Macklemore & Ryan Lewis didn’t heist the Grammys. Lorde and her “Royals” didn’t rule the night. But Daft Punk did get lucky — doubly lucky.
The French duo, who always dress as helmeted robots in public, won album of the year Sunday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles for “Random Access Memories,” an innovative party collection that is the first dance record to win the best-album Grammy since — gulp — the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack in 1979.
Daft Punk also took record of the year for the infectious workout “Get Lucky.” In all, “Random Access Memories” took five trophies, including best dance/electronica recording.
Of course, the robots — Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter — didn’t say anything at the podium. They don’t speak; they make music. Longtime songwriting ace Paul Williams, who once wrote hits for the Carpenters, acted as something of a spokesman for the big award, though his speech was as much about himself (he penned lyrics for two tracks and also sang on the album) as about Daft Punk.
He talked about imagining winning big on the Grammys years ago: “Then I got sober and two robots called me and asked me to work on an album. Some of us are more random than others.”
If Macklemore & Ryan Lewis didn’t collect all the top prizes — they snared four, including best new artist — they certainly had the most unforgettable performance. Song-of-the-year nominee “Same Love,” in which the rapper talks about stereotypes of homosexuality and his two gay uncles, turned into a celebration, complete with Queen Latifah “officiating” over the marriage of 33 couples (some same-sex) and Madonna, wearing all white including a cowgirl hat and cane, singing “Open Your Heart” in a mashup with the chorus of “Same Love” (“my love, she keeps me warm”) .
Now that, as producers of the 56th annual award show like to say, was a Grammy moment.
Other newcomers had big nights on Sunday.
Egg-headed outsider Lorde, 17, captured song of the year for “Royals,” her sardonic, minimalist reflection on what it would be like to be a star. The soft-voiced newcomer from New Zealand will probably get plenty of buzz after topping Pink, Perry, Bruno Mars and Macklemore & Lewis for song of the year, and adding another Grammy for best pop vocal performance.
Kacey Musgraves also was a double winner, winning best country song for “Merry Go Round” and best country album for “Same Trailer Different Park.” She crooned the open-minded “Follow Your Arrow,” which encourages people to be open to smoking pot, same-sex relationships, promiscuity or marriage — essentially following your arrow wherever it points. Musgraves’ own arrow pointed to cowgirl boots decorated with Christmas lights.
Who scored big on stage?
The Grammy scorecard from Sunday: There were 20 performances, 12 collaborations between not-so-obvious musicians and only 10 trophies presented during the 3½-hour telecast — about three per hour. And about 40 camera shots of Paul McCartney, who was in the audience, performed onstage and was connected to four Grammys (including one with Dave Grohl and other members of Nirvana).
So let’s assess more of the performances.
Beyoncé opened the Grammys for a second time — remember her with Prince in 2004? — doing “Drunken Love” featuring a rap by Jay Z, her husband. Yes, they are music’s biggest power couple, but this was a dark, dark opening segment (though we kinda liked Beyoncé’s new shorter hairdo).
The only performance that may have been darker was Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” featuring rapper Juicy J. Perry wore black, save for a glowing red cross on her top. There also was a dark (faux) horse onstage, as well as fire at some point.
Is this what we expected from two of the biggest pop divas in the planet on music’s biggest night? Probably not.
At least, Taylor Swift delivered. No off-key collaborations this time, like her 2010 Grammy duet with Stevie Nicks. Swift took no chances, starting “All Too Well” solo at the piano, her gauzy voice ringing true, before a choir and her band turned it into a power ballad.
Speaking of pop divas, Pink stole the show Sunday with her spinning, doing-the-splits, mid-air, Cirque du Soleil performance of “Try” — complete with a pas de deux onstage — followed by a passionate vocal battle with Nate Ruess of fun. on “Just Give Me a Reason.” Pink proved she’s bold, with a big voice to match.
Ringo Starr, McCartney’s old bandmate, flashed back to his 1973 solo smash “Photograph,” then played drums as McCartney rocked a new number, “Queenie Eye.”
The show’s producers tried hard to generate electricity with unexpected collaborations. One was marrying Imagine Dragons, the biggest new rock band of 2012, with rapper Kendrick Lamar, whose intensity matched the urgency of the band’s smash “Radioactive.”
There was no more singular performance than Metallica doing “One” with classical pianist Lang Lang in a merger of fury and fire.And Stevie Wonder found common ground with Daft Punk on “Get Lucky,” with its old-school soul hook. No, make that higher ground.
Twitter: @JonBream • 612-673-1719