The 2014 Grammy Awards were so boring! Every year, it’s a bloated, largely out-of-touch affair, but this year in particular seemed especially thin, lacking one of those zeitgeist-capturing moments that defines our collective memory of the night. The 56th Grammys dragged on with superfluous collaborations and ridiculously insipid MCing from LL Cool J, plus so many shaky performances from old white dudes knocking on heaven’s door (did we really need two doses of Ringo Starr?).
But there were some genuinely entertaining moments among all this slurry. Every shot of Steven Tyler was like a two-second roller coaster ride. Some of the collaborations worked far better than they should have (Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons, Metallica and Lang Lang.) The Macklemore/Queen Latifah marriage extravaganza thing was equal parts touching and mind-boggling, and that was before Madonna showed up in a cowboy hat. The speeches were generally quick and earnest; if only the same could be said about the overall broadcast.
Below, check out our roundup of the night’s best and worst moments.
1. Seeing Taylor Swift’s real surprise face.
Those “All Too Well” hairflips? Orchestrated emotion. But her face when she heard, “And the Grammy goes to…
Red Random Access Memories,” that was legit shock. Those R’s will get ya. Poor Taylor, if The Heist had won, we’d be doing this as a GIF of Sara Bareilles thinking they were about to say “The Blessed Unrest.” And just for good measure, here’s Tay forcing out a smile through clenched teeth after losing Best Country Album to Kacey Musgraves:
2. Pharrell’s hats
Within seconds of Skateboard P walking the red carpet, there was a Twitter handle for his hat. And to the glee of viewers, he kept the giant Mountie hat on during the ceremony, then switched to another big piece of headgear for the “Get Lucky” performance. Maybe he was trying to outdo the robot helmets.
3. Everything involving Daft Punk
Sure, if Daft Punk really wanted to remain anonymous, they could’ve skipped the show. But it was pretty cool to see those helmets amongst the glitterati, and it also meant each time they won, their silence ensured others involved in RAM got a few seconds at the mic. Plus, the “Get Lucky” performance with Stevie Wonder was a perfectly pristine and strange dose of breezy funk.
Bow down to your new pop overlorde (had to, sorry). In a night of upsets, the most surprising thing may have been seeing the New Zealand teen beat out the likes of Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, and Macklemore. It also helped that she was charming and exceedingly normal during her acceptance speeches. We may be tired of “Royals” but we’re still not tired of the newest member of pop royalty.
5. Hearing Lana Del Rey’s “Once Upon A Dream” during a commercial.
Just how lame were the Grammys this year? So lame that the trailer for Maleficent was one of the best moments, thanks to a snippet of Lana Del Rey‘s gloomy rendition of the Snow White theme “Once Upon A Dream.” Lana’s got that soundtrack game on lock.
1. LL Cool J is still very embarrassing.
Network self-promotion and synergy is one thing, but my God, this is just getting insulting. If you want to shove CBS promo down our throats for 3.5 hours, at least have the decency to entertain us in the process! One of my favorite tweets of the night summed it up, saying LL is just Twitter as a human: all puns and inspirational platitudes. And it turns out Twitter makes for really bad television! (After turning a thriving Twitter account into a failed TV show, you’d think CBS would’ve known that.)
2. Rap is still getting shafted.
Sure, we had performances from Jay Z, Kendrick, Juicy J and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, but… Best Rap Song and Best Rap Album weren’t even included in the telecast. It’s been the same thing every year for a while now: how much baby boomer rock can we highlight, people? I love Nine Inch Nails, I love Queens of the Stone Age, I love Dave Grohl. But the three of them shouldn’t have closed out the show. Imagine how much more lively it would’ve been with, say, A$AP Rocky, K-Dot, Danny Brown, etc for “1 Train,” or even Jay Z’s “BBC” with Pharrell, Nas and others.
3. This whole disappointment took 3.5 hours.
Despite the absurd runtime, only ten awards were actually handed out during the telecast. Even the night’s best performances were just well-executed snoozers (Taylor, Kacey, Sara, half of Daft Punk’s set). The whole show could’ve just been Kendrick going H.A.M. as Pink danced in the sky above him, and I think people would’ve been happier.
4. So much bad dad dancing:
5. “Social Media Reporter”
How many executives did it take to sign off on having a “social media reporter” backstage who forced us to watch her take selfies? Just, no.