Best & Worst Performances of the 2014 Grammys, From Lorde to Macklemore

It's well known that the Grammys aren't exactly the most exciting awards show, but the 2014 Grammys Awards ceremony was even more boring than most — including, and especially, the performances. Many of music's biggest stars kept it surprisingly low-key when they took the stage, and while the simplicity was nice at times, it was also a bit disappointing; there's only so many times one can write "he/she passionately played the piano" before it gets repetitive.

Still, there were more than a few performers who made the night worth watching, and they're not necessarily the ones you expect. From worst to best, here is our ranking of all the performances at the 2014 Grammy Awards.

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20Katy Perry

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Um, what was this? Perry had said in a red carpet interview that she was going for a “witch theme” for her performance of “Dark Horse,” and while she definitely lived up to the promise, we can’t say it was a good idea. Surrounded by crystal balls, Halloween-styled shirts, and a mechanical horse, Perry’s voice got lost in the chaos.


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Choosing Metallica as the artist to perform a tribute to Lou Reed was an interesting choice, to say the least. Their rendition of “One” may have been fine for the band, but in terms of honoring the late, great Lou Reed, it was a big, confusing mess.

18Robin Thicke and Chicago

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The award for weirdest combination of singers goes to… Robin Thicke and Chicago, who teamed up to perform a medley of songs together. Despite having very, very different demographics, the stars came together to sing at the Grammys, and for awhile, it was all perfectly good; Thicke’s voice worked well with Chicago’s style of music. When they switched to “Blurred Lines,” though, it all went downhill — and you can blame it on the creepy,”twerked-upon” Thicke.

17Ringo Starr

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It was a bold move for the former Beatle to perform solo, considering that he could’ve chosen to have his better-known bandmate Paul McCartney join him on-stage, and it’s not one we would’ve recommended. Alone, Starr’s performance was uninspiring and boring.


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The first performance of the evening was the most anticipated, and yet compared to some of the others, it was kind of disappointing. Singing “Drunk in Love” under a cloud of fog, Beyonce seemed to have half the energy she usually does; even the duet part of the song with Jay Z seemed forced and unenthused. Still, Beyonce is Beyonce, and even her worst performances are a hundred times better than most people’s best.

15Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl and Lindsey Buckingham

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Loud and lights-heavy, this performance was a strange and unwelcome way to end the show. Couldn’t they have just let Macklemore and his posse of newlyweds finish the night? It would’ve been a lot more enjoyable.

14Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons

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If a performance’s merit could be judged solely on the set, then Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons’ version of “Radioactive” would be first on this left. With great lighting and strobe-like slow-mo (albeit a move by producers to catch the song’s curses), the performance looked great, but the actual song left much to be desired. Still, it’s not the singers’ fault; “Radioactive” is just not that good a tune.

13Kacey Musgraves

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Poor Kacey Musgraves. If she had performed at any other time in the show, her sweet, quiet set would’ve been much better received, but because she followed the high-octave Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar, Musgraves’ rendition of “Follow Your Arrow” was underwhelming.

12Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard and Blake Shelton

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The supergroup’s performance was pretty and soothing, but that low-key sound was better suited for a nighttime lullaby, not a performance at the Grammys. Still, the audience members looked pleased; many celebrities were spotted dancing along and mouthing lyrics.

11Miranda Lambert and Billie Joe Armstrong

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Lambert and Armstrong’s duet of the Everly Brothers’ “When Will I Be Loved” was pretty but forgettable. It was a sweet tribute to Phil Everly, but a little more emotion would’ve been nice.

10Daft Punk, Pharrell, and Stevie Wonder

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This performance led to so many questions, none of which the artists probably anticipated: are Daft Punk’s heads sweaty under those masks? Why did Pharrell change his hat again? Does he even know all the words to “Get Lucky?” Sure, the performance was decent, but it was overshadowed by all these burning Q’s.

9Hunter Hayes

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The country star’s performance of “Invisible” started out simple, with Hayes, clad in all black, on piano. Yet as soon as the chorus hit, the rendition became much more energetic, with Hayes leaving the bench to walk around the stage and shake his hands angrily at fans. It was a good, passionate performance, but unfortunately for Hayes, we were more interested in the quotes from people like John Lennon and Lady Gaga that covered the back wall than the song.

8Pink and Nate Ruess

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It wasn’t that Pink’s performance was bad — far from it. Her rendition of “Just Give Me a Reason” was gorgeous and impressive (except for featured singer Nate Ruess of Fun. being off-key), with the singer doing those crazy trapeze moves she always seems to be doing. But that’s exactly the problem; we’ve seen it all before. As cool as it is, it’s time for Pink to mix up her act and perform in way we haven’t come to expect.

7Keith Urban and Gary Clark Jr.

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Urban and Clark Jr.’s version of “Cop Car” wasn’t anything extraordinary, but it was a solid rendition of a pretty great song. And, um, Urban’s deep V and new haircut definitely had nothing to do with this ranking.

6Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr

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Performing his new song “Queenie Eye,” McCartney, along with former bandmate Ringo Starr, sounded great, but knowing that he could’ve been singing a Beatles song instead lessened the effect. Lyrics like “O-U-T spells out” just don’t pack the same punch as “yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away,” you know?

5Taylor Swift

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Simple and emotional, Swift’s performance of “All Too Well” was standard for the star, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t great. The singer put every ounce of energy into the song, making it feel like she was breaking up with every single one of us. And boy, did it hurt.


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The 17-year-old’s performance of “Royals” was gorgeous, haunting, and different than anything she’s done before. Lorde took a song we’ve all heard a thousand times before and made it seem new, an impressive feat for any artist, let alone one her age.

3Macklemore and Madonna

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Where to even begin? There’s Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and featured singer Mary Lambert’s great-as-always rendition of “Same Love,” the appearance of up-and-coming singer Madonna, and, oh yeah, the marrying of THIRTY-THREE COUPLES on live TV by Madge and Queen Latifiah. Crazy? Yeah? Awesome? You bet.

2Sara Bareilles and Carole King

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In one of the best duets of the night, Album of the Year nominee Sara Bareilles joined the legendary Carole King to sing a mash-up of the former’s “Brave” and the latter’s “Beautiful.” Out of the many piano-based performances of the night, Bareilles and King’s stood out for all the right reasons.

1John Legend

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Legend’s beautiful, simple rendition of “All of Me” was the highlight of the night, and apparently, we’re not the only ones who think so; many Grammy viewers at home seemed to have had, um, feelings, about Legend’s presence on-stage. It was a gorgeous version of a gorgeous song, and it reminded viewers of Legend’s unparalleled vocal talent.