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Grammy Show: Light On Awards, Heavy On Entertainment


Well, let's move from the pre-telecast to the artists you did see on TV, if you were watching; the winners and nominees who were on stage at the Staples Center for a marathon evening ceremony. NPR television critic Eric Deggans joins us to talk about the big show.

Good morning.


MONTAGNE: First, let me ask you this. With most of the awards given out actually before the ceremony, the Grammys - unlike the Oscars - are not really an awards show. What would you call it?

DEGGANS: Well, the Grammys are really two or three different kinds of shows mashed together. They do give out some awards, as you said, they gave out 10. But they also have these high-powered musical acts and combinations that perform together; they become essentially a variety show. You know, there's a sense that young people won't necessarily watch an old school variety show, like Ed Sullivan, so it's gussied up in the guise of an award show like the Grammys that bring together all these high-powered acts.

MONTAGNE: And it is hugely popular. I mean people around the world watch it. And CBS re-upped its deal with Recording Academy; a deal reportedly worth more than $20 million a year to carry the show into the next decade, they think it's going to keep happening for the next 10 years?

DEGGANS: Certainly. And what's going on here is the value of live programming. In the age of the DVR, people are recording everything, they're watching it later - they're maybe not even watching it all - and they're skipping over the commercials. So a show that's live, that people want to know the answers to in a moment is very valuable, because then people have to watch all the commercials. And it's also a great promotional platform for CBS. Use all of these CBS stars flown in for no reason.


DEGGANS: So, you know, Pauley Perrette from "NCIS" the social media correspondent for the Grammys. Just another excuse essentially to mention the CBS show it during the proceedings.

MONTAGNE: OK, so but back - OK, let's get us back to the Grammys. What did you think of what has come to be called Grammy moments, the unlikely pairings like classical pianist Lang Lang performing with Metallica, for instance?

DEGGANS: Sure, well, one of my favorite moments last night involved Daft Punk performing with Pharell Williams, Stevie Wonder and Nile Rogers from Chic. Let's listen to a little bit of it.

DAFT PUNK, PHARRELL WILLIAMS, STEVIE WONDER AND NILE ROGERS: (Singing) Come on, Steve. The present have no ribbons, your gift just keeps on giving...


DEGGANS: Now, that was the pairing that worked. But there were some that didn't. I imagine some of the young people were scratching their heads when they saw Robin Thicke come out and perform with Chicago. They kind of sounded like the world's greatest wedding band.


MONTAGNE: Well, all right. Well, you know you are live blogging. You were among the people also live tweeting throughout the show. What was her favorite part of the show? Or I guess you're not going to admit to snarky comments, right?

DEGGANS: I will certainly admit to snarky comments. There were plenty of them on my Twitter feed. But what I really loved was when social message came together with a powerful music performance. And we saw this with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis singing their song "Same Love," at the same time that a wedding was performed on stage. And I think we have a little bit of that, too.

QUEEN LATIFAH: This song is a love song not for some of us, but for all of us. And tonight, we celebrate the commitment to love by some very beautiful couples. Joined by Mary Lambert and New Orleans own Trombone Shorty, here's Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and an uplifting song that says: Whatever God you believe in, we come from the same one; strip away the fear, underneath it's all the same love.


MONTAGNE: And that, by the way, was Queen Latifah.

DEGGANS: Exactly, Queen Latifah. You got 33 couples getting married. You got Queen Latifah marrying them. Some of them were same-sex couples. And you got Madonna coming in and singing at the end of your ceremony. I mean, five years later, how do you top that? I mean that's an amazing thing to tell your kids.

MONTAGNE: Well, in the few seconds we have left let's talk about Pharell Williams who was pretty funny translating for the non-speaking musicians of Daft Punk. You had some fun tweeting about the hat Williams was wearing. Tell us about the hat.

DEGGANS: Well, Pharell came on with this hat that looked like something Smokey the Bear would wear or something.


DEGGANS: And it Immediately gained attention from the Twitterverse. Of course, 10 minutes into the - after he appeared on camera, someone created Pharell's hat - the Twitter account. And Neil Patrick Harris tweeted a joke about it. And then by the end of it, Arby's actually tweeted a little joke at Pharell, because the hat looked like the logo for the restaurant chain.

MONTAGNE: OK. Eric Deggans, NPR's TV critic, speaking about the Grammys. And you're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.