MY THREE CENTS: The Day After — A Look Back At The 2014 Grammys

Nile Rodgers, Paul Williams, Daft Punk
Nile Rodgers, Paul Williams, and Daft Punk accept the award for Album of the Year during the 2014 Grammys on Sunday night. (AP photo)

It’s probably safe to say that the biggest winners to come out of Sunday night’s installment of the Grammys were The Robots.

Also known as the French electric music team of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, The Robots stole the show, not to mention the Twitter-verse, by racking up three of the night’s bigger awards, including Record of the Year (“Get Lucky”), Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and, of course, the biggie, Album of the Year for “Random Access Memories.”

One of the first things I did on Monday morning was hop onto my Spotify and give “Random Access Memories” a listen. I wasn’t sure what to expect but three songs in I found myself enjoying it … which, I admit, surprised me.

But I’ve been surprised a lot by music lately. Over the past year, I’ve really gotten into music. I’ve always enjoyed from music, even from my youngest days when I can recall Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods begging “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero” or picturing the scene painted out during Paper Lace’s “The Night Chicago Died.”

Music has always been one of the things that can immediately take us back to a time and place, to an era we might always cherish, or perhaps even hope to someday forget. But it’s the closest thing we have to a time machine and it does it’s job better than a DeLorean.

Because I’ve spent a big part of the last 365 days exploring new music and attending concerts at every opportunity I’ve had, I’ve come to appreciate all kinds of music in vastly different ways. This is just another reason why I’ve been intrigued by sounds my ears have never gravitated to before. After all, when you open your ears, your head and your heart to new ideas, you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised sometimes.

This is perhaps a big reason why I viewed the entire “Daft Punk” story line playing out the way it did last night with such a high interest.

When they won their first Grammy, Pharrell Williams did all the talking for “The Robots” and it provided a moment of comic relief.

When the two made their way up to the stage for their second award, they had people’s attention.

And when it was announced that they won “Album of the Year” — which, let’s face it, is the Grammy’s version of “Best Picture” at the Oscars — it became obvious that they had put together something special.

But it was still plenty bizarre and legendary songwriter Paul Williams made that obvious during his acceptance speech when he said, “Back when I was drinking and using, I used to imagine things that weren’t there … And then I got sober and two robots called me and asked me to make an album.”

As I watched the televised version of the show last night, I was following along on Twitter to gauge people’s reaction, and the futuristic garb worn by The Robots was certainly gathering people’s attention. (According to their Wikipedia page, “Daft Punk is noted for its elaborate live stage shows, in which visual elements and effects are incorporated with the music. The group is known for its emphasis on using visual and story components associated with their musical productions. Daft Punk is also known for its use of disguises while in public and/or performing; specifically ornate helmets and gloves to assume robot personas in most of their public appearances since 2001. The duo rarely grant interviews or appear on television.”)

In other words, this was no act they putting on. This is who they’ve been as artists for a long time. In fact, the most staggering factoid I’ve learned is that Daft Punk has actually been around since 1993. That’s 20 years of hard work and toiling in the sometimes unfriendly world of the music industry that preceded last night’s win folks. That’s impressive.

Sadly, too many small-minded people simply ridiculed them, but that’s one of the downfalls in our society in the 21st century. Many of the naysayers likely had never heard of “Daft Punk” before last night, but because they were different, they were an instant source for ridicule.

The entire night went that way through Twitter, though.

Lorde
Lorde poses in the press room with the awards for best pop solo performance and song of the year for “Royals” at the 56th annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)

When Lorde won her two Grammys, the haters were there to put her down, too.

I’m especially glad that Lorde — whose in the real world is 17-year-old New Zealander Ella Yelich-O’Connor — walked off with some hardware last night. I discovered her music before most and always like what I heard.

She’s brilliant for so being so young and so new to the industry. Her EP, which helped launch her big hit, “Royals” was more than a one-song wonder, and her debut album “Pure Heroine” is full of songs that bely her age and inexperience. (Her song “Tennis Courts” is perhaps my favorite, surpassing even “Royals.”)

While I was ahead of the curve with Lorde and behind it with “Daft Punk” there were plenty of other moments last night that were right in my wheelhouse.

One of the most disappointing moments for me was the pairing of Robin Thicke and Chicago. I don’t mind most of Chicago’s music and I enjoyed Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” but the two together just didn’t click for me. Oil and water? Perhaps. More like pudding and soda pop, though.

Like I said, it was the Grammys 2014 biggest fail.

For me, the best odd-matchmaking proved to be Kendrick Lamar, a rapper, with Imagine Dragons. I don’t know how or why, but it definitely worked.

I felt bad for country music upstart Kacey Musgraves, who had to take the stage right after and was lost in the wake of the energy of Lamar and Dragons brought to their performance. (Sidenote: I’ll be checking out Musgraves personally when I see her in concert with Lady Antebellum this weekend).

Coming in a close second, IMHO, was the duet with Carole King and Sara Bareilles, who did a great job with Bareilles’ hit “Brave.”

The show opened with a Beyonce-Jay Z duo which is was big in name and power, but did little for me personally. John Legend was good, too, and that song, an ode to his girlfriend/fiancee Chrissy Teigen is outstanding. Taylor Swift was equal to the task, as well. (How’s your neck there, Taylor? A little sore after that head-banging moment?). Pink and Nate Ruess (the frontman for the band fun.) were solid, also.

The Paul McCartney-Ringo Starr thing did little for me. I’ve never been a huge Beatles guy, having been born a little too late to be part of the craze. Sure, there are Beatles songs I like, but overall I’ve just never understood the madness behind them. They have my respect because they’re the Beatles and are a huge part of music’s roots, but that doesn’t mean I have to be overly enthralled by them, right?

The emotional highlight, without a doubt, was Macklemore and Ryan Lewis joining forces with Mary Lambert to sing their song, “Same Love,” as 33 couples as diverse and real as the world we live in, were married, for better or worse, ’til death to them part. (Just think: All of them get to see Beyonce was at their wedding).

Twitter again exploded some people admitting they were touched and in tears by the moment, to the more idiotic right wing zealots putting down the moment by saying it was a disgrace to God. Madonna’s surprise appearance also drew a  lot of negative comments, but guess what? She’s still richer and more talented than most people in the room, so sticks and stones).

All in all, I admit that I enjoyed the 2014 Grammys more than I ever have in the past.

I am more excited, though, with what 2014 will bring in terms of music and its stars as I take in more shows and explore more new music in deeper ways than I ever have before.

And if that leads me to “Get Lucky” and get back to listening to Daft Punk a little more then so be it.

For a link of all the Grammy winners for 2014, just click here.

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