Grammy Awards 2014: 33 Weddings and A Beyonce
The 56th Annual Grammy Awards were a muddle of good performances, strange hats and mixed emotions
Ah, the Grammys. They promise so much, and deliver… a medium-sized amount. The fashion is… meh. A slightly scary/slightly concerning combination of rawk-chic on Halloween and sexy strumpet in her big sister’s closet. The presenters are dull. (LL Cool J, you might be cool but you’re no Tina Fey.) And the performances… well, okay, they’re a mixed bag of amazing and mediocre.
Things got off to a promising start when Beyoncé emerged from a cloud of smoke, straddling a chair on a rotating podium and singing Drunk in Love. Then Jay-Z appeared and it felt like we were intruding on a private moment. The rest of the night’s performances were… fine. Pink did her rope acrobatics. Taylor sat at a piano and sang.
But it’s a sad state of affairs when the most outrageous thing at the Grammys is a hat. It belonged to Pharrell, was designed by Vivienne Westwood, and was last seen on the cartoon character Smokey Bear (the US wildfire prevention icon), who responded by having a great (yet conscientious) time on Twitter. (“Thanks @Pharrell for a memorable #GRAMMYS night. Only you can prevent wildfires.”) Pharrell later redeemed himself with a pretty cool performance of Get Lucky with Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers and the one and only Stevie Wonder.
But with no Miley Cyrus and no Lady Gaga in sight, the Grammys were on the back foot from the start. Madonna was there, all buttoned up in a black Ralph Lauren suit, but showing us she’s still ‘gangsta’ by teaming it with her favourite gold grill (and a hat, what’s with the hats?). She walked the red carpet with her son David, who also wore Ralph Lauren but not, to his annoyance, a grill. “She told me she’d get me one for my next birthday!” he told E! host Ryan Seacrest, before Madonna butted in with “OK, shush, quiet."
Before the show, the thing we were most excited about was seeing 33 couples – same sex and straight – get married live on air while Ryan Lewis and Macklemore (catch them at Future Music Festival Asia in March) sang their Grammy-nominated hit, Same Love. Queen Latifah was officiating, and the couples – in the few glimpses we got of them – looked happy, but then Madonna hobbled out on a walking stick (she’s recovering from a dance injury apparently), wearing a white cowboy hat, to sing and it all got a bit… overwrought. The celebs watching at home, of course, loved it. Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, Kelly Clarkson and dozens more tweeted so. Keith Urban cried like a baby, which was pretty sweet, but for us, by desperately trying to wring out every last emotion from the moment, the show’s producers veered into a kind of mawkishness that left us cold.
They should have taken a cue from Lorde, who won Song of the Year for Royals and Best Solo Pop Performance. Her straightened curls, fingertips that seemed to have been dipped in ink, and now-standard purple lipstick were oddball cool at its finest. Romantic, ethereal and memorable, all without trying too hard.