Wow. Just wow.
Give me a moment I’m still reeling from everything.
The 56th Grammy Awards took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday morning (Singapore time), and WHAT A NIGHT IT WAS. Jam-packed with collaborations that originally elicited many a raised eyebrow from music critics, the mammoth three-and-a-half-hour event was effortlessly classy; a truly refreshing change from the trashy, bizarre antics we’ve had to endure in the past years. From the red carpet to the closing rock set, the Grammys were free of unnecessary drama and proved its mettle as music’s biggest, and most sophisticated, night. So sophisticated it even ended with a mass wedding!
To prove my point, let’s take a look at this year’s red carpet glamour, shall we?
DISCLAIMER: The writer is in no way claiming to be well-versed in fashion and upmarket couture. I am male and see only primary colours.
Taylor Swift ditched her desperate desire to take on a sexy, aggressive image, seen at previous awards shows like the AMAs and the VMAs; choosing rather to slip into something more… bulletproof. Her chain mail-inspired dress from Gucci was, in her words, “very heavy” and “like a suit of armour”. Maybe this elegant number is a hint that her brash “Red” era is coming to a close?
OMG YAAAS ARIANA YOU LOOK SO GOOD YAA-oh uh sorry. I’m a total Ariana Grande fanboy so I’ll try to be objective here okay. Meh. It’s alright. But in all seriousness, this look is fast becoming old. Her floral, retro gowns have made an appearance on the red carpet one too many times and it’s about time she switched it up a little. The Sam & Cat star herself has acknowledged this, tweeting “i’ll change up my style when i’m ready to, enjoying the last of my retro phase” after she left the ceremony early for unknown reasons. Either way, WATCH THIS SPACE.
Fashion police panelist Kelly Osbourne juggled her dual roles as star and press, as she covered the red carpet’s looks on behalf of E! News. Her trademark lilac hair complemented the black number from Badgley Mischka she had on, and that’s saying something because come on.. how many people can carry off hair in that bright a shade of violet?
I’m going to put this as nicely as I can. It is.. weird. But still, it’s not bad, considering the wackier wardrobe choices she’s made in the past. The incredible thing is that Katy Perry is just so amazingly likeable that no one with a heart could ever give her flak about her dresses. Plus, her hair game is hella strong. Just look at it.
The gentlemen were exceptionally well-dressed this year, with many, like Macklemore, choosing to don swanky velvet over drab black.
But then we have this.. the night’s substitute for Gaga-level red carpet ridiculousness: seven-time nominee Pharrell Williams’ HAT.
Warning: it gets uglier every time you look at it. The brown hat has garnered so much attention it even has it’s own Twitter account. Not even Madonna‘s attempt at upstaging everyone with a grill and a cane could set so many tongues wagging.
Pictured here with her son David, Madonna rocked a Ralph Lauren Spring 2014 tuxedo along with a cane, though that was due to a recent dance injury. Her grill? Madge explained that she wore the oral jewellery because it “pisses everyone off’. Fierce.
Following the relatively tame red carpet appearances, the stars were then ushered in to face the King and Queen of the music industry themselves. Music royalty was scheduled to kick things off, and reliably, they delivered. Beyoncé and Jay Z brought a sultry opening to the Grammys, with a seductive performance of Queen B’s second single “Drunk In Love” from her killer fifth album.
Way to intimidate every other performer for the night.
LL Cool J, host for the third consecutive year, proceeded to give a short speech. Within a span of ten minutes he managed to squeeze in words honouring Pink, Keith Urban, and The Beatles, among others, as well as throw shade at Taylor Swift for her blunt songwriting.
The beautiful Anna Kendrick (AKA “The Cup Girl”) and seven-time nominee Pharrell Williams presented the first award of the night. Anna and Pharrell joked that they were originally scheduled to perform “Drunk In Love” but cancelled “cos I (Anna) got the flu”. The night’s first General Field award for Best New Artist was presented to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
Though they were visibly nervous, the duo thanked “fans; the people that got us to this stage… before the media and the buzz”, granting closure to all their indignant hipster fans who loved them before “Thrift Shop” exploded. Closing his short speech, Macklemore made an anti-industry shoutout a la Lorde by proudly stating that “we made this album without a record label”.
Lorde performed her 2013 hit “Royals” accompanied by just two band members. Adopting a stripped-down, minimalist style usually favoured by YouTube cover artists on a budget, Lorde presented a starkly different production, but still clung on to the same T-Rex dance moves.
Nevertheless, her unorthodox stage choreography is yet another mark of the 17-year-old’s individuality; genuine or otherwise.
Dubbed the next “country prince” (Source: Tyler Oakley), Hunter Hayes took to the stage to perform “Invisible”, a song he described as being “incredibly personal” when he was a guest on The Ellen Show last week.
The song will most likely serve as the lead single from his second album to be released this year.
EDM hit “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and Pharrell Picked up Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, which would (SPOILER ALERT) foreshadow their Record Of The Year win later.
Heralded by a giant screen depicting thunder and a deep, ominous voice, Katy Perry brought her trademark visual spectacle to the Grammys with a hair-raising performance of her latest single, “Dark Horse” with rapper Juicy J. Clad in black with a bright red cross across the front, the witchcraft-themed item was interspersed with synchronised dance routines and even some pole dancing around giant broomsticks.
A sectioned horse also made a cameo, possibly inspired by the lion or dragon dances Katy may have seen during her recent trip to China.
American soft-rock veterans Chicago performed “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”, “Beginnings”, and “Saturday In The Park”, three of their biggest hits, alongside everyone’s favourite douchebag Robin Thicke. While the pairing might appear ridiculously random at best, Robin Thicke does actually possess an enjoyable voice.
Just as the world was beginning to enjoy his pipes sans nudity, the set took a sudden turn by switching over to Thicke’s (unfortunate) hit “Blurred Lines”. Like a high-budget musical adaptation about the undoing of pop culture, female dancers appeared on cue to back Thicke up as the elderly members of Chicago tried to keep up with his raging libido.
American Idol judge Keith Urban picked up immediately where Robin Thicke left off, performing his fresh new hit “Cop Car” on a simple, spotlighted stage alongside guitarist Gary Clark Jr.. Have you realised how country artists ALWAYS deliver?
John Legend quietly graced the stage, performing “All Of Me” behind a piano. His clear vocals and emotive delivery made this one of the most amazing performances of the night. Simple and understated, the piano/vocal only-style was to remain as a regular feature in many performances throughout the night.
Best Rock Song was presented to Dave Grohl (of Foo Fighters), Sir Paul McCartney, Krist Novoselic, and Pat Smear for “Cut Me Some Slack“.
Yet another bum rested on the piano stool as Taylor Swift chose a dimly-lit, understated stage set (surprise!) for her performance of “All Too Well”, even though it was not a single from her nominated album “Red”. While the song is about her short-lived fling with Jake Gyllenhaal, the mournful lyrics are a marked turn from the venom immortalised in “I Knew You Were Trouble”.
Tumblr had a field day as TayTay began headbanging over the piano. She ended her song with a solemn stare straight into the camera.
Is this classic heart broken ex-girlfriend Taylor? Or does she want him back? We’ll just have to wait for her next album to find out.
Scheduled Super Bowl 2014 half-time performer Bruno Mars introduced Pink and Nate Ruess, with the ex-acrobat starting off the empowering single “Try” with her twirling in mid-air above the audience.
Pink effortlessly landed on the main stage and engaged in a mock fight scene similar to the song’s music video. While the tumbles were rehearsed, they didn’t look any less painful.
How she does all that while holding a tune will forever be a mystery. The set then seamlessly switched to ‘Just Give Me A Reason”, her duet with fun. frontman Nate Ruess (who was sporting a mustache usually depicted on caricatures of lechers). The track is also nominated for Song Of The Year.
“The Way” hitmaker Ariana Grande and concussion-giver Miguel introduced the nominees for Best Pop Solo Performance, where a much-anticipated showdown between similar-sounding hits “Brave” and “Roar” (by Sara Bareilles and Katy Perry respectively) was awaiting its final judgement.
Surprisingly, Lorde‘s “Royals” took home the trophy, and the surprised New Zealander cobbled together a thank you speech without dissing the industry. Not today.
English rock veterans Black Sabbath introduced Ringo Starr, who gave an upbeat performance of his 1973 single “Photograph” in front of a digital montage of old photographs of The Beatles in their heyday.
“Holy Grail” was honoured as Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, and Jay Z accepted the Grammy with a personal message to his daughter Blue. “Look! Daddy got a gold sippy cup for you” is a rap verse just waiting to happen.
Imagine Dragons showed up onstage clad completely in white, with the powerful hook from their hit “Radioactive” making way for their paired artist Kendrick Lamar’s “m.A.A.d city”.
THIS WAS INDEED THE MASHUP OF THE NIGHT. The energy in the room reached electrifying levels and got many artists in the audience onto their feet. That said, THIS Vine of Taylor Swift being gangster is all you’ll ever need.
Best New Artist nominee Kacey Musgraves reigned in the high energy in the room with a calm rendition of her country single “Follow Your Arrow” with fairy lights draped over her band members. With vocals that are reminiscent of Taylor Swift in her “Fearless” era and facial features similar to British pop star Cher Lloyd, Kacey definitely has the LOOK of a star, but does she have *Simon Cowell voice* “the X factor”..?
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr joined forces once again, in a great big throwback to the years of The Beatles. Performing Paul’s newest single from his new album “New” (hehehe), the duo made many, many fangirls very happy. Although said fangirls are probably fanwomen now.
Gloria Estefan and Marc Anthony then introduced the nominees for Best Pop Vocal Album, with Bruno Mars’ sophomore studio album “Unorthodox Jukebox” beating competitors Lana Del Rey (“Paradise”), Lorde (“Pure Heroine”), Robin Thicke (“Blurred Lines”), and JT (“The 20/20 Experience) to claim the 2nd Grammy win of his career.
Actor Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye from The Avengers) strolled onstage to introduce country artists Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson, both from the 80’s country supergroup “The Highwaymen” who survived a rendition of Merle Haggard‘s “Okie from Muskogee” before the original singer joined them onstage along with Blake Shelton, making the latter the only performer onstage younger than 70 years old. Imagine that.
Continuing the country fest, Martina McBride and Zac Brown presented Best Country Album to Kacey Musgraves’ fourth studio effort “Same Trailer Different Park“, in a shock win over country favourite Taylor Swift’s “Red”.
Born showman Neil Patrick Harris waxed lyrical about the to-be performers, and rightfully so. Stevie Wonder joined Pharrell and Nile Rodgers for an organic performance of the Record Of The Year-nominated hit “Get Lucky”.
With a stage set up to replicate a recording studio, the first half of the track was smooth and feel-good, before helmeted duo Daft Punk appeared in the now-lit mixing room with their signature robotic vocoder sounds. Disco hit “Le Freak” by Nile Rodgers’ band Chic was seamlessly mashed into the performance. An all-round excellent number.
Cyndi Lauper introduced the next amazing collaboration, a double piano setup featuring Sara Bareilles and MusiCares’ Person Of The Year Carole King.
After a short, simple mashup of “Brave” and “Beautiful” which left us hungering for more, the duo presented the second General Award, Song Of The Year, to Lorde’s “Royals”. With two big wins for “Royals” alone, at this point I was desperately hoping she wouldn’t pick up Record Of The Year as well.
Thirty Seconds To Mars frontman Jared Leto offered up a tribute to the late singer-songwriter Lou Reed, before introducing the bizarre pairing of heavy metal band Metallica and Chinese master pianist Lang Lang (#AsianPride).
The marriage of strident electric guitar power chords and classical runs surprisingly worked, though not to a spectacular degree.
Dat fire tho.
Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler disposed of the stiff and rigid style many a nervous presenter found themselves adopting on camera, in a way only he could. By bursting into a hearty rendition of The Beatles’ classic “You Really Got A Hold On Me”, and even getting the audience to sing along, Steven Tyler and co-presenter Smokey Robinson made possibly the best presenter banter of the evening.
Record Of The Year was presented to “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and Pharrell, along with the song’s producers and mixing engineers.
The most heartwarming moment of the night – and possibly Grammy history – came in the form of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ rousing performance of “Same Love”.
Joined by Mary Lambert, the song was to send a strong message in support of marriage equality, with 33 couples being wed in the midst of the audience by Queen Latifah.
Madonna then took to the stage clad in a white tux, singing her 1986 hit “Open Your Heart”, creating a meaningful mashup for the newlyweds.
Miranda Lambert and Billie Joe Armstrong from punk rock band Green Day graced the stage after a tribute montage of music greats that passed this year (where they misspelled Cory Monteith’s name sigh) and performed an abridged version of “When Will I Be Loved” in memory of the late Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers, the original recording artists of the song.
Alicia Keys, Yoko Ono, and Olivia Harrison rounded up the night’s awards by presenting the last award; the Best Album Of The Year. As Alicia held the “R” consonant a second longer than expected while announcing the winner, Taylor Swift‘s split-second shock reaction thinking that she had won with her album”Red” has gone viral online.
There there, TayTay, you’ll get it (again) someday.
Turns out, the real winner was “Random Access Memories” by Daft Punk, making this the French duo’s fifth Grammy win in one night.
Presenting: this year’s biggest winner. Daft Punk, you slayed 2013. Bow down.
The unusually-long evening finally came to a close with a massive rockfest helmed by Nine Inch Nails, Queens Of The Stone Age, Dave Grohl, and Lindsey Buckingham. “Copy Of A” and “My God Is the Sun” were the outro to the spectacular 56th Grammy Awards.