This year’s Grammy Awards were poised for a rap explosion.
Instead, a feeble poof filtered out of the Staples Center as only Seattle’s Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – a duo that Grammy voters almost didn’t allow in rap categories – landed a meaningful punch.
The pair scored four of their seven nods, including best rap performance and rap song for their musical piffle “Thrift Shop” and bested Jay Z, Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West for best rap album (“The Heist”).
Macklemore, in a green velvet suit, said upon the duo’s best new artist win, “I want to thank our fans, the people who got us on this stage before there was any media, before there was any buzz about us, before there was a story, there were fans.”
Lamar, also up for seven awards, left empty-handed, as did Drake, who earned five nominations.
Enigmatic French producers Daft Punk, along with Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, were the other notable winners, nabbing a pair of awards for “Get Lucky” – record of the year and best pop duo/group — while also earning the night’s biggest prize, album of the year for “Random Access Memories.”
“I bet France is really proud of these guys right now,” Pharrell said, speaking for the “robots,” the helmet-clad Daft Punk.
The 56th Annual Grammy Awards, which aired live from Los Angeles Sunday, launched with a raunchy performance from Beyonce – whose recently released “Beyonce” album will surely nab several nominations next year when it’s eligible – who was joined by the year’s top nominee, her husband, Jay Z, for a strip club rendition of “Drunk in Love.”
Jay Z entered the night with nine nods (though he could feasibly only win seven because of double nominations in two categories). The rap kingpin exited with two wins – for best rap/sung collaboration for “Holy Grail” (with Justin Timberlake) and best music video with Timberlake’s for their duet, “Suit & Tie.”
The new kids on the block fared well, as 17-year-old New Zealander Lorde (born Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor) won the prestigious song of the year and best pop solo performance for her quirky “Royals” and country darling Kacey Musgraves, 25, scored for best country album (“Same Trailer, Different Park”) and best country song (“Merry Go ‘Round.”).
As for Georgia’s winners, Tasha Cobbs, a native of Jesup and a pastor of worship at the Dream Center Church in Atlanta, won her first-ever Grammy for best gospel/contemporary music performance for “Break Every Chain.” Clad in a midnight blue gown, Cobbs accepted her award during the pre-telecast and dedicated it to her father.
While the rest of Georgia artists’ nearly two dozen nominations went to other acts, Imagine Dragons’ drummer Daniel Platzman, a graduate of Paideia School whose family lives in the Druid Hills neighborhood, was victorious with the band’s win for best rock performance for “Radioactive.”
As has become tradition in the past several years, the live show focused more on performances than awards (the majority of trophies in the ceremony’s 82 categories were handed out in that pre-telecast).
Oddly interesting pairings are the keystone of the show, which has adroitly adapted to changing trends and the ascent of social media.
Macklemore & Lewis presented likely the most chattered-about moment when they, Mary Lambert and Trombone Shorty unleashed their strikingly candid gay rights anthem, “Same Love.”
The moment included the exchange of rings and marriage of 33 couples, presided over by Queen Latifah and capped with an appearance from Madonna singing the refrain of her classic, “Open Your Heart.”
Earlier in the show, Robin Thicke joined with ‘70s soft rockers Chicago for a medley that included “Saturday in the Park” and “Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is?” before seguing into Thicke’s multi-nominated yet shut-out “Blurred Lines.”
But it was the fiery combo of Imagine Dragons and Lamar that infused the show with a much-needed injection of adrenaline. Though Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” was largely overshadowed by Lamar’s intense rapping, the white-clad ensemble and pink swirling lights electrified the performance.
The magic of that moment was eclipsed moments later when Sir Paul McCartney – a two-time winner on Sunday who factored in two other awards – paired with Ringo Starr for the first time since 2009 for “Queenie Eye,” a song from McCartney’s “New” album.
The Beatles, who celebrate the 50th anniversary of arriving in America on Feb. 9, were bestowed with a Lifetime Achievement Award before the show.
Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams and Stevie Wonder also blended talents for the groove-fest “Get Lucky” with a touch of Chic’s “Le Freak,” while both John Legend (“All of Me”) and Taylor Swift (“All Too Well”) presented beautifully stripped down versions of their respective songs.
The Grammy Awards are voted on by members of The Recording Academy. Eligible works were released between Oct. 1, 2012 and Sept. 30, 2013.
For more on the Grammy Awards, visit The Music Scene blog at accessatlanta.com.