Just ask Kendrick Lamar, who inexplicably went 0-for-7 on Sunday night (so much for my bold prediction ), yet is still a winner in my book, thanks to his show-stealing performance with Imagine Dragons.
Of course, there were plenty of folks who did hear their name called, and any recap of the night’s big winners wouldn’t be complete without mentioning them. The same goes for those who left the Grammys empty-handed. Hey, we’ve got to include a few losers, too. So while we’ll spend all day debating Music’s Biggest Night, here’s my breakdown of the Winners … and the Losers.
Daft Punk: Let’s see … a highlight-reel performance featuring Pharrell, Stevie Wonder and Nile Rodgers and four Grammy awards, including Album and Record of the Year? Yep, that makes them winners in our book. And they did it all without ever speaking a word. Impressive, indeed.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: They swept the rap categories (except for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, which they weren’t nominated for) and nabbed Best New Artist, bringing home four awards in all. And that’s in addition to their memorable performance of “Same Love,” which brought social issues to the Grammy stage, in one of the most poignant ways imaginable.
Lorde: She had us wrapped around her (ink-stained) fingers with a sparse, stripped-down take on “Royals,” then went out and won a pair of Grammys, including Song of the Year. Not too shabby for a 17-year-old who, six months ago, probably wouldn’t have even been invited to the show.
Pharrell Williams (and his wondrous hat): He had a hand in all of Daft Punk’s wins (and their performance), and even picked up a much-deserved Producer of the Year win, too. And he did it all while wearing an epic hat that had folks comparing him to Smokey the Bear and the Arby’s logo. Turns out, it was a nod to one of hip-hop’s earliest curio cases, Malcolm McLaren’s “Buffalo Gals,” proving that Pharrell operates on a level most of us cannot even begin to comprehend.
Kendrick Lamar (and Imagine Dragons, too): Like I said, K-Dot didn’t win anything, a slight that may end ranking alongside Metallica’s Best Hard Rock/Metal loss to Jethro-freaking-Tull in 1989. So, in that regard, Lamar’s the people’s champ. And then there was his fiery, fierce performance, which dominated discussion throughout the night and somehow pulled off the impossible: it made Imagine Dragons seem cool.
The-Dream: Hey, if you’re gonna lose, you might as well do it with the grace of a petulant child. When “Holy Grail” — which he co-wrote — lost to “Thrift Shop” in Best Rap Song, the-Dream vented his frustrations on Instagram, comparing himself to Michael Jordan in 1995 (when the Bulls were knocked off in the NBA playoffs by the Orlando Magic) and proclaiming he was heading directly into the studio to right all wrongs. Remember, the reason you make music in the first place is to win completely arbitrary awards.
Metallica (and Lang Lang): I’m still wondering why Metallica were even at this show in the first place … or why any of them thought collaborating with Chinese pianist Lang Lang would be a good idea. Their performance of “One” was dully of doomy piano and plenty of pyrotechnics, yet it didn’t pack a single punch. Instead, we got lots of arty noodling (lots of it) and, uh … lasers? Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t give some props to Kirk Hammett for wearing a Lou Reed Transformer T-shirt.
Grammy Producers: I understand they have to bring this show in at a reasonable running time, yet the folks behind the show were brutal with the play-off music (poor Kacey Musgraves), then let the final hour meander on before coldly deciding to cut-off the night’s final performance, a hard-rocking superjam featuring Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor, Lindsey Buckingham and Queens of the Stone Age. At that point, what was five more minutes? No wonder Trent was pissed.
Madonna: Will anyone remember she was even part of the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis performance? Sure, she showed up to sing a few lines from “Open Your Heart,” but she didn’t add much of anything to the moment … to say nothing of her decision to dress like Boss Hogg.
The Surviving Beatles: This might have been the first time in four decades John or George wouldn’t have traded places with Paul or Ringo.