Daft Punk made great strides for robotkind at the 2014 Grammys when the French electro duo earned themselves five trophies, including Album of the Year for Random Access Memories and Record of the Year for the irrepressible “Get Lucky.” Other big winners at the performance-heavy awards ceremony in Los Angeles included Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who took home Best New Artist, three rap trophies and heaps of credit for allowing 33 couples to wed during their set, and current Rolling Stone cover star Lorde, whose single “Royals” earned her Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance and left her practically speechless both times.
Some of the night’s best speeches were merely interpretations of what the circuitry inside Daft Punk’s robots might be thinking. Pharrell took a shot when the group won Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Get Lucky.” “Dude, on behalf of the robots, man, [censored bleep] thank you, thank you, thank you.” One of the androids clacked its metal hand in gratitude. Later, Pharell mused on who the robots “would like to thank,” but trailed off and just gave it up for the “incredible” Nile Rodgers.
The other major winners of the night were some of rock’s perennial winners: the Beatles. Actor Steve Coogan joked at one point, “The Grammys had the choice of reuniting two of the Beatles and all of the Jonas Brothers,” and it’s a good thing the producers opted for the Fab Four, since they were able to award the Liverpudlians with a long-overdue Lifetime Achievement Award in a separate ceremony on Saturday. During the telecast, Ringo Starr bounced his body and sang his George Harrison–co-written solo hit “Photograph,” as Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon bounced with him in the audience. Paul McCartney got a little help from his friend Starr, who assumed the drum throne on the New track “Queenie Eye.” Ozzy Osbourne called the Beatles “the greatest band ever,” and then grew speechless while his Black Sabbath bandmates finished Starr’s performance intro. Dave Grohl, who had already paid tribute to the group once today, honored the band when he accepted the Best Rock Song Grammy with McCartney for their Sound City collaboration “Cut Me Some Slack.” “We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Paul and for Ringo,” he said in his speech and later called the win “amazing.”
But the Beatles weren’t the only amazing thing about the evening. The night opened with a performance by an artist who released her 2013 album after the Grammys had already announced its nominees, but she performed as though she’d won Album of the Year. The seated profile of Beyoncé appeared in a Bob Fosse-like mélange of smoke, as the steamy opening notes of her Beyoncé track “Drunk in Love” filled the room. Lights flashed as she sang about flashing lights and eventually Jay Z, dressed in a tux, joined her to swivel with Yoncé as she sang about “surfing all of this good good” (much to the delight of Taylor Swift, who sang along). Later, Jay Z thanked Beyoncé in his acceptance speech for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Holy Grail,” his duet with Justin Timberlake, and told his daughter, “Daddy got a gold sippy cup for you.”
Beyond shiny new sippy cups, the evening’s many unique collaborations stole the show. Robin Thicke found a way to make “Blurred Lines” even hornier with a little help from horn-loving classic rockers Chicago. Daft Punk, dressed in white spacesuits, acted as engineers in a staged recording studio for the likes of Pharrell, who sang “Get Lucky,” Nile Rodgers, who let his “Le Freak” flag fly, and Stevie Wonder, who sang circles around all of them with some lines from his 1977 disco-y hit “Another Star.” Pink upped the show’s surrealism levels by dangling herself over the audience and dipping down to a shirtless muscleman before singing “Just Give Me a Reason” with fully clothed fun. frontman Nate Ruess. Miranda Lambert and Billie Joe Armstrong twanged along to the Everly Brothers’ “When Will I Be Loved.” Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons banged the drum quickly in a mash-up of the rapper’s “m.A.A.d. City” and the rockers’ “Radioactive,” in a way that got rap-rock originator Steven Tyler riled. The Highwaymen performed with Blake Shelton in the absence of Johnny Cash, and even got some of the longhaired hippies in the audience approving of Merle Haggard’s anti-hippie screed “Okie From Muskogee.” Metallica found a way to make its war anthem “One” even more explosive, thanks to some expressive pianism by classical musician Lang Lang. And the night’s finale – a supergroup of Dave Grohl, Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham – gave a psychedelic edge to NIN’s “Copy of A” and Queens of the Stone Age’s “My God Is the Sun,” before advertising ended the set.
And then there was Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s high point, giving his stage to Queen Latifah to go full Sun Myung Moon on 66 people of all sexualities and races during “Same Love.” It was a spectacle they could only top with a cameo from Madonna singing “Open Your Heart,” which she did with aplomb dressed like a white cowboy. It was hard to imagine the rap duo would be able to pull off such a spectacle when they won the evening’s first award, Best New Artist, and Macklemore stood, looking at the audience, slack-jawed, and said, “Wow – we’re here on this stage right now.”
The most touching moment of the night occurred when the robots of the hour paid tribute to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. In the final speech of the night, songwriter Paul Williams delivered Daft Punk’s worse of praise, which summed up all of the warm and fuzzy collaborations of the evening. “What they wanted me to say is that as elegant and as classy as the Grammys has ever been was the moment when we saw those wonderful marriages, and ‘Same Love’ is fantastic,” he said. “It was the height of fairness and love and the power of love for all people at any time in any combination. . . [Daft Punk] sail on a ship called generosity. They are generous in spirit.”