"Music's Biggest Night" has always featured a successful slew of multi-genre collaborations to showcase both the direct relationship of many musical styles, while also creating unique ensembles that are only made possible during this unifying broadcast. However, there are always a few acts that miss the mark by relying on mere star power instead of performance, failing to blend polarized artists, or by exemplifying a severe disparity in vocals that is too much for the audience to overcome. These typical three scenarios were present in the 2014 Grammy installation, along with two other disturbing combinations that shouldn't have been off-setting in theory, as it is a show highlighting talent regardless of genre and elevating the performer's work instead of analyzing the garb, but Nine Inch Nails/Queens of the Stone Age/Dave Grohl seemed irrelevant and Pharrell/his "Smokey the Bear" hat seemed über "ridic". These two displays, along with Beyonce/Jay-Z relying on their charms, Metallica blowing the keys off Lang Lang's piano, and Pink/Nate Ruess tipping the vocal balancing act; the 56th Annual Grammys were no exception to a few collaborative fumbles.
1. Pharrell Williams and "Smokey the Bear's" top hat: Let's begin with the elephant- or hat- in the room that was Williams along with his forest ranger headpiece. When first noticing this dreadful piece, many thought it was Pharrell being whimsical or showing solidarity for his helmet-donned Daft Punk counterparts; but when it became a fashion offense by being present during his reward acceptances/performances- it distracted from the audience's sincerity. When watching his stellar concert, with Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers, and Stevie Wonder; the beauty of the music was bogged down by the ugliness/irreverence of Williams' crinkled hat. When walking to center stage with "the Robots" to be their mouthpiece for accepting the "Album of the Year Award", his homely look was a ungrateful representation to the Academy and fans offering the award to his comrades. Hats off to you, Pharrell, for making the audience feel embarrassed and offended by your fashion-backward choices.
2. Nine Inch Nails/Queens of the Stone Age/ Dave Grohl: These three bands/performers are all appreciated in their own alternative-world rights, however, throwing these backburner acts together doesn't create a larger fire; it just dulls each flame slowly. Don't get me wrong, each of these artists are highly talented and musically revered given the appropriate target audience, but to have these acts as the finale for the Grammys, is a perfect concoction to send the audience off to bed. If there was any grungy rocker with mainstream power who could've tied the collab together, it was Dave Grohl; but his lack of stage presence by hiding behind his drum-set, led to the lack of newfound energy this tired audience needed. Those who listen to the 90's rock stations on Pandora would have been in their element, but these are also the same people who avidly boycott popular music events such as the Grammys.
3. Beyonce/Jay-Z: The hip-hop power couple's opening act was nothing more than a predictable extension of the cliché video for the performed song, "Drunk in Love". Like the music video, Beyonce was dressed in a barely-there, S-and-M leotard with her hair drenched and ass bouncing; while Jay-Z was standing suited-up and proper waiting for "the hottest chick in the game " to use his body as a stripper pole. The performance relied solely on their combined stereotypes as an over-sexed diva/regal hip-hop mogul, and their ability to just "show-up" with an overdone act while receiving rave reviews. The couple's star power may have twinkled in the eyes of their fans, but when evaluated in terms of Grammy performances, "Bay" and "Jay" paled in comparison.
4. Metallica/Lang Lang: Due to the success of other starkly different musicians playing nice together throughout the show, many thought this dichotomy of performers could somehow pull-off a successful collaboration. However, it was as awkward as Taylor Swift's dancing. In theory, classical pianist, Lang Lang, could have held his own against typical rock-and-roll rhythmics; but when dealing with Metallica, there are amplifiers and baritone growls thrown in that can drown-out a nuclear bomb. No matter how hard Lang Lang hit the keys and resonated the sound, he could not compete with the band, except when they took short breaks in sound to prove the blue-suited man wasn't a broadcast glitch. But, even if we could hear the piano keys rise above the heavy metal anarchy, it would have added a harmonic element that had no relation-whatsoever- to the style or theme of Metallica's angsty ballads. Swapping his piano for Daft Punk's keyboard would've done wonders in elevating this snubbed musical number.
5. Pink/Nate Ruess: Pink performed a death-defying acrobatic act that would bring cirque-de-soleil to shame, however, the vocal-cracklings of Nate Ruess would replace the infamy of Peter's similar scene in the Brady Bunch. Since Nate has a tenor-like sound, viewers would think he could easily match Pink's musty high-notes during the live performance of their hit, "Just Give Me a Reason"; but his vocals seemed screeched and in need of the auto-tuning their studio-recording obviously required. Pink's projections elevated the song to an emotion-filled anthem, while Reuss' brought it down to a whiny pop-punk manifesto. The performance definitely "gave me a reason" to be disappointed in Reuss' lack of range and vocal- blending needed for the sing-a-long effort audience members desired of this "Top 40" title.