To sum up the 56th Annual Grammy Awards: it was cool that Daft Punk and Lorde were victorious (with two and five trophies respectively); host LL Cool J was hilariously bad as usual; Macklemore robbed everyone; Beyoncé woke up like that. The end.
It was never going to be revelatory. Rap superstar Jay Z, after all, was the lead contender, with nine nods for what was universally acknowledged to be a mediocre album (he ended up with one win, for his grating Holy Grail duet with Justin Timberlake in the rap/sung collaboration category). And there was awards night staple Taylor Swift, once again being showered with accolades for a heartbreaker of a pop-masquerading-as-country record. The Grammys more than any other major awards show are out of touch with interesting, envelope-pushing, critically endorsed or passionately beloved music, it appears. This is nothing new, but it's still tiresome.
There were good moments, certainly. Instead of an elaborate opening act, the Grammys started with Beyoncé on a chair with wet hair, writhing Flashdance-style before being accompanied by husband Jay Z for a sweet, sexy romp through Drunk In Love.
But performance-wise it was a rocky road from there: nearly four hours of live singing and dancing that ranged from good (Pharrell, Stevie Wonder, Nile Rodgers and Daft Punk) to bad (Robin Thicke - in a pathetically obvious PR move to wipe our memories of his Miley Cyrus stint - getting onstage with Chicago).
And then there was Macklemore.
Everyone, from the get-go, was talking about the Seattle rapper, who, before the show had even begun, seemed destined to take home some major rap hardware. This is a major sticking point for even casual rap fans. To say that The Heist is a better hip-hop album than Kendrick Lamar's good kid m.A.A.d. city and Kanye West's Yeezus is like awarding best picture to Despicable Me 2 instead of Dallas Buyers Club or 12 Years A Slave. Along with producer Ryan Lewis, he ended up with four Grammys, including rap album of the year and best new artist.
But, to Macklemore's credit, he did text Kendrick Lamar later apologizing for robbing him. Plus, he's queer-positive, and brought that in a big way to the awards.
In the most exclamation-point moment of the night, 33 couples (gay and straight) were married onstage by Queen Latifah while Macklemore performed his pro-gay anthem Same Love. Yes, it's odd that he points out explicitly in the song that he, in fact, is definitely not gay. Yep, he really disprespects rap as a genre in the lyrics. And no, gay people don't need a hetero guy to sing their big anthem. All that said, I find it impossible to believe that Macklemore's intentions are bad, and having such a big gay love-in onstage was a beautiful thing. (As was Kasey Musgraves's earlier assertion in her song Follow Your Arrow that girls should kiss girls if they damn well please.)
Other stuff: though Pink's acrobatics were impressive, it makes zero sense to me how being able to perform Cirque du Soleil tricks while singing is something you should do at the Grammys. Like if Beyoncé came out doing origami while singing or Taylor Swift played piano with her feet while juggling clementines.
Elsewhere it was nice to see the Grammys taking risks, like Metallica and Chinese super-pianist Lang Lang putting a novel take on One; or Ringo playing backup drums to Paul McCartney while Yoko Ono sat in the audience (before she helped present the album of the year award).
And, maybe the purest moment of musical joy sans fanfare: Sara Bareilles and Carole King singing a double-piano medley of Beautiful and Brave.
Was it cool that Kendrick Lamar got to sing a powerful, controversial song like m.A.A.d city onstage? Yes. But it was sad that he had to be made palatable to offendable America by rocking out with - gulp - Imagine Dragons.
Finally, it was a quiet night for Toronto and Canada. Drake was shut out after scoring five nods and the Weeknd also came up empty handed. But Michael Bublé, Montreal's Jennifer Gasoi and Toronto-bred artist Chilly Gonzalez (who played piano on Random Access Memories) did go home winners, for best traditional pop vocal album, best children's album and album of the year, respectively.