From left, Krist Novoselic, Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, and Pat Smear accept the Best Rock Song award for "Cut Me Some Slack" onstage during the Grammys. Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
The Grammys have increasingly focused on bridging generation gaps — like pairing up old and young performers for live musical collaborations — and the awards presented at the beginning of the 56th annual show also followed this formula.
Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers won Best Pop Duo/Group Performance Grammy for "Get Lucky," a victory that makes perfect sense for the Academy of Arts and Sciences, since it already pairs veterans with new blood.
This theme was clearest when Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, Pat Smear and Krist Novoselic won the award for Best Rock Song.
"I have to say that we wouldn't be here if it weren't for Paul and for Ringo," said Grohl.
Over his shoulder, the tall personality that is former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic chimed in with a shout-out to a few of the other nominees in their category, "Or the Rolling Stones, or Black Sabbath!"
Representing the young blood, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were the first to step up to the podium to claim an award during the televised ceremony. (They had already won three before the cameras were rolling.)
“We made this album without a record label,” said Macklemore, beaming as he accepted the Grammy for Best New Artist.
The duo would later be instrumental in one of the evening’s most poignant moments. As they performed their latest single, “Same Love,” with Mary Lambert and Trombone Shorty, more than 30 couples (some gay, some straight) took their wedding vows as Queen Latifah officiated. After the couples were wed, Madonna made a grand entrance, looking like a whitewashed cowgirl, singing “Open Your Heart.” This was the sort of inter-generational collaboration that bridged more than one gulf.
As is often the case though, some of the pairings just seemed too forced. Sure, Gary Clarke Jr. can rip on the guitar, but that doesn’t mean he should be trading licks with Keith Urban. And why was Robin Thicke performing with Chicago? Did he promise his dad he’d do that as a Boxing Day gift? Why did Lang Lang perform with Metallica? Was somebody a beneficiary of the Make-a-Wish Foundation?
The grand finale rock jam with Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl and Lindsey Buckingham was sloppy and loud, but it was fun.
One collaboration that worked especially well, however, was between two newer acts: Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar doing a live mash-up of their respective hits, “Radioactive” and “M.A.A.d City.” Cannons full of smoke and fake blood blasted them as they swung mallets at enormous bass drums and inspired Lorde and Taylor Swift to dance (the latter, a feat that isn’t that difficult at awards shows) and Steven Tyler to sing along.
Other duos that wowed included Beyonce and Jay Z. Silhouetted against pink lights and a field of mist, Beyonce kicked off the show, looking like she just got out of the shower to perform a duet with her tuxedoed husband on "Drunk in Love."
Katy Perry may have been the fairest of them all with her performance of "Dark Horse," looking like the evil queen from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" as her performance began inside a giant snow globe. Juicy J joined her.
Lorde performed a sultry version of "Royals," commanding the mic as she sang to backing tracks of her own voice, but dancing like a student of the Elaine Benes School of Dance.