Although thousands of people were at the Staples Center to see the Grammys last night, the show is really designed for TV viewers — the production doesn’t hesitate to shine spotlights in the crowd’s eyes, for example. But the on-the-scene audience was privy to a few off-camera moments and secrets that you may have missed.
1. About five minutes before the show started, director Ken Ehrlich came out with a microphone, ostensibly to pump up the crowd. But his speech quickly demonstrated how many different things he has to think about, as he exhorted the audience to find their seats, said hello to Taylor Swift (“Hi, Taylor — you going to have fun tonight?”), lectured photographers about clearing the aisles and got Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to sing “Birthday” to one of the show’s staffers, John Bradley. With seconds to go, he shifted into hype mode: “Up, up, up! Loud, loud, loud! Hey, folks, it’s the Grammys!”
2. You saw Lorde freak out while accepting her Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance and overwhelmed, cut her speech short. What you didn’t see was that instead of heading backstage like every other winner, she made a beeline back to her seat, clutching her Grammy.
3. When Kacey Musgraves and her band were setting up during the Imagine Dragons/Kendrick Lamar collaboration, the lights on their jackets made them visible to the audience — and made the Staples Center expect an EDM act, not a country band.
4. The biggest crowd reaction was probably for the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performance and marriage ceremony, with the Daft Punk/Pharrell Williams/Nile Rodgers/Stevie Wonder grooveathon a close second: it felt like that one could have gone on for 20 minutes without any complaints from the audience. Also getting enthusiastic standing ovations were the acrobatic Pink; Paul McCartney; Ringo Starr; Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, and Blake Shelton; and Lorde. The mildest Staples Center reception? Probably for presenters Martina McBride and Zac Brown.
5. When Robin Thicke performed Chicago’s greatest hits, he told the crowd, “Come on, Los Angeles, put your hands together for Chicago.” Which was inherently funny in that “coast to coast, L.A. to Chicago” way, but was also ineffective, as the audience kept their hands determinedly separate until Thickago busted out “Blurred Lines.”
6. Pink’s aerial performance of “Try”? There was no safety net visible.
7. At some of the show’s quiet moments — John Legend playing “All of Me” alone at the piano — the entire arena was rapt and silent. Except for the people partying in the Staples Center luxury suites: judging by the relentless noise coming from that level, there was no point at which they actually paid attention to the Grammys.
8. You may have noticed Taylor Swift and her friend dancing to the Kendrick Lamar/Imagine Dragons performance. What you couldn’t see was that for the first half of the song, they appeared to be the only two audience members on their feet (not counting the mosh pit at the lip of the stage). Swift was also the first person to stand up when Kacey Musgrave won the Grammy for Best Country Album — leaping to her feet either because she was genuinely delighted for Musgrave or because she knew that looking like a reluctant applauder would be a quick way to launch a pointless Internet controversy.