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Grammy Awards 2014 highs, lows: Was Beyoncé too risqué?

And not just because she can move those hips in ways which would put the rest of us into hospital. Miley Cyrus suffered seven shades…

And not just because she can move those hips in ways which would put the rest of us into hospital. Miley Cyrus suffered seven shades of moralising hell about her performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, which featured crotch grabbing, tongue poking, suggestive (giant) hand gestures and what may turn out to be the ultimate example of twerking — grinding her behind into the crotch of Robin Thicke — while wearing not a lot.
Cyrus was accused of being exploited and being exploitive, of undermining feminist principles and of displaying a desperate need to grab public attention. If she’d been male, most of those might have been laughed off or even celebrated, but the former Disney star instead was attacked in editorials, columns and of course on social media.
At the Grammys, Beyoncé, wearing not really any more than Cyrus had, gyrated suggestively on and against a chair, shook her buttocks at the camera, rubbed herself against a fully dressed man (in this case her husband, Jay Z) and sang about being ‘Drunk In Love’.
Yet apart from the usual suspects like the regularly appalled Daily Mail in the United Kingdom, which featured online objections from concerned parents, there’s been far less controversy. Was there any real difference between these two performances? Does Beyoncé have a special pass to get the love and not the abuse? Or did the blogsphere and media go overboard with Cyrus?
While you ponder that, here are seven Grammy highs and lows for those who went through heaven and hell in that broadcast.


• Lorde
Not because she’s a New Zealander (or is she Australian now?) or won two Grammys – which is admittedly pretty cool. Not even because she’s 17 and way more talented than any should be. But because her performance of Royals was goth and pop, had both attitude and the art of disappearing into a song and required no raunch, faded rock stars or bizarre cross-genre pairing to be noticed.
• Beyonce
Apparently can do everything better than anyone else. Didn’t need more than a chair and a microphone and Mr. Carter showing up to make her look even better.
• Pharrell’s hat
Serious props for that prop. To look that cool while looking that stupid is no mean feat. Deserved a Grammy itself and probably took home Beyoncé’s dress for some serious “horizontal haberdashery”.
• Taylor Swift
Sitting in the front row and not giving a hoot what the cool folk were doing but getting up and dancing because she wanted to dance. Take that Twitterverse narks.
• The Highwaymen
Yeah, Kris Kristofferson can’t really sing anymore, two of the originals are dead and adding Blake Shelton couldn’t make it relevant to anyone under 50. But hey, it was Willie, Kris and Merle Haggard. Respect.
• Same Love
The social message of the massed marriages during Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s performance of blooming marriage equality anthem ‘Same Love’ was powerful and didn’t need extra editorialising to get the point home to middle America, middle Australia, middle Russia even.


•Best rock song, best rock album and best rock performance
A category (best rock song) which had Rolling Stones, a Beatle and Black Sabbath as contenders, another (best rock performance) which was won by the character-less Imagine Dragons and a third (best rock album) which was won by Led Zeppelin, giants who haven’t existed for more than a night or two in more than 30 years suggest Grammy board members didn’t really listen to much actual rock last year.
•Ringo Starr
Photograph was a cute bit of pop 40 years ago. He’s a legend deserving of more praise for his drumming and a reminder that for a while in the ‘70s he outsold McCartney and Lennon. This, however, was a wandering and weak performance.
Trent Reznor’s tweet summed up the wide response to the telecast cutting out before the end of their performance: “Music’s biggest night… to be disrespected. A heartfelt F— YOU guys.”
• Pharrell’s hat
Dumbledore wants his sorting hat back pronto. No, seriously, that hat was ridiculous.
• Taylor Swift
The I-can-headbang-too hair sweeps during her performance were pretty funny though not necessarily intentional.
• Chicago and Robin Thicke
Robin “it’s not about rape” Thicke is annoying at the best of times (how did he escape the opprobrium for the VMA twerking that rained down on Miley Cyrus?) but then Chicago? A band which hasn’t shown signs of life in some three decades? And them without their bland-out but nonetheless hit-making vocalist Peter Cetera too. Weirdest pairing on a night of weird pairings.
• Same Love
Message aside, the stagey cheesiness of the massed marriages and Madonna’s appearance to add her own Open Your Heart during Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s performance felt a bit squiffy.