The Grammys: Music or Mayhem?

The awards show is becoming more about live performances with every passing year.

Reuters January 27, 2014
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr performed together at the event, a rare feat for the two surviving Beatles. PHOTO: FILE

LOS ANGELES: French electronic music DJs Daft Punk and New Zealand teen Lorde took home the top Grammy awards on Sunday, in a night that rewarded robots, newcomers and newly-weds.

In a first for the Grammys, or any big US awards show, thirty-three couples, were married during the event by singer Queen Latifah, to the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis anthem Same Love. Madonna emerged in a white suit and cowboy hat to conclude the singing ceremony with Open Your Heart.

The music industry’s glamorous gathering also saw the two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, come together for a rare joint performance coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the British group’s breakthrough on American television.

Quirky robotic duo, Daft Punk, scored a double win, with Album of the Year for Random Access Memories and Record of the Year with the summer dance hit Get Lucky, featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers.

“When I was drinking years ago, I used to imagine things that weren’t there were frightening. Then I got sober and two robots called me and asked me to make an album,” quipped Paul Williams, one of the featured artists in Random Access Memories.

Formed in the early 1990s by French DJs Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Daft Punk were pioneers of the electronic dance music phenomenon that has recently swept the US mainstream pop industry.

Lorde, 17, won the Grammy for Song of the Year with her breakout hit Royals, sharing the award for songwriters with Joel Little. They triumphed over the writers behind Katy Perry’s Roar and Bruno Mars’ Locked Out of Heaven, among others.

The Recording Academy also anointed Seattle-based rapper-producer newcomers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with the Grammy for Best New Artist. They also swept the rap awards and presided over arguably the most dramatic moment of the night, the marriage ceremony in a cathedral-like setting.

“Before there was any media, before there was any buzz about us, before there was a story, there was our fans and it spread organically through them,” said Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, as he accepted the award for the duo.

With McCartney at the piano and Starr at his drums, the two played a new song, Queenie Eye, a catchy tune that hearkened back to the Beatles’ trademark hits. It was only the fourth time they had performed together on stage since a 2002 concert to honour the late George Harrison.

The 56th Grammy Awards, which saw the music industry’s top honours handed out by the Recording Academy across 82 categories, may be remembered more now for its performances and unscripted moments than the awards that are bestowed.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2014.

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