Grammys: 7 Lessons From the 2014 Music Awards
From the trouble with back-to-back ballads and the brilliance of front-loading Beyonce to the night's most-animated audience member (spoiler alert: it's Yoko Ono), THR identifies the key takeaways from this year's Grammy telecast.
Even with the biggest names in music in the same room, keeping an audience captive for a whopping 224 minutes is no easy task. The Grammys are often an endurance test, and 2014 proved no exception.
The triumphs -- Beyonce, a flash wedding, collaborations for the ages -- seemed to outweigh the speed bumps this year, but a few quick takeaways from the night may help the show move at a healthier clip in the future.
1. Give the People Beyonce
Sure, there's something to be said for playing your cards close to the vest. There's also something to be said for giving the people what they want. The Grammys could have delayed the much-hyped Beyonce/Jay Z duet until later in the evening, but producers graciously chose to kick the night off with music's first couple. A stockinged Beyonce chair-dancing her way through "Drunk in Love" on a bare stage proved an ideal opener and set a high bar for the rest of the show.
2. Not All Awards Shows Need Hosts
LL Cool J's combination of waxing nostalgic on the power of music -- "It brings us together!" "It thaws polar vertexes!" -- and cheesy dad jokes could have been easily overlooked if they didn't seem like delay tactics in a show that could easily have shaved a half-hour off its running time. He's charming, and the acts much appreciated the enthusiastic intros, but he could have delivered with 90 percent less editorializing.
3. Stagger the Slow Jams
Just after 9 p.m. ET, only an hour into the show, Taylor Swift became the second singer to sit down at a piano for a midtempo ballad in just as many performances (John Legend flirted with elevator music moments earlier). Yes, "All Too Well" momentarily hijacked Twitter and the brief channeling of Linda Blair was a show highlight, but energy dips of this length so early in the evening are the kinds of things that send people at home on eternal snack breaks.
4. Stop Recycling
With all respect to Pink and the countless days she no doubt spent perfecting her Cirque du Soleil shtick, we've seen it before. I barely remember what it's like seeing her perform with both feet on the ground. The aerial antics actually made their TV debut at the 2010 Grammys, for the aptly titled "Glitter in the Air," and now the rafter dance has come full circle. It's time to hang up the harness.
5. Less Is More ... More Is Too Much
Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar: two acts many Grammy viewers may not have been familiar with going into Sunday's show certainly won't be able to pick out of a lineup on Monday. The band and the rapper delivered one of the night's more rousing performances, a mashup of respective hits "Radioactive" and "M.A.A.D City," but the fire, strobes, colored powders and steam shooting from the stage, documented by spastic camera cuts, obscured much of the fusion for everyone watching on the tube.
6. Yoko Ono Was Made for the Front Row
It turns out Taylor Swift does not have the monopoly on audience participation. John Lennon's widow, front and center for the night's Beatles moment, became a cameraman favorite with her mom-at-a-wedding dance moves, trademark two-finger offering of "peace" and her clearly eclectic tastes. Together, we can make her an awards show circuit fixture.
7. Keep Loving the Old Guard
Madonna joining Macklemore and Ryan Lewis may grab most of the headlines around the Grammys, but the show's dogged commitment to unlikely pairings and surprise collaborations fueled so much of the night. Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard palling around with Blake Shelton, and Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams enlisting Stevie Wonder and Nile Rodgers were two performances for the Grammy books.
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