Collecting the Grammy for best Pop Duo went to Get Lucky, as performed by Pharrell Williams, Niles Rogers and those precocious French digital dance wizards known as Daft Punk. Of course Daft wore their trademark headgear onstage to collect, which prompted Williams to lead off the acceptance speech with, “On behalf of the robots…” That got a laugh.
Here’s something you don’t see every day: Daft Punk – performing live for the second time only – who appeared onstage with Stevie Wonder and Pharrell Williams and Niles Rogers. The performers were supposed to be in a recording studio setup, but it looked more like a rec room. The group went through the first several bars of the song, but where was Daft Punk? Then the helmet-clad duo suddenly appeared in the DJ booth, and the song shifted to Rogers’ Freak Out. The mashup even had Katy Perry dancing in the crowd. Unfortunately, so was Sir Paul McCartney.
Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler came out with Smokey Robinson to present the award for record of the year. Tyler vocally screeched his way through the opening lines of Robinson’s You Really Got A Hold on Me, which flustered Robinson, before they announced the winner: Get Lucky. By this time, the two Daft Punk boyos were in all-white suits with white helmets. As before, they did not speak after taking the stage, but collaborator Pharrell Williams spoke for them: “The robots would like to thank…,” said Williams revisiting his earlier joke. “Honestly, I bet France is really proud of these guys right now.”
The other performances
FEELING THE MUSIC
At least one mega-star in the audience got caught in an awkward moment. During Kendrick Lamar’s rather overblown version of Radioactive, several stars in the first few rows of the audience started dancing, among them, Taylor Swift, who performed a stiff-legged shuffle vaguely mindful of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. Get this girl an oil can!
KENDRICK ON TOP
In addition to Daft Punk’s seventies-loving Get Lucky segment, the other top live piece was the hyper-energetic show by rockers Imagine Dragon and rapper Kendrick Lamar. Neither won a trophy, but their strobe-lit, in-your-face mash-up of the former’s anthemic Radioactive and the latter’s m.A.A.d City was seamless, inspired and its own reward.
The much ballyhooed on-stage marriage of 34 (or 33) straight and gay couples – apparently officiated by Queen Latifah, whose title was thought to be ceremonial – was the sweeping moment it was expected to be, although the appearance by a Colonel Sanders-suited and frozen-faced Madonna added nothing to the occasion. The segment was set to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's Same Love, a gay-rights single featuring an empowering rap from Macklemore and a hook sung powerfully by Mary Lambert.
KATY PERRY DID NOT ROAR
For her live performance, the pop singer Katy Perry chose to sing the moody hip-hop influenced track Dark Horse instead of her hit anthem Roar. The number was heavily choreographed, involving a giant see-through sphere, scary trees, a War Horse-styled puppeted beast and broomstick pole-dancing. The over-the-top spot no doubt scared her pint-sized fan base, while bewildering most everyone else. She failed to win an award.
THICKE WAS THIN
Robin Thicke joined veteran horn-rock outfit Chicago for a medley of Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is, Saturday in the Park and Thicke’s controversial smash summer single Blurred Lines. No twerks, and no sparks. Earnest keyboard ballads – Grammy got their money’s worth on the piano rental – included over-serious emoting from Hunter Hayes and John Legend. Taylor Swift was equally solemn, but her fierce, hair-tossing rendition of the break-up ballad All Too Well was strongly presented.
What were we saying about the freakish appeal of country music? Because today’s country scene isn’t limited to Taylor Swift, the Grammys’ last hour brought out a stage turn from Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, with a combined age of nearly 160 years. Then out came Merle Haggard, who sang his trademark song, I’m Proud to be an Okee from Muskokee, replete with steel guitar and backing vocals from Blake Shelton. The only thing missing was bales of hay onstage.
The recent passing of Phil Everly seemed to hold more weight than the other deaths in the past year. Apparently, Cory Monteith, the Glee star who died last year, had his last name misspelled during the segment, with the I and E being inverted. Following the extended In Memoriam segment, country star Miranda Lambert and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong teamed up in the show’s dying moments to perform The Everly Brothers’ When Will I Be Loved?
CANADIANS AT THE SHOW
Expat pianist Chilly Gonzales shared in Daft Punk’s album-of-the-year win. Rapper Drake was shut out. Vancouver-born, Montreal-based children's musician Jennifer Gasoi won best children's album for Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well, while Michal Bublé toppled Tony Bennett to take the prize for best traditional pop vocal album, for To Be Loved.