News Column

Amid uncertain times for music industry, Grammy Awards find comfort in the past

January 27, 2014

By Timothy Finn, The Kansas City Star

Jan. 27 --The 56th annual Grammy Awards made it clear from the outset what the show would be: a three-and-a-half-hour, prime-time showcase of the industry's regal past, its star-spangled present and its uncertain and ever-changing future. Amid 18 performances, nine awards were presented during the telecast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday night. The helmeted and speechless (literally) electronic duo Daft Punk took home two of the biggest trophies. But no award was more surprising than in the best-country album category -- Kacey Musgraves won for her major-label-debut album, " Same Trailer Different Park ." The 25-year-old won in a category stocked with veterans and multi-platinum heavyweights: Taylor Swift , Tim McGraw , Blake Shelton and Jason Aldean . During the telecast, Musgraves performed "Follow Your Arrow," a song that endorses pursuit of whatever your heart tells you, whether it's smoking weed or a same-sex relationship. The gay-rights theme arose later in the telecast. During Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' live rendition of "Same Love," featuring a guest appearance by Madonna, the ceremony broadcast the wedding nuptials of dozens of couples who were gay, straight, old, young and of all races in the Staples Center . The night's biggest awards went to Daft Punk for album of the year for "Random Access Memories" ( Paul Williams gave their acceptance speech) and for record of the year for "Get Lucky"; Lorde for song of the year for "Royals," which she has said was inspired by a National Geographic photograph of George Brett in uniform; and to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for best new artist. Song of the year is for songwriting; record of the year is for production. The presentations were relatively few, and acceptance speeches were brief so the producers could fill the time with live performances, some of which were more sentimentally fullfilling than technically satisfying. None was more marquee than the reunion of two former Beatles. Ringo Starr joined in on drums as Paul McCartney and his band performed " Queenie Eye ," a single off his 2013 album, "New." Earlier in the telecast, Starr took lead vocals on one of his post-Beatles hits, "Photograph," backed by a band that included Don Was, Kenny Arnoff and Peter Frampton . It was one of several performances by some of the most decorated and revered recording artists in popular music history. Another: Merle Haggard , Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson , joined by Shelton, who performed "The Highwaymen," "Okie From Muskogee" and "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys." Other noteworthy performances: Beyonce 's "Drunk in Love," in which she was joined by husband Jay Z; Metallica's uneven but intriguing colllaboration with concert pianist Lang Lang on their song "One"; Pink's high-flying rendition of "Try," followed by her collaboration on "Just Give Me a Reason" with Nate Reuss of the band Fun; Sara Bareilles and Carole King's dueling-pianos duet on a medley of some of King's greatest hits; Daft Punk's performance of "Get Lucky," in which they were joined by Niles Rodgers , rapper Pharrell and special guest Stevie Wonder , which set off plenty of dancing in the arena. After remembering some of the music giants who died in the previous year, including giants like George Jones , Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong and country star Miranda Lambert performed "When Will I Be Loved" as a tender tribute to Don Everly of the Everly Brothers, who died on Jan. 3 . Some of the other performances lacked polish or punch. Lorde's rearranged version of "Royals" was one; so was the hyper-percussive and -energetic collaboration between Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons. The Recording Industry is facing uncertain times. Winning a Grammy may give a commercial bump to young artists like Musgraves and Hunter Hayes , who performed his new single, "Invisible" early in the show. But this year's show was devoted as much to the industry's lauded past as it was to today's stars. To reach Timothy Finn , call 816-234-4781 or send email to . Follow him at . Read more from him at our music blog, Back to Rockville , at . ___ (c)2014 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) Visit The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Source: Kansas City Star (MO)

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