The 56th Annual Grammy Awards, which honored outstanding achievements in music, aired live last Sunday from Los Angeles.  This year’s show did not disappoint, as it featured amazing performances, big name winners, and bold red carpet looks.

Music’s hottest couple, Beyoncé and Jay Z, opened the Grammys with a sexy production of their collaboration “Drunk in Love,” from the former’s latest self-titled album.  The song began with Beyoncé writhing sensuously in a chair, while the stage filled with smoke.  A few minutes in, Jay Z joined his partner onstage for a performance of his rap verse.  Their chemistry was palpable as they danced and sang seductively together for the remainder of the song.  The crowd gave the power duo a standing ovation as they hugged and exited the stage, arm in arm.  Later that night, Jay Z picked up two awards:  Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Holy Grail,” featuring Justin Timberlake, and Best Music Video, for his work on Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie”.

Lorde, a seventeen year-old singer-songwriter from New Zealand, gave the crowd a stripped-down version of her hit “Royals”.  From the stage lighting to her dip-dyed black fingertips, Lorde’s performance was performed in an eerie, dark light. The singer’s unconventional clothing choice and animated mannerisms matched the off-kilter pop tones in her chart topping hit.

Former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr reunited onstage for a performance of “Queenie Eye”, coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of that band’s milestone performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” which first aired in February 1964.  The collaboration brought many audience members to their feet, dancing, including Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow.

same love grammysThe most memorable production of the night was easily the emotionally-charged production of “Same Love” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, which also featured Madonna and Mary Lambert.  As presenter Queen Latifah passionately declared, “Same Love” is “a love song for not some of us, but for all of us.”  The vocalists poignantly sang about stereotypes, unfair persecution of gays, and the importance of love for all.  Queen Latifah then appeared, entering through a chapel on the stage, to announce that thirty-three couples in the audience – gay and straight – were gathered at the Grammys at that very moment to get married; as a commissioner legally appointed by the state of California, she was declaring them each “a married couple!”  As the couples kissed, Madonna joined the performers onstage to deliver “Open Your Heart,” backed by a gospel choir.

Rebecca Wolinski of Central Maine Community College noted, “The fact that there was a standing ovation after says a lot about how much our country is progressing towards equal rights for everyone.”

In addition to making history with their ground breaking performance, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song for “Thrift Shop”, and Best Rap Album for The Heist.

The biggest winner of the night was Daft Punk; the French electro duo earned five awards:  Album of the Year, Best Dance/Electronica Album, and Best Engineered Album for Random Access Memories (which was engineered by Maine’s own Bob Ludwig); as well as Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Record of the Year for “Get Lucky”.  Pharrell Williams also won three Grammys for his features on the Daft Punk album.

Metallic dresses were the trend on this year’s Grammy red carpet.  Ciara, Rita Ora, Amber Rose, Christine Teigen, and Taylor Swift all opted for gold, copper, or shimmering green gowns.

Haley Kaliher of College of the St. Rose stated that Swift “was on point, as usual.”

Another popular look featured the combination of black and white, with Madonna, Katy Perry, Sarah Hyland, and Paula Patton all sporting dual-color ensembles.

My best-dressed pick goes to Best Song Written for Visual Media nominee Colbie Caillat.  Although she did not win for her collaboration with Gavin Degraw of “We Both Know,” Caillat’s look was certainly a show-stopper.  She donned a red dress by Dubai-based fashion designer Ezra Santos.  The gown was made of a feather-like material, featuring a high neckline and an eye-catching cross-body cutout.  Although a looser hairstyle would have been more flattering than her tight topknot, Caillat’s appearance on the red carpet was still breathtaking.

The 2014 Grammy Awards featured steamy performances and a few hidden surprises.  And, among other things, with its first ever live wedding ceremony, the night was certainly one for the record books.