On Sunday January 26, 2014 the 56th Grammy Awards were held to celebrate what has been a truly fantastic year in music. Host LL Cool J could not have put things into better perspective than when he said that music is here “to free us, to move us, to inspire us and to totally surprise us.” This year’s nominees provided a wide array of songs, albums and artists that all meant different things to every individual while at the same time helped us to connect on varying levels. We danced to “Get Lucky” at clubs and parties, gained strength and confidence from “Brave” and really stopped to think about the messages to be found in “Same Love.” Every performer that appeared on the Grammy stage tonight showcased the ways in which music allows them to express themselves and use their voices. Here are some of the incredible highlights from this year’s show.
The simplicity of John Legend is a beautiful thing. His voice plus his tender piano playing are a magical combination. His performance tonight of “All of Me” proved that less is more, receiving a standing ovation and leaving his audiences both at home and in the auditorium spellbound. The music that can capture everyone’s attention without all the glitz and tricks is truly something to be appreciated.
First, nods to Taylor for her impeccable fashion taste this year. Both gowns she wore were absolutely beautiful. Like Legend, Swift started her performance of “All Too Well” with only a piano and a guitar to accompany her. Later a great set of background vocals and a full band joined in. In one of her more mature performances, Swift helped audiences to realize she is more than a catchy teenage anthem producer and a talented song writer. The pan over to her parents’ proud reaction was too precious.
Beyoncé and Jay Z
Oh Beyoncé, you naughty girl. No one is as capable as Queen B when it comes to getting an entire audience on the edge of their seats. She kept things simple with no background dancers or elaborate routines, just her bootylicious derrière and a black chair that I’m sure a number of people were wishing they could be. Hubby Jay Z joined her on the stage for his part in “Drunk in Love” and the crowd loved every steamy second of it. With chemistry as tangible as her parents’, Blue Ivy shouldn’t be surprised if she winds up with a new brother or sister a short ways down the road.
Sara Bareilles and Carole King
At her first Grammy’s appearance, Sara Bareilles did not disappoint. The lovable singer-songwriter was glowing as she performed with her hero Carole King. Is there anything more adorable in the music world than watching two artists play pianos facing one another while gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes? (Cue flashbacks to Lady Gaga and Elton John’s flawless performance a few years back). These women were a dynamic pairing on the Grammy’s stage and Sara’s giddy excitement was contagious.
Robin Thicke and Chicago
From Miley and twerking Teddy Bears to a sweet and tender collaboration with Chicago, Robin Thicke proved he’s a man of versatility. If the VMA’s tainted your love of his summer anthem “Blurred Lines,” tonight was the song’s shining redemption. After playing through a couple of Chicago’s most uplifting ballads, the band and Thicke burst into a classy version of “Blurred Lines” that had everyone on their feet. One of the feel good performances of the night, Thicke proved that it’s never too late for a bad boy to clean up his act.
Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons
One of the more unusual duos of the night, Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons brought the energy of the show up by several levels. The two effortlessly meshed up their two hits and caused an infectious dance party to break out amongst those in attendance. Lights, pink smoke and fire only enhanced the intensity. The camera panned from everyone to Lorde to Steven Tyler to Jay and Beyoncé. Of course, Taylor Swift proved the dance queen of the evening front and center and showing off her ever unique moves.
Pink and Nate Ruess
When I first realized Pink was doing a trapeze act again I was a little weary. Well I was an idiot to ever doubt her. The woman’s amazing. Most of us can’t text and walk in a straight line and she’s up there twirling and twisting and singing beautifully without a harness. Didn’t she just have a baby too? Pink redefined what it is to be a performance artist tonight. As if her ethereal performance weren’t enough, Nate Ruess came out against a beautiful background of lighted white trees and the duo performed their smash hit “Just Give Me a Reason” with so much convincing emotion that everyone’s heart had to ache a little bit. Well played you two, well played.
Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers, and Stevie Wonders.
Who better to introduce “Get Lucky” than Barney Stinson himself? Neil Patrick Harris wound up the crowd before Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers and the legen- wait for it- dary Stevie Wonders took the stage for one of the funnest performances of the night. Taking place in a mock recording studio, a true jam session broke out amongst this amazing collaboration of artists. Pharrell shared vocals with Stevie Wonder while the robots of Daft Punk did what they do best in the recording booth, making this rare performance one not to be forgotten any time soon. Audiences grooved to the irresistible tune that was loaded with some seriously good improv. It really comes as no surprise that the song took home several key awards this year.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, Trombone Shorty, Queen Latifah and Madonna
There comes a point in every award show where your attention starts slipping and you’re just waiting for it all to be over so you can go to bed with the satisfaction that you were able to watch everything happen live and not just read about it the next morning on Facebook. Leave it to Macklemore to truly get the show started more than 3/4 of the way through. In a moment sure to go down in television history, the Staples Center became a truly significant place for 30 couples of every sexual orientation as they were married by Queen Latifah following the messages of love and acceptance preached by Macklemore. Upon completing their vows, Madonna appeared on stage singing “Open Your Heart.” In the most meaningful performance of the night, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with a slew of special guests performed the powerful “Same Love” on a stage meant to represent a cathedral. Before the performance was even finished, the audience was erupting in applause and tears alike for the standout performance of the night.
It’s only fitting that such a great year in music could conclude with such an amazing show. Tonight during the 56th Grammy Awards we were reminded that music has the power to bring people together in a way that few things can. 2014 most certainly has a lot to live up to.