It’s easy to poke fun at the Grammy Awards. It’s easy to watch the 3+ hour annual telecast and say things like, “Today’s music is a terrible,” or, “I wish I was born 40 years ago when people actually knew good music.”
This annoys for a few reasons. For one, there is so much music out there today that it’s impossible to not find something you like if you search hard enough. For another, people forget that the Grammys is a celebration of today’s popular music. If you’re mad about what’s popular in today’s music, then you’re as much to blame as anyone else.
If you’re watching the Grammys, then you know exactly what to expect. All of those songs you’ve heard on the radio the last 12 months, and complained about endlessly — all the while secretly uploading them to your iPod — are going to be on full display. There’ll be a mix of contemporary and classical musicians of all genres, and inevitably, some unexpected surprises.
Sunday night’s 56th Annual Grammy Awards gave us all of that.
The big winner on the night was Daft Punk, the French electronic music duo who raked in five Grammys, including Album of the Year for Random Access Memories. Anybody who was unfamiliar with the group until last night was probably caught off guard by their appearance. For anyone wondering, here’s what Daft Punk — also known as Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalet — look like without their helmets on.
And speaking of bizarre appearances: Pharrell Williams’ hat. I know Pharrell is one of those R&B stars who define what’s cool, but come on. The dude looked like Elmer Fudd. Although it did evoke some great Tweets by Arby’s and Smokey the Bear.
Besides that, the night was a celebration of the Beatles, or at least their two living members, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Not that there ever needs to be an excuse to celebrate the Beatles, but the angle was that next month will mark the 50th anniversary of their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, which spurred the onset of the group’s popularity and a British Invasion in music. McCartney is the one who often gets the love of the two, so it was nice to see Ringo get his moment. It should also be noted that he looks pretty damn great for his age (73.) (No homo.)
Other big winners on the night included Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (four Grammys) and Lorde (two Grammys, including Song of the Year), the latter of whom nobody should have been surprised to hear had an accent — it’s been pretty well documented that she was born and raised in New Zealand. Still, for most of us, it was the first time ever hearing her speak.
Obviously the climactic part of the show was the matrimony of 34 couples — a mixture of gay and straight couples — during a performance of Macklemore’s “Same Love” featuring Mary Lambert, Madonna and Queen Latifah. I’ll admit that when I heard hours before the show that it was going to happen, I rolled my eyes and considered it a little over the top. But it did actually make for a nice moment, it clearly affected all those in attendance, and the significance of it was that it conveyed an industry-wide showing of support and solidarity for same-sex marriage.
That being said, at some point … Macklemore needs to make a career decision. Does he want to be a rapper, or the next Harvey Milk? Can’t do both. Although “Milklemore” could have a nice ring to it. Or not.
What else happened? Oh right, some interesting collaborations, including Stevie Wonder and Daft Punk, as well Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons (look them up yourself). The latter performance being so loud and intense that initially I felt terrible for Kacey Musgraves having to immediately follow it — and angry at the Grammy producers for putting her in that position — until about 45 minutes later when she won the Grammy for Best Country Album, and I no longer felt bad for her. She was also by far, by far, the hottest looking female last night. Fun fact: I saw her at the Bowery Ballroom in November, her first ever headlining show in New York City.
There was also that awkward moment when Taylor Swift thought the opening “R” in the announcement of Random Access Memories for Album of the Year was actually the beginning of Red, her own album which was also nominated.
Lastly, hours after the show, you had Macklemore texting Kendrick Lamar that he truly deserved to win Best Rap Album, and Trent Reznor being really pissed off off that the Grammy telecast cut off his closing performance of Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl and Lindsey Buckingham.
We can all now take a deep breath, and get ready for the next slate of songs that will become popular, play over and over — and over, and over and over, and over, and over — on the radio for the next 365 days, and will be celebrated lavishly during the 57th Annual Grammy Awards next year.
And then we can say how much music sucks again.