A Night of Music Marked by Some Wild Mood Swings
(www.nytimes.com), The Grammy Awards broadcast, live on CBS from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, cautiously waited until after 11 p.m. to present its segment by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, a rapper-and-producer team from Seattle. As they performed their song supporting same-sex marriage, “Same Love,” 33 couples, gay and straight, got married; perhaps the worrisome content was not the marriages but an antigay epithet amid the rhymes. It had been a good night for the duo, which was named best new artist and won three rap categories (only the Grammys don’t call it hip-hop). They were joined onstage by Madonna, singing “Open Your Heart”; by Queen Latifah presiding over the vows; and by the song’s chorus singer, Mary Lambert.
That performance was on the positive-message side of what has long been an arena concert punctuated by the occasional award presentation. The show handed out 10 awards amid nearly two dozen performances; the other 72 awards were presented earlier in the day at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. The broadcast had its own theme: wild mood swings between righteous idealism and lust. It also, as usual, featured collaborations both sensible and bizarre.
On the virtuous side was the teenage New Zealand songwriter Lorde, who gave a goth-tinged rendition of “Royals,” a song about resisting the materialism promoted by pop culture; it was named song of the year and best pop solo performance. Kacey Musgraves, whose “Merry Go ’Round” was named best country song and whose “Same Trailer Different Park” was named best country album, performed her “Follow Your Arrow,” a song encouraging self-determination and tolerance.
Pink sang “Try,” an exhortation to keep striving, while performing an aerialist routine, before returning to the stage to belt “Just Give Me a Reason,” a reconciliation duet, with Nate Ruess of the band Fun. A cross-generational collaboration of the piano-pounding songwriters Carole King and Sara Bareilles meshed two self-esteem anthems, Ms. King’s “Beautiful” and Ms. Bareilles’s “Brave.” And the country singer Hunter Hayes introduced his new single, “Invisible,” an anti-bullying hymn.
But to counter all that probity, the broadcast started with a strobe-lighted, spread-legged infusion of raunch: Beyoncé and Jay Z performing “Drunk in Love,” which kept the network’s censors busy silencing cusswords but letting through the song’s amorous double- and single-entendres. Daft Punk, the French dance-music duo that spent the broadcast incognito, as usual, in helmets, performed “Get Lucky,” about staying up all night to “get some.” It was named record of the year; they did not speak as they accepted the award.
Daft Punk’s performance was one of the night’s more coherent collaborations. The group enlisted studio musicians, including the guitarist Nile Rodgers from the disco-era hitmakers Chic, to make “Random Access Memories,” which was named album of the year and best dance/electronica album. Mr. Rodgers rejoined them, as did the song’s vocalist, Pharrell Williams — winner of producer of the year, nonclassical — to perform “Get Lucky” with Stevie Wonder sitting in and snippets from Chic and Mr. Wonder that meshed with the song’s disco nostalgia; the celebrity musicians got up and danced.
Fifty years after the Beatles arrived in the United States, Paul McCartney was backed once again by Ringo Starr on drums — and a second drummer — in “Queenie Eye,” a song from his 2013 album, “New.” Blake Shelton joined three more venerable country singers — Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard — for a country oldies medley. Billie Joe Armstrong, from Green Day, and the country singer Miranda Lambert were also compatible performing a hearty tribute to Phil Everly, “When Will I Be Loved”; Mr. Armstrong and Norah Jones released a duet album of Everly Brothers songs in 2013.
A collaboration that seemed more absurd in prospect — Metallica with the classical pianist Lang Lang, performing “One,” Metallica’s song about a badly wounded soldier — ended up mingling power-ballad bombast with two-fisted Romantic piano bombast. But the show also included a preposterous attempt to merge Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive” (best rock performance) with the rapper Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid, m.A.A.d city” that was largely a shouting match; Mr. Lamar, more cutting and quicker-tongued, prevailed. Robin Thicke was tossed together with Chicago, whose versions of their old hits had gone slack. Singing his come-on “Blurred Lines” with them, Mr. Thicke sounded like a lounge singer in training.
The show’s finale was another coalition of musicians: Queens of the Stone Age; Dave Grohl from Nirvana and the Foo Fighters; Nine Inch Nails; and Lindsey Buckingham, Fleetwood Mac’s guitarist. It wasn’t entirely improbable; Mr. Buckingham sat in on last year’s Nine Inch Nails album, “Hesitation Marks,” and other musicians had worked together in various combinations. And by that point, all they needed to be was loud; the show had run over time, and viewers never saw the final blast.