Macklemore, Lorde and Daft Punk take the cake at this year’s Grammy’s
Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 21:01
As most of us are well aware, the 2014 Grammy Awards were broadcast on Sunday night. Whether you missed the live event or just want a refresher, here is the a roundup of the awards, the ceremony itself and the impact that 2013’s most talked-about music will have as we move forward into this year.
One of the major winners last night was 17-year-old singer Lorde. Lorde took home two awards - one for Best Solo Pop Performance and another for Song of the Year, both for her song“Royals.” Between the numerous a cappella reimaginings of the popular song and the controversy surrounding the song’s allegedly racialized critique of conspicuous consumption, the song has generated arguably more buzz than any other song in 2013. Lorde’s visceral, erratic performance of the song was also notable, given that most awards-show performances tend toward the flashy but crowd-pleasing variety.
Perhaps the biggest performance of the night was Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert’s performance of “Same Love,” which has gained clout as a gay-rights anthem. During the performance, the recently deputized Queen Latifah officiated 33 weddings in a mass public ceremony. Among those married at the ceremony was Lewis’ own sister, Laura. Macklemore and Lewis had quite the night overall, winning four of the seven awards for which they were nominated. The pair won Best New Artist over Lorde and Kendrick Lamar, and while all three are excellent artists, I was disappointed at the lack of recognition for James Blake. The chord progressions of “Retrograde” combined with Blake’s impressive vocal range are well worth some sort of recognition.
Macklemore and Lewis also courted controversy when they took home the award for best rap album, which many argued should have gone to Kendrick Lamar. Even Macklemore himself, in a text message to Lamar which he later posted on his Instagram, said that Lamar “should’ve won” for “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.”
Lamar did get his due credit, though, for his incredible live performance of Best Rock Performance winner “Radioactive” with Imagine Dragons. It’s also worth drawing attention to another album that got passed over – Kanye West’s “Yeezus.” The album – a dark, intellectual portrayal of the roles of race, history, and power in America – is a major artistic achievement.
Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake mutually treated one another to a Grammy each (or, as Jay-Z adorably put it, a “gold sippy cup” for daughter Blue Ivy). Jay-Z contributed to Best Music Video winner “Suit and Tie,” and Timberlake lent his vocals to Best Rap/Sung Collaboration winner “Holy Grail.”
Daft Punk was another big winner with “Record of the Year” for “Get Lucky” and Album of the Year for “Random Access Memories.” However, Daft Punk’s “Memories” win in the EDM category has debatable legitimacy, as the band is really more in the category of pop or dance-pop than what we now call EDM. The nomination of Pretty Lights in the EDM category has huge implications for the economics of the music industry. Pretty Lights has achieved major success despite offering free downloads of his entire catalog online. Another notable winner was the song “Cut Me Some Slack” (Best Rock Song), sung by Paul McCartney, Pat Smear, Krist Novoselic and former Foo Fighters member Dave Grohl (the latter two make up the surviving permanent members of Nirvana, though McCartney was unaware of this fact at the start of the collaboration). The success of this song speaks to the ability of truly talented artists to sustain recognition in the music industry.
Bruno Mars took home Best Pop Vocal Album for “Unorthodox Jukebox”; along with popular tracks like “Gorilla” and “When I Was Your Man,” the album also boasts excellent lesser-known tracks like “Money Make Her Smile,” “Young Girls” and “Moonshine.”
Lana Del Rey also won big on Grammy’s night, though not in an officially recognized manner. Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” was passed over in favor of Adele’s “Skyfall” (Best Song Written for a Visual Media), and her only actual award, for “Summertime Sadness,” went to Cedric Gervais’s radio-friendly remix rather than Del Rey’s original song. Her real win was during the commercials, when a brand-new trailer for Disney’s upcoming “Maleficent” featured her haunting, languid cover of the Sleeping Beauty song “Once Upon a Dream.” Del Rey has the perfect voice with which to turn a lighthearted Disney tune into a sultry, resonant love ballad, and she absolutely knocked this cover out of the park.
While awards nights, by their nature, involve some triumphs and some disappointments for both artists and fans, the Grammys largely did justice to the music of 2013 and set a high standard for musicians in the coming year.