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Grammys 2014’s 25 Best and Worst Moments

From Daft Punk’s funky smash-up to Pink’s high-flying routine to a few Beatles grooving in the aisles

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Daft Punk, Macklemore and Lorde took home the most trophies at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles last night, but a slew of other stars also walked away big winners. True Grammys impact can be measured in metrics other than golden gramophones — like how many people were tweeting about your bizarre hat and who had Taylor Swift dancing in the front row all night. Rolling Stone kindly distilled all three-and-a-half-and-a-little-more hours of the ceremony into a breakdown of thrilling highs and disappointing lows. By Caryn Ganz, Andy Greene, David Marchese, Simon Vozick-Levinson and Christopher R. Weingarten

Catch up on all of our coverage of the 56th Annual Grammy Awards — lists, photos, interviews and more — right here.

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WORST: The Sounds of Silence

It happens every year: The network censors rip a great performance to shreds just to avoid the tiniest possibility of some sensitive ear encountering a naughty syllable. They started early last night, cutting out a few crucial seconds of Beyoncé's incredible opening performance — but the bleep-happy crew didn't really get going until Kendrick Lamar took the stage later on. They leaned so hard on the mute button, they practically broke it. What are they so afraid of? That someone out there in America might accidentally hear the word "fuck" late at night and the world would suddenly come crashing to an end? Thanks to the puritanical prigs at the FCC, one of the night's highest peaks was taken down a peg.

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BEST: Metallica and Lang Lang Detonate “One”

There wasn't any pressing reason why Metallica should've been on the telecast, let alone performing a 26-year-old song. (The quartet was nominated for Best Recording Package for Through the Never, but not in any of the major categories.) Who cares? Performing the epic "One," a task Metallica also undertook at the 1989 Grammy telecast, but joined this time by classical piano virtuoso Lang Lang, the band delivered the evening's most aggressive minutes. There was palm-muted guitar riffing, shooting flames, red lasers, dueling Kirk Hammett/Lang Lang solos and James Hetfield growling "Hold my breath / As I wish for death." The Grammys, by design, are a feel-good event. Having these metal masters around to add some acid to all the sugary sweetness was a necessary, and just plain awesome, counterpoint. 

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WORST: R.I.P. Fails

No one would argue that Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. singer-songwriter Jason Molina was ever more than a cult favorite, but anyone who's ever heard his searing, searching music will never forget it. That, among other reasons, was why those who knew Molina's work felt his loss, last March, so deeply. And that's also why it's utterly inexplicable that Molina didn't garner a mention during the telecast's In Memoriam tribute. Also hard to understand was the failure to acknowledge the passing of Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman, a true giant of thrash metal, as well as Trevor Bolder, the bassist in David Bowie's epochal Spiders From Mars backing band. And Cory Monteith's name appeared with a typo (as Montieth).

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BEST: Katy Perry’s Glorious Goth Nightmare

Well, this was just kind of an awesomely goth-y mess. Or, to put another way: a pretty awesome version of an Evanescence video! Perry, dressed in a flowing black gown, began her performance of "Dark Horse" by singing from inside a crystal ball, the stage set a spoooooky mess of dead trees, around which back-up dancers carrying witches' brooms cavorted. Later, having escaped from the sphere, Perry was greeted by a dark metallic-looking puppet horse. Then Juicy J came out to deliver a verse, dressed in a dark suit, standing eerily still — he came off like an ultra-suave grim reaper. The performance may not have achieved the same grand guignol energy of Nicki Minaj's exorcism extravaganza from the 2012 Grammy telecast, but it entertaining as, um, hell.  

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BEST: Macklemarriage!

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis had a pretty good night, taking home the Best New Artist trophy as well as sweeping Best Rap Song, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Album. But the independent duo's most heartwarming Grammys moment came when they performed "Same Love," their pro-marriage equality hit, with Seattle singer Mary Lambert and a gospel choir. They were joined by 33 real-life couples, gay and straight, each of whom were united in love during an onstage wedding ceremony officiated by Queen Latifah. Also on hand: Madonna, who made a special cameo to sing a little of her own "Open Your Heart." That's one way to make sure everyone remembers your wedding.

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WORST: Nate Ruess’ Unfortunate Mustache

Pink and fun. singer Nate Ruess shared the stage with an unwelcome third party: the ever-so-slightly creepy pencil mustache perched on Ruess' upper lip. Maybe he was trying for "John Waters," but he landed on "uncomfortably friendly ice-cream truck driver." Apparently no one in his inner circle had the heart to tell him that his new look wasn't working. You could almost hear his inner monologue: "This 'stache is so sweet! I am killing it right now in front of an audience of millions!" Movember ended two months ago, dogg. Get rid of that thing.

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BEST: Daft Punk’s Silent Acceptance Speeches

One of the best things about Daft Punk winning awards for which people are traditionally expected to give speeches was that the two French dance masters don't speak. Their silence, though, provided an opportunity for Pharrell Williams to show some impromptu charm. Accepting after "Get Lucky" won for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Pharrell looked to his robo-pals and said, "They wanna thank their families." Then, later on the show, when the same crew won again for Record of the Year, Pharrell mused, "I suppose the robots would like to thank . . ." and drew a blank. And when Daft Punk won for Album of the Year for Random Access Memories, collaborator Paul Williams accepted on behalf of the duo with a sweetly earnest speech about the unlikeliness of making music with the 'bots. The evening's most light-heartededly charming moments. 

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WORST: Hunter Hayes Cribs Set-Piece From Inspirational Calendar

Country cutie Hunter Hayes premiered his new song "Invisible" in front of inspirational quotes from John Lennon, Steve Jobs and famed philosopher Johnny Depp. The problem? It's your lyrics that need to do the heavy emotional lifting, not other people's words.

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