The 56th Annual Grammy Awards January 26 went off without a hitch. Some of the music pairings sounded cringeworthy, with many people predicting that trainwrecks. Instead, performances were electric, eclectic mixes. There were many surprises in a field of performers loaded with talent. Ultimately, the 56th Annual Grammy Awards rates as one of the best televised concerts.
The evening kicked off with a sexy performance of 'Drunk in Love' by Beyonce and Jay-Z. When Jay-Z accepted his Grammy, he held it up and said to daughter Ivy, "I wanna tell Blue, look, Daddy got you a gold sippy cup." Robin Thicke teamed up with Chicago to sing some of their hits, along with an except of 'Blurred Lines,' with equal abandon.
Metallica thrilled with concert pianist Lang Lang. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr held court. Starr sang, 'Photograph,' before backing McCartney's vocals on 'Queenie Eye.' Daft Punk, already a wacky ensemble with former Chic and Duran Duran guitarist Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams performing 'Get Lucky' together with Stevie Wonder, occasionally shouting, "Freak Out" in homage to Chic's disco hit "Le Freak."
Hard rockers Queens of the Stone Age were joined by Nine Inch Nails, Lydsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mack, and Dave Grohl on drums. The solo performances held magic for Lorde, Taylor Swift, and Kacey Musgraves. Pink electrified with a song and aerial performance minus the net before singing a duet with Nate Ruess of fun. As a capstone, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis with their singer, Mary Lambert. They were joined by Reverend Queen Latifah who married 33 couples during the performance. Madonna joined in, singing some of her hit, 'Open Your Heart."
Miranda Lambert sang a duet with Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day who showed he actually is a little bit country, in honor of the late Phil Everly of Everly Brothers fame, . To appreciate the performance, one would have to let go of the idea of Armstrong as a punk rocker. The legendary singer/songwriter and 2014 MusicCares Person of the Year, Carole King, performed with Sara Barielles who reminded the audience of King's 1972 Song of the Year win for 'You've Got A Friend.' The pair were introduced by Cyndi Lauper who proved she was still relevant, winning a Grammy for her musical, 'Kinky Boots.'
Best Rock Performance Grammy winners, Imagine Dragons, gave a radioactive performance with rapper Kendrick Lamar. Keith Urban and Gary Clark Jr. shredded riffs onstage in equal measure. 4-time winner Urban was shut out of the awards this year, along with Taylor Swift. Clark won the Best Traditional R&B Performance in the Grammy Pre-Telecast.
The Grammy Pre-Telecast featured a few surprises, such as Vampire Weekend accepting a Grammy for Best Alternative Album. And The Civil Wars winning a 4th Grammy Award despite the duo no longer speaking to each other. Stephen Colbert won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album with 'America Again: Re-becoming The Greatness We Never Weren't.' Traditional Pop Vocalist, Michael Buble triumphed again.
Adele and Paul Epworth won yet another award for 'Skyfall,' Adele's 10th Grammy. Meanwhile, Katy Perry continued her five year Grammy losing streak. Still an awards show darling, she performed 'Dark Horse' with Juicy J. breaking in for a rap and cheered for Lorde. Taylor Swift was shut out ofan award for the first time in years, winning no Grammys for 'Red.'
The Grammys seem to have made great progress, not only in supporting the LGBT community with this performance, but also in terms of race relations. Years ago in 1989, "Parents Just Don't Understand" singer Will Smith, along with partner and DJ Jazzy Jeff, boycotted the Grammy Awards because the then-new rap music Grammy was not a part of the televised awards ceremony. Nowadays 'Mama Said Knock You Out' rapper L.L. Cool J serves as host for the sometimes controversial awards ceremony.
Honestly, the least powerful performances weren't necessarily the most eclectic. 'Queenie Eye' was a tad boring as far as song go. Madonna couldn't quite match Mary Lambert's vocals. And country music stars Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard aren't vocally much like their younger selves, though Willie Nelson remains unchanged. Blake Shelton was ill-used and lost in the crowd.
Though the Grammys stripped out separate male and female categories, gutting the number of awards from a high of 106 down to this year's , a new Music Educator Award was given for the first time to Kent Knappenburger out of 32,000 nominees. He will receive a $10,000 honorarium. It was announced that you can nominate teachers starting now at www.GrammyMusicTeacher.com.