiggle into the mix?
Amazingly Led Zeppelin won this award. They don’t even have their original lineup on this recording. Bonham’s kid is on drums. It was a reunion the band did as part of a tribute show in 2007 for Christ sake!
I like this disc and grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, but it has no business winning anything. The Queens of the Stone Age recording was a number one record, and they have legitimately become the psychedelic troubadours of desert stoner music.
Overall this was an extremely uneven night, filled with mediocre music and contrived performances. This happens all the time on awards shows, but this year the underlying product was weaker than most. Even though Daft Punk carried the day, this isn’t by any means their best work.
The Grammy’s notoriously snub the rightful artists when they are creating their best work, and here was a vibrant chance for the recording academy to make up for past mistakes and give Daft Punk some well-deserved recognition.
There continues to be a shift in the musical landscape, as rap, rock, electronica and indie moping combine with Americana roots. Where this is going remains unclear. There is a decided darkness in this current generation, which is not surprising, but they have managed few artists of note thus far. It’s mainly riffs on performers and genres that have come before them.