Grammys 2014: Macklemore Wins Big, Lorde Is Luscious, And Did Queen Latifah Ruin A Giant Pro-Gay Moment?

 mccartney-macklemore-600(from Macklemore’s Instagram)

It’s hard to believe in the sanctity of the Grammys when it’s possible to have, like, 17 of them. (Ahoy, Beyonce.) Katharine Hepburn didn’t have 17 Oscars. Hell, we’re on the fence about giving Meryl a fourth. But if you stick around long enough and maintain a baseline level of radio palatability, you’re likely to pick up a trophy every couple of years. Sheryl Crow has nine, you know what I mean?

But even if you’re a major skeptic, you couldn’t have hated too many of the chosen winners from the 56th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday night. I, for one, relished in Kathy Griffin’s first win for Best Comedy Album. The woman is an unstoppable force of neurotic, popcult nerd flavor, and she remains as audacious now as she was when she outlasted Stephen Baldwin on Celebrity Mole: Hawaii. She is informed and cool. Love her. Didn’t so much love Justin Timberlake’s Best Music Video win for “Suit & Tie.” I don’t believe Grammys should be awarded to glorified Armani Exchange commercials.

Otherwise, here were the highlights and lowlights (staggered randomly for your personal amusement) of a star-studded, even poignant Grammys.

Fosse Presents: All That Jay-Z (and Bey)

Beyonce — looking unreal in a black leotard and a strange, wet, bobbed haircut that reminded me more of vintage Bobcat Goldthwait than Diana Ross — swerved and bounced and gyrated and kept total control of the world’s Pepsi-addled attention during the night’s first performance. On “Drunk In Love,” she gave one lucky chair the Fosse-to-Flashdance treatment and bopped along aside Jay-Z once he came out and dropped a verse that concerned “breastices.” These two have the talent. The goods. The legend. Their song choice was oddly boring to me (and say what you will about her new disc’s overnight success, but Beyonce has never been a compelling album artist) but you can’t really nick a pair of supernovas. Their very presence is room-shattering. When Jay-Z later picked up a trophy for “Holy Grail,” he turned his statue on its side and called it a “sippy cup for Blue.” Slow clap for the cute prop comedy.

“Royal” Pangs (of Awesomeness)


This Lorde person. She’s 17 and and sneers hard with George Sand angst (or at least Judy Davis-as-George Sand angst), and she gave what I’d call the crispest vocal of the evening on “Royals,” which also took home Song of the Year honors. Lorde likes to twitch onstage in a trippy way, sort of like when Julia Stiles impressed the clubland divas with her “hardness” in Save the Last Dance. I dug it.

I do think the lyrics of “Royals” deserve a rewrite — Is it a profound poetic statement for a 17-year-old white woman to dismiss the excesses of hip-hop culture as if they’d apply to her world of ambition at all?but it’s nice to watch a Grammys and be absolutely excited for a new artist’s future. Love hearing her speak and/or write. She is also intensely gorgeous, which I’m sure we all noted.

I felt the Earth move when Carole King and Sara Bareilles became musical soulmates in front of us.

God, Carole. An unspeakably fabulous music legend, not to mention underrated as an architect of rock ’n roll. And Sara Bareilles, flawless vocalist. Did you see her tribute to Laura Nyro at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Perfect. Carole and Sara combined forces on Carole’s “Beautiful” and Sara’s “Brave” to make a logical, empowering medley. And so warm! Carole is the queen of warmth and a pretty damn good warbler for 72, y’all. You could see her pride in collaborating with such an inspired youngster, and it reminded me of how well she deferred to new-ish talents like Shania Twain and Mariah Carey during Divas Live ’98. The catchy “Brave” sounded perfectly classic when arranged alongside the Tapestry jam. This is why the Grammys are great, people.

Songs in the Key of Droid

Another winning collaboration: Daft Punk (in their robo-Lego heads; think VR Troopers if you’re a ’90s child), Nile Rodgers, Producer of the Year winner Pharrell Williams (in a strange-ass Smokey the Bear hat), and three-time Album of the Year winner Stevie Wonder. It’s what you wanted, even if you’re finally getting sick of “Get Lucky.” With Stevie and Nile in the picture, the dance track became immortal.

Queen Latifah had, like, a prayer of impressing us as a gay wedding officiator. 


Let’s break down this whole spectacle: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who picked up a bunch of Grammys (four — a little much), sang their gay-approving, affecting hit “Same Love” with Mary Lambert. All three of those people did a very nice job, particularly Mary. Queen Latifah intruded at one point to announce that a slew of gay and straight couples would be marrying in the audience. She would also officiate the proceedings. If you know one thing about Queen Latifah in 2014, it is that she’s famously closeted and hostile about it. (“I don’t care if people think I’m gay or not. Assume what you want. You do it anyway,” she said in 2008.) For some reason this stalwart closet case who treats gayness like a dastardly family secret is the ringmaster of the Grammys’ gay explosion. Hmm. Then Madonna, dressed as Colonel Sanders’ thug niece, busted in with a few bars of “Open Your Heart” as the couples started to kiss — not on camera, mind you, but they kissed. Suddenly 33 couples were wed, and some of them were gay.

Related: Relive The Grammy Wedding! (VIDEO)

OK! I think that’s cute. I also think Queen Latifah is the most cynical entertainer alive if she thinks it somehow bolstered her reputation to stand near gay couples at the Grammys and read teleprompter feed about liking them. What is her message here? “I support openly gay couples but I have specific, intense, personal, and unknowable reasons for not acknowledging my own gayness in public. You wouldn’t understand.” Such positivity? She believes in equality but will stand in a room full of mostly straight superstars and their significant others and represent no gayness in front of them. Gay people get about 3-4 major pop cultural moments a year, I’d say. Now one of them is jaundiced by Queen Latifah’s scripted attempt at a gay cred rebound.

Next Page… But what about Madonna’s participation?

As for scattered tweets I saw that Madonna was playing the part of a “white savior” for gay people in this rodeo, it’s pertinent to note that Madonna, among straight celebs, is still the ne plus ultra of LGBT support. Her contributions to AIDS awareness in the ’80s are legendary and she even admonished her own husband in print for being AIDS-phobic. Her beginnings in the gay-centric realms of NYC ballet and clubland are legendary. I’d say Madonna and her so-so, quavery rendition of “Open Your Heart” redeemed this ceremony, and I think her dapper sheriff attire was pretty sweet and reminiscent of her “Music” days.” I pictured her peering at the 33couples from onstage and muttering, “My marriages were gayer.” Here she is with her camera-ready kid David Banda, via her Instagram.

We Are Never Ever Getting Enough of Mocking Taylor Swift, Even Though She is Pretty Great. 

For the third or fourth year in a row, Taylor Swift remains the single easiest celebrity to mock. It’s not because she’s untalented or undertalented or a mess; she remains so earnest that you can’t help but question her authenticity. But man, “All Too Well” is a fabulous track off her best album to date, Red, and she sold the hell of it while seated at a piano in nimbus-gray Jessica McClintock-esque attire. I pray she jumped offstage, stormed into a dressing room, and proclaimed “I AM THE BEST VANESSA CARLTON EVER” to a scared crew member.

Bruno Mars is beautiful.


But he also might be 92-year-old Lena Horne? May she R.I.P. — unless she goes by the name “Bruno Mars” now, of course.

Hooray! I learned what a Kacey Musgraves is. 

Kacey Musgraves is a charming country singer whose song “Follow Your Arrow” explicitly tells you to do what you want and kiss who you will because you’ll be judged by somebody no matter what. So screw them! Nice! She was also dressed like a slot machine. I counted $400 worth of chips dangling off the front of that thing. What’s with the Magic Carpet fringe? Alan Menken could’ve written a beautiful ballad about this damn dress.

Teenage Drab

Katy Perry shimmied up poles during a fog-filled version of “Dark Horse.” This woman is just a rotating list of prom themes. She is the least valuable of our current crop of superstars.

Pink takes us back to the big top. 


I don’t know if you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, but Pink loves the circus. We’ve seen her rigged up on cables for aerial exhibitions at a couple of award shows now, and she brought dizzying acrobatic magic to her performance last night. She dangled into the audience like Laurie Anderson at an art installation and had people spin her.  My, my. It must be said that Pink’s great voice is only getting better, and she sounded perfect with Nate Ruess on “Just Give Me a Reason.” Can we arrange a tightrope next time, Alecia?

What’s with all this tastefulness?

A roundup of other performers who did just swimmingly: John Legend, who I believe lives at the Grammys and only emerges from his Grammy condo once a year (like Alison Krauss or Corinne Bailey Rae); Hunter Hayes and his sensitive country ballad about bullying (complete with gel-penned words of encouragement on a big screen); 73-year-old Ringo Starr, who enchanted me to death with a very energetic performance of “Photograph” (and it helped that the divine Barbara Bach was there to cheer him on!); Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson actually succeeded in captivating the Beyonce generation with a duet on “Highwayman”; Paul McCartney and Ringo reunited on Paul’s cut “Queenie Eye”; Lindsey Buckingham, the patron saint of heterosexual, sensitive angst, jammed with Dave Grohl, Nine Inch Nails (!!), and Queens of the Stone Age in a performance that was sadly interrupted before it concluded. Don’t worry: Trent Reznor is pretty peeved about it too. Here he is letting off a little steam on that pretty hate machine called Twitter.


On a final note: Poor Kendrick Lamar, the Album of the Year nominee who left the ceremony without a single Grammy. Macklemore has already apologized to him in text. That’s something!

Next page… Check out the night’s full list of winners.

Your list of winners, which includes “Skyfall” for some reason. Who really enjoys that Valium-packed ballad? Come on.

Record of the year
“Get Lucky” — Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers — WINNER
“Radioactive” — Imagine Dragons
“Royals” — Lorde
“Locked out of Heaven” — Bruno Mars
“Blurred Lines” — Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell

Album of the year
“The Blessed Unrest” — Sara Bareilles
“Random Access Memories” — Daft Punk — WINNER
“Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” — Kendrick Lamar
“The Heist” — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
“Red” — Taylor Swift

Song of the year
“Just Give Me a Reason” — P!nk featuring Nate Ruess
“Locked Out of Heaven” — Bruno Mars
“Roar” — Katy Perry
“Royals” — Lorde — WINNER
“Same Love” — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Best new artist
James Blake
Kendrick Lamar
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis — WINNER
Kacey Musgraves
Ed Sheeran

Best pop solo performance
Sara Bareilles — “Brave”
Lorde — “Royals” — WINNER
Bruno Mars — “When I Was Your Man”
Katy Perry — “Roar”
Justin Timberlake — “Mirrors”

Best pop duo/group performance
Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers — “Get Lucky” — WINNER
P!nk featuring Nate Ruess — “Just Give Me a Reason”
Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko — “Stay”
Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell — “Blurred Lines”
Justin Timberlake and Jay Z — “Suit & Tie”

Best pop instrumental album
Herb Alpert — “Steppin’ Out” — WINNER
Boney James — “The Beat”
Earl Klugh — “Handpicked”
Dave Koz, Gerald Albright, Mindi Abair and Richard Elliot — “Summer Horns”
Jeff Lorber Fusion — “Hacienda”

Best pop vocal album
Lana Del Rey — “Paradise”
Lorde — “Pure Heroine”
Bruno Mars — “Unorthodox Jukebox” — WINNER
Robin Thicke — “Blurred Lines”
Justin Timberlake — “The 20/20 Experience — The Complete Experience”

Best dance recording
“Need U (100%)” — Duke Dumont featuring A*M*E & MNEK
“Sweet Nothing” — Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch
“Atmosphere” — Kaskade
“The is What it Feels Like” — Armin Van Buuren featuring Trevor Guthrie
“Clarity” — Zedd featuring Foxes — WINNER

Best dance/electronica album
“Random Access Memories” — Daft Punk — WINNER
“Settle” — Disclosure
“18 Months” — Calvin Harris
“Atmosphere” — Kaskade
“A Color Map of the Sun” — Pretty Lights

Best traditional pop vocal album
“Viva Duets” — Tony Bennett and various artists
“To Be Loved” — Michael Bublé — WINNER
“The Standards” — Gloria Estefan
“Cee Lo’s Magic Moment” — Cee Lo Green
“Now” — Dionne Warwick

Best rock performance
Alabama Shakes — “Always Alright”
David Bowie — “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”
Imagine Dragons — “Radioactive” — WINNER
Led Zeppelin — “Kashmir”
Queens of the Stone Age — “My God is the Sun”
Jack White — “I’m Shakin’ “

Best metal performances
Anthrax — “T.N.T.”
Black Sabbath — “God is Dead?” — WINNER
Dream Theater — “The Enemy Inside”
Killswitch Engage — “In Due Time”
Volbeat featuring King Diamond — “Room 24″

Best rock song
“Ain’t Messin’ ’Round” — Gary Clark Jr.
“Cut Me Some Slack” — Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear — WINNER
“Doom and Gloom” — The Rolling Stones
“God Is Dead?” — Black Sabbath
“Panic Station” — Muse

Best rock album
Black Sabbath — “13”
David Bowie — “The Next Day”
Kings of Leon — “Mechanical Bull”
Led Zeppelin — “Celebration Day” — WINNER
Queens of the Stone Age — “… Like Clockwork”
Neil Young with Crazy Horse — “Psychedelic Pill”

Best alternative music album
Neko Case — “The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You”
The National — “Trouble Will Find Me”
Nine Inch Nails — “Hesitation Marks”
Tame Impala — “Lonerism”
Vampire Weekend — “Modern Vampires of the City” — WINNER

Best R&B performance
Tamar Braxton — “Love and War”
Anthony Hamilton — “Best of Me”
Hiatus Kaiytoe featuring Q-Tip — “Nakamarra”
Miguel featuring Kendrick Lamar — “How Many Drinks?”
Snarky Puppy with Lala Hathaway — “Something” — WINNER

Best traditional R&B performance
Gary Clark Jr. — “Please Come Home” — WINNER
Fantasia — “Get It Right”
Maysa — “Quiet Fire”
Gregory Porter — “Hey Laura”
Ryan Shaw — “Yesterday”

Best R&B song
“Best of Me” — Anthony Hamilton
“Love and War” — Tamar Braxton
“Only One” — PJ Morton featuring Stevie Wonder
“Pusher Love Girl” — Justin Timberlake — WINNER
“Without Me” — Fantasia featuring Kelly Rowland and Missy Elliott

Best urban contemporary album
Tamar Braxton — “Love and War”
Fantasia — “Side Effects of You”
Salaam Remi — “One: In the Chamber”
Rihanna — “Unapologetic” — WINNER
Mack Wilds — “New York: A Love Story”

Best R&B album
Faith Evans — “R&B Divas”
Alicia Keys — “Girl on Fire” — WINNER
John Legend — “Love in the Future”
Chrisette Michele — “Better”
TGT — “Three Kings”

Best rap performance
Drake — “Started From the Bottom”
Eminem — “Berserk”
Jay Z — “Tom Ford”
Kendrick Lamar — “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz — “Thrift Shop” — WINNER

Best rap/sung collaboration
J. Cole featuring Miguel — “Power Trip”
Jay Z featuring Beyoncé — “Part II (On the Run)”
Jay Z featuring Justin Timberlake — “Holy Grail” — WINNER
Kendrick Lamar featuring Mary J. Blige — “Now or Never”
Wiz Khalifa featuring the Weeknd — “Remember You”

Best rap song
“F***in’ Problems” — A$AP Rocky featuring Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar
“Holy Grail” — Jay Z featuring Justin Timberlake
“New Slaves” — Kanye West
“Started From the Bottom” — Drake
“Thrift Shop” — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis — WINNER

Best rap album
Drake — “Nothing Was the Same”
Jay Z — “Magna Carta … Holy Grail”
Kendrick Lamar — “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis — “The Heist” — WINNER
Kanye West — “Yeezus”

Best country solo performance
Lee Brice — “I Drive Your Truck”
Hunter Hayes — “I Want Crazy”
Miranda Lambert — “Mama’s Broken Heart”
Darius Rucker — “Wagon Wheel” — WINNER
Blake Shelton — “Mine Would Be You”

Best country duo/group performance
The Civil Wars — “From This Valley” — WINNER
Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill — “Don’t Rush”
Little Big Town — “Your Side of the Bed”
Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban — “Highway Don’t Care”
Kenny Rogers With Dolly Parton — “You Can’t Make Old Friends”

Best country song
“Begin Again” — Taylor Swift
“I Drive Your Truck” — Lee Brice
“Mama’s Broken Heart” — Miranda Lambert
“Merry Go ’Round” — Kacey Musgraves — WINNER
“Mine Would Be You” — Blake Shelton

Best country album
Jason Aldean — “Night Train”
Tim McGraw — “Two Lanes of Freedom”
Kacey Musgraves — “Same Trailer Different Park” — WINNER
Blake Shelton — “Based on a True Story”
Taylor Swift — “Red”

Best Latin pop album
Frankie J — “Faith, Hope y Amor”
Ricardo Montaner — “Viajero Frecuente”
Draco Rosa — “Vida” — WINNER
Aleks Syntek — “Syntek”
Tommy Torres — “12 Historias”

Best Latin rock, urban or alternative album
Café Tacvba — “El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco”
El Tri — “Ojo Por Ojo”
Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas — “Chances”
La Santa Cecilia — “Treinta Dias” — WINNER
Los Amigos Invisibles — “Repeat After Me”

Producer of the year, nonclassical
Rob Cavallo
Dr. Luke
Ariel Rechtshaid
Jeff Tweedy
Pharrell Williams — WINNER

Best compilation soundtrack for visual media
“Django Unchained”
“The Great Gatsby” (deluxe edition)
“Les Miserables” (deluxe edition
“Muscle Shoals”
“Sound City: Real to Reel” — WINNER

Best score soundtrack for visual media
“The Great Gatsby”
“Life of Pi”
“Skyfall” — WINNER
“Zero Dark Thirty”

Best song written for visual media
Coldplay — “Atlas” — “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
Jessie J — “Silver Lining” — “Silver Linings Playbook”
Adele — “Skyfall” — “Skyfall” — WINNER
Colbie Caillat featuring Gavin DeGraw — “We Both Know” — “Safe Haven”
Lana Del Rey — “Young and Beautiful” — “The Great Gatsby” (deluxe edition)
Regina Spektor — “You’ve Got Time” — “Orange is the New Black”

Best music video
Captial Cities — “Safe and Sound”
Jay Z — “Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton — “Can’t Hold Us”
Justin Timberlake featuring Jay Z — “Suit & Tie” — WINNER
Jack White — “I’m Shakin'”

Best music film
Coldplay — “Live 2012″
Green Day — “¡Cuatro!”
Ben Harper With Charlie Musselwhite — “I’m in I’m Out and I’m Gone: The Making of Get Up!”
Paul McCartney — “Live Kisses” — WINNER
Mumford & Sons — “The Road to Red Rocks”

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