It was royally a good hard day's night at the 56th Grammy Awards at Staples Center on Sunday night for the lucky French electro-pop duo Daft Punk and a New Zealand teen named Lorde.
Two of the big awards, album of the year and record of the year, went to Daft Punk. They also won best duo/group performance
Coming to the stage in their trademark helmets, they did not speak. Instead, producer/singer Pharell Williams, who worked on the duo's “Get Lucky,” spoke for “the robots”: “Of course, they want to thank their families,” he said, drawing laughs.
In only their second TV appearance ever, Daft Punk also had one of the best performances of the night. They were joined onstage by Williams — who earlier in the day had won the Grammy for non-classical producer of the year — as well as Stevie Wonder and Nile Rodgers. The Chic frontman was also a producer on “Get Lucky,” the song of the year from their winning album “Random Access Memories.” They performed “Get Lucky”/ “Freak Out”/ “Another Star,” which had everyone in the audience — from Paul McCartney to Yoko Ono to Katy Perry and Beyonce — dancing in the aisles.
“Well, hello, this is what I did not expect the most about tonight,” said Lorde, who won best pop solo performance for “Royals,” a sly critique of materialism. It was also named song of the year.
Lorde wrote it with Joel Little for her album “Pure Heroine.” Earlier in the evening, she sang “Royals” following the best new artist announcement. It was odd that she wasn't a new artist nominee: a little more than a year ago, the 17-year-old, whose real name is Ella Yelich-O'Connor, was uploading songs to the music-sharing site SoundCloud.
Perhaps the closest thing to an emotional highlight was the pairing of the two remaining Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, who were honored almost 50 years after the legendary band first came to America.
As John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, danced in the audience, McCartney performed “Queenie Eye” from his new album “New,” accompanied by Starr. When Ringo walked out from behind the drums to give his former bandmate a hug, the audience erupted in cheers.
The pair received the Recording Academy's lifetime achievement award on Saturday. A television special featuring the duo as well as the Beatles' first appearance on CBS' “The Ed Sullivan Show” will be broadcast Feb. 9 on CBS.
As for Sunday's ceremony, it was, as usual, long on spectacle and short on real musical significance, seeming to award everyone. There were more performances than awards (20 to 10) with 72 of the 82 Grammys given out at an afternoon ceremony. Yet there were a number of talented acts showcased throughout the night.
A nice surprise was Kacey Musgraves — considered a real country artist — beating out Taylor Swift for best country album for her album, for “Same Trailer Different Park.”
“I can't put in words how much it means to represent the country genre,” Musgraves said backstage. The onetime “Nashville Star” contestant also won for best country song for “Merry Go 'Round.” Wearing an electric (literally) dress, she also performed “Follow Your Arrow.” While a favorite, Swift was shut out in the awards.
The winners of the best new artist award were Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. The irony of that, as everyone knew, was that that all five nominees have been around for years in one form or another.
“We made this album without a label,” said Macklemore, 30, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, upon accepting the award. The duo had won three Grammys earlier in the day, including for best rap performance for “Thrift Shop,” and best rap album, “The Heist.”
This year's Super Bowl halftime performer, Bruno Mars, took home the statuette for best pop vocal album for “Unorthodox Jukebox.”
McCartney received his 18th Grammy for “Cut Me Some Slack,” named best rock song, which he wrote with former Nirvana members Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear for the documentary “Sound City: Real to Reel.”
Grohl “asked me to do a jam on ‘Long Tall Sally,'” said the ex-Beatle. “I said, ‘No we've been there and done that. Let's make something up.'”
Backstage, McCartney, who earlier in the day won his 17th Grammy, jokingly blamed Johnny Depp “because he just gave me this cigar-shaped guitar,” which he decided to use in the recording.
With flashing lights and plenty of smoke, the evening opened with Beyonce sitting in a chair with her back to the audience. She and her husband, Jay Z, then performed “Drunk in Love” from her recent self-titled album.
After bringing the crowd to their feet, they walked off stage, his arm around her. However, Jay Z returned to the stage later when he won for best rap collaboration with Justin Timberlake on “Holy Grail.” He hd been up against himself and Beyonce for “Part II.” It was his only win, though he led in nominations going in.
There were a number of special pairings, like Robin Thicke with Chicago. They began with “Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?” and then a couple of other hit songs by the classic rockers before morphing into “Blurred Lines.” There were only two female dancers in the production, wearing more clothes than all the women combined in Thicke's video of the song.
Keith Urban dueted with Gary Clark Jr. on “Cop Car.” Earlier, Clark won traditional R&B performance for “Please Come Home.” Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons, who won best rock performance, did a smashup of “M.A.D.D.” and “Radioactive.”
Pink did her aerial acrobatics over Staples Center on her “Try” with Fun.'s Nate Ruess, and Starr had an all-star backing for his performance of “Photograph.”
Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson paired up for Jimmy Webb's “Highway Man.” Merle Haggard and Blake Shelton did “Okie From Muskogee.” Then they all performed “Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”
Carole King and Sara Bareilles — both on pianos — performed “Beautiful & Brave” a combination of the two songs. King was honored Friday at a gala for MusicCares, the Grammy's charitable arm. An Oscar nominee for the “Dallas Buyers' Club,” Jared Leto paid homage to the great rocker Lou Reed who passed away last year, before a pairing of hard rockers Metallica and the classical pianist Lang Lang on “One.”
Later, Billy Joe Armstrong and Miranda Lambert sang the Everly Brothers' “When Will I Be Loved,” as a tribute to the late Phil Everly. During a performance of “Same Love,” Queen Latifah performed a mass marriage ceremony.
To be eligible for a Grammy, albums must have been released between Oct. 1, 2012 and Sept. 30, 2013. Some — like Swift's Red” — came out so long ago, they may have lost their luster, but after all, it's the Grammys, and in the end the only thing for sure is that nothing is for sure.