“This is the best concert of the year,” said Neil Patrick Harris, walking onstage Sunday night to introduce Daft Punk’s first televised appearance in six years.
Without meaning to, Harris deftly summed up what the Grammys has slowly, steadily become over the past decade — a broadcast more about performances and less about prizes. (The bulk of the 82 Grammys handed out this year were awarded during a pre-show ceremony.)
But that doesn’t mean the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has altogether forsaken honoring the music industry’s best and brightest.
Roughly a dozen golden gramophones were handed out Sunday during the 56th annual Grammy Awards, held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, including four for hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who won the best new artist prize.
“Before there was a story, there was our fans,” Macklemore said, upon accepting the Grammy. “Without them, there would be no us.”
The pair also contributed to what felt like a watershed civil-rights moment with the performance of their hit, Same Love. It was a moving highlight, featuring more than 30 mostly same-sex couples getting married by Queen Latifah and featuring a cameo from Madonna.
Lorde, whose smash hit Royals was awarded song of the year, performed and also took home a Grammy for best pop solo performance.
“Thanks to everyone who has helped the song explode, because it’s been mental,” the New Zealand native said from the stage.
While the trophies were ostensibly the talk of the night, most of the biggest moments didn’t involve any thank-you speeches.
Power couple Beyonce and Jay-Z kicked things off with a sizzling performance of her hit single Drunk in Love. Daft Punk, which won album of the year for its critically adored LP Random Access Memories, teamed up with Stevie Wonder and Nile Rodgers.
Robin Thicke joined forces with Chicago to middling effect, while rapper Kendrick Lamar and alt-rock buzz band Imagine Dragons fairly exploded off the screen.
Texas artists had a good night in Los Angeles, with critical darling and East Texas native Kacey Musgraves winning a Grammy for best country album and best country song (for Merry Go ’Round), as well as performing with her band clad in lighted Nudie suits.
“I got to make a record I poured myself into, and I’m so proud of … the Nashville songwriting community that truly inspired me and made me who I am,” Musgraves said of her debut effort, Same Trailer Different Park, during her acceptance speech.
Other Texas winners at the Grammys included Denton’s Snarky Puppy, which took home honors for best R&B performance, and Crowley native Jordan Richardson, who co-produced and played drums on Ben Harper’s Get Up!, the best blues album winner, and Oak Cliff’s Edie Brickell shared a Grammy for best American roots song with collaborator Steve Martin. Guy Clark won the first Grammy of his long career for best folk album, for last year’s My Favorite Picture of You.
Elsewhere, Fort Worth natives Chet Flippo and Van Cliburn were included in the annual “In Memoriam” segment, with classical pianist Lang Lang performing in tribute to Cliburn.
Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, the surviving Highwaymen, reunited to play a medley of hits, while Miranda Lambert joined forces with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong to pay homage to the late Phil Everly.
For a complete list of all the night’s winners, visit www.grammy.com.