Daft Punk, Macklemore Top Left-of-Center Grammys
The Grammy Awards celebrated outcasts and outsiders, lionizing a couple of French robots, white rappers and a country gal espousing gay rights, and a Goth teenager who's clearly uncomfortable with the current themes in pop music.
The Recording Academy's voters mined some of pop music's biggest hits to send an open-hearted message, awarding French electronic music pioneers Daft Punk for teaming with R&B legends to make a hybrid album that celebrated both genres, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kacey Musgraves for espousing gay rights and Lorde for her anti-swag message to the masses.
Daft Punk and collaborator Pharrell Williams won four awards, including top honors album and record of the year, and best new artists Macklemore and Lewis matched that with four of their own. Lorde won two awards for her inescapable hit "Royals."
Beyond their awards, each offered one of the more powerful moments at the Sunday night ceremony at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Lorde performed "Royals" wearing black lipstick and fingernail polish with little production, standing in opposition to the large-scale presentations from some of the night's other performers. Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo of Daft Punk continued the celebratory feel of their hit, record of the year "Get Lucky," by asking Stevie Wonder to join them with Williams and Nile Rodgers in a colorful performance. And Macklemore and Lewis invited 33 couples, including some of the same sex, to get married with Madonna serenading them and Queen Latifah presiding.
The moment brought tears to the eyes of Keith Urban and though the robots don't reveal themselves or speak in public, they had feelings about it, too, asking producer Paul Williams to relay their thoughts.
"It was the height of fairness and love and the power of love for all people at any time in any combination, is what they wanted me to say," Williams said.
The robots, clad in formal white suits and masks, spent much of the night humorously deferring to collaborators as they stood on stage. The job of spokesman often fell to producer of the year Pharrell, who guessed his way through a couple of acceptance speeches. "I suppose the robots would like to thank ...," he joked before noting, "Honestly, I bet France is really proud of these guys right now."
Their "Random Access Memories" was the year's event album, capitalizing on both the growing popularity of electronic dance music and the presence of popular music figures like Rodgers and Pharrell. They beat out reigning pop queen Taylor Swift, the odds-on favorite to win the award.
The award helps to square The Recording Academy with the burgeoning dance music crowd, who've been waiting for a major win since the Bee Gees' 1977 "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack, the last dance LP to win album of the year.
"If you go to the headwaters of EDM, electronic dance music, you'll find them," Paul Williams said.
Rodgers said the duo richly deserved the win after taking years to put the album together as they sought authentic musical moments that can only be recorded live by real musicians.
"The fact that they decided to put this much effort into the music and bring in musicians, it shows that they had an incredible vision and they believed that you actually achieve something greater by doing that," Rodgers said. "I happen to believe in that philosophy, too, that as a composer I can write a composition but when people interpret that composition it gets better."
Hours earlier, it looked like the day might belong to Macklemore and Lewis, a couple of virtually unknowns from Seattle who dominated the pop world with three huge hits that were wildly different and rivaled "Get Lucky" in popularity — "Thrift Shop," ''Can't Hold Us" and the gay rights anthem "Same Love."
They won three awards during the Grammys' pre-telecast ceremony — rap song and rap performance for the comical "Thrift Shop" and rap album for "The Heist," beating out Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Z and Kanye West in that category before taking major award best new artist. They're just the third rap act to win best new artist, but their wins in the rap categories are sure to chafe average hip-hop fans — especially after Kendrick Lamar failed to win an award despite seven nominations. The Recording Academy's own rap committee tried to exclude Macklemore and Lewis from the genre's categories before being overruled.
Queen Latifah, who was certified by the state of California to perform the wedding ceremony, spoke out after the show about rap being more inclusive.
"I think this is exactly what hip-hop is capable of," she said. "When I started rapping it was much more common for rappers to speak about different things going on in the world. We're part of the reason that apartheid (in South Africa) was changed. ... Or violence in the communities or anything that was some type of social injustice we've always been able to talk about through hip-hop."
Musgraves explored similar themes to take home country album for "Same Trailer Different Park" and country song "Merry Go 'Round," categories that Swift seemed destined to win given her history with the Grammys. Musgraves also performed a neon-inflected version of "Follow Your Arrow," a song that includes the line "Kiss lots of boys/Or kiss lots of girls/if that's something you're into" among other socially conscious messages.
And then there's the curious case of Lorde, the New Zealand teenager whose invitation to ignore all the status symbols and swag signifiers of pop music in her song "Royals" was one of the year's out-of-nowhere hits. She took major award song of the year and best pop solo performance.
The singer shyly summed up the experience in just a few words during her acceptance speech: "Thank you everyone who has let this song explode. Because it's been mental."
Winners from the 56th annual Grammy Awards
— Album of the year: "Random Access Memories," Daft Punk.
— Record of the year: "Get Lucky," Daft Punk with Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers.
— Song of the year: "Royals," Lorde.
— New artist: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
— Pop solo performance: "Royals," Lorde.
— Pop vocal album: "Unorthodox Jukebox," Bruno Mars
— Pop/duo group performance: "Get Lucky," Daft Punk with Pharrell and Nile Rodgers.
— Rap/sung collaboration: "Holy Grail," Jay Z with Justin Timberlake.
— Rock song: "Cut Me Some Slack," Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear.
— Country album: "Same Trailer Different Park," Kacey Musgraves.
— Traditional pop vocal album: "To Be Loved," Michael Buble.
— Rap performance: "Thrift Shop," Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz.
— Rap song: "Thrift Shop," Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz.
— Rap album: "The Heist," Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
— R&B performance: "Something," Snarky Puppy with Lalah Hathaway.
— Traditional R&B performance: "Please Come Home," Gary Clark Jr.
— R&B song: "Pusher Love Girl," James Fauntleroy, Jerome Harmon, Timothy Mosley and Justin Timberlake.
— R&B album: "Girl on Fire," Alicia Keys.
— Urban contemporary album: "Unapologetic," Rihanna.
— Rock performance: "Radioactive," Imagine Dragons.
— Rock album: "Celebration Day," Led Zeppelin.
— Hard rock/metal performance: "God is Dead," Black Sabbath.
— Alternative music album: "Modern Vampires of the City," Vampire Weekend.
— Dance recording: "Clarity," Zedd featuring Foxes.
— Dance/electronica album: "Random Access Memories," Daft Punk.
— Producer of the year, non-classical: Pharrell Williams.
— Latin pop album: "Vida," Draco Rosa
— Latin rock, urban or alternative album: "Treinta Dias," La Santa Cecilia.
— Latin jazz album: "Song for Maura," Paquito D'Rivera and Trio Corrente.
— Tropical Latin album: "Pacific Mambo Orchestra," Pacific Mambo Orchestra.
— Country solo performance: "Wagon Wheel," Darius Rucker.
— Country duo/group performance: "From This Valley," The Civil Wars.
— Country song: "Merry Go 'Round," Kacey Musgraves, Shane McAnally and Josh Osbourne.
— Gospel song: "If He Did It Before ... Same God (Live)," Tye Tribbett
— Gospel album: "Greater Than (Live)," Tye Tribbett.
— Blues album: "Get Up!," Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite.
— Folk album: "My Favorite Picture of You," Guy Clark.
— Americana album: "Old Yellow Moon," Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell.
— Bluegrass album: "The Streets of Baltimore," Del McCoury Band.
— Reggae album: "Ziggy Marley in Concert," Ziggy Marley.
— World music album: "Live: Singing for Peace Around the World," Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and "Savor Flamenco," Gypsy Kings (tie).
— Children's album: "Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well," Jennifer Gasoi.
— Spoken word album: "America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't," Stephen Colbert.
— Comedy album: "Calm Down Gurrl," Kathy Griffin.
— New age album: "Love's River," Laura Sullivan.
— Jazz vocal album: "Liquid Spirit," Gregory Porter.
— Jazz instrumental album: "Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue," Terri Lyne Carrington.
— Large jazz ensemble album: "Night in Calisia," Randy Brecker, Wlodek Pawlik Trio and Kalisz Philharmonic.
— Pop instrumental album: "Steppin' Out," Herb Alpert.
— Compilation soundtrack album: "Sound City: Real to Reel," Dave Grohl and various artists, Butch Vig.
— Score soundtrack album: "Skyfall," Thomas Newman, composer.
— Song written for visual media: "Skyfall," Adele and Paul Epworth.
— Musical theater album: "Kinky Boots," Cyndi Lauper, Billy Porter, Stark Sands, Sammy James Jr., Stephen Oremus and William Wittman.
— Producer of the year, classical: David Frost.
— Instrumental composition: "Pensamientos for Solo Alto Saxophone and Chamber Orechestra," Clare Fischer.
— Orchestral performance: "Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4," Osmo Vanska, conductor.
— Opera recording: "Ades: The Tempest," Thomas Ades, Simon Keenlyside, Isabel Leonard, Audrey Luna, Alan Oke, Jay David Saks.
— Choral performance: "Part: Adam's Lament," Tonu Kaljuste, conductor.
— Short-form music video: "Suit & Tie," Justin Timberlake featuring Jay Z, David Fincher, Timory King.
— Long-form music video: "Live Kisses," Paul McCartney, Jonas Akerlund, Violaine Etienne, Aron Levin and Scott Rodger.
— Historical album: "The Complete Sussex and Columbia Albums" of Bill Withers, Leo Sacks, Joseph M. Palmaccio, Tom Ruff and Mark Wilder, and "Charlie is My Darling," Teri Landi, Andrew Loog Oldham, Steve Rosenthal and Bob Ludwig.
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