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01.27.14

Beyonce Gave the Best Grammy Awards Performance (And 8 More That Were Pretty Good, Too)

From Beyoncé’s ultra-sexy live debut of ‘Drunk in Love’ to P!nk’s high-flying circus act to Macklemore and Madonna’s musical mass wedding, the best performances at this year’s Grammy Awards.

We did it. We weathered all 400 hours of the Grammy Awards. Seriously … it might be a new season now. Up is down. Down is up. Macklemore is a Best Rap Album Grammy winner. Nothing about the world is the same, especially now that we’ve all witnessed the sex-glory of Beyoncé’s chairdance performance of “Drunk in Love.”

Dozens of performers hit the Grammy stage Sunday night, from Taylor Swift to Ringo Starr to Kendrick Lamar. So many performers. So, so many. There were so many performances that we kept forgetting there were even awards to hand out. But there were awards, and many of them went to Lorde. I guess Sunday really is the Lorde’s day! (Heh.)

Some performances were good. (Beyoncé, brought to you by God.) Some were bad. (Robin Thicke and Chicago: How? Why? Where’s Miley Cyrus?) Some were downright weird. (Even Katy Perry felt silly during her “Dark Horse” performance, right?) Here are the best of the best.

1. Beyoncé

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The Grammys begin. The screen fades from black. A person is sitting with her back to the audience on a chair, and OH MY GOD IT’S BEYONCÉ. It’s Beyoncé! Beyoncé!!! Be still my no-longer beating heart it’s Beyoncé! Queen B opened the show (also: shut down the show, was the show) with her first televised performance of “Drunk in Love.” Not to exaggerate, but it was the sexiest thing that has ever been on television. Queen B was dripping with sex. Literally, though—she was dripping. (Her hair was wet!)

She snarled and growled her way through every lyric with carnal passion, unveiled a hip-shaking dance move that makes twerking look like the hokey pokey, and grinded on her husband so un-self-consciously she turned the millions watching at home into unwitting Peeping Toms. And then she giggled. It was the hottest giggle. The sexiest giggle. Yes, on top of everything else, Beyoncé is even the best at giggling. As Lena Dunham tweeted, “When Beyoncé giggles un-self-consciously in front of the whole music industry it’s pretty clear she’s surpassed the earthly plane.” Beyoncé is a sex alien. Duh.

2. P!nk

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I wasn’t weeping uncontrollably like in 2010 when P!nk performed her gorgeous rendition of “Glitter in the Air” while spinning from the rafters (seriously, mass puppy execution while Sophie’s Choice plays in the background levels of sobs). But dear god is P!nk an amazing performer. She belted “Try” while flipping on a scarf that suspended her upside down by just her ankle over Ozzy Osbourne. Girl has courage! And then she belted the second half of the song while doing a full-on contemporary dance. And, like, belted. For real. Talk about breath control. How much of a schmuck do you think Nate Ruess felt like when he just skipped onto stage like a normal human to sing “Just Give Me a Reason” after P!nk had done all of that?

3. Lorde

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Lorde is so freaking weird and we all need to love it. She’s like Adele meets Shirley Bassey meets Bjork. Her performance of “Royals” was stripped down to its bare bones: a ridiculously irresistible hook and vocals that manage to be both guttural and ethereal at the same time. For an absurd reason she was snubbed in the Best New Artist category, which made the fact that she performed right after Macklemore won that award (LOL) and totally nailed her performance all the more satisfying. Plus, she’s only 17, which doesn’t need to be said because it’s surprising that a teen can be so talented. It needs to be stressed because she’s so talented and is more interested in embracing her Wednesday Adams weirdness than becoming the next sexed up Selena Gomez. Those claw rings on her fingers were pretty fantastic, too. Lorde of the rings! (Heh.)

4. Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons

Remember when Jay Z did that album with Linkin Park and it was really embarrassing for everyone involved…but still secretly we all kind of loved it? Behold: Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons.

5. Sara Bareilles and Carole King

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Wasn’t this just delightful? (YES, IT WAS.) Why was this not eight hours longer?

6. John Legend

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Why was John Legend performing at the Grammys this year? Like most things Grammy-related, it is an unanswerable question. But he was there. He’s always there. John Legend lives at the Grammy Awards. And this year he sang a song! And it was pretty! Just so so pretty. Congrats on your pretty song, John Legend! See you next year!

7. Taylor Swift

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Taylor Swift sat down and sang at a piano just minutes after John Legend sat down and sang at the piano, which—c’mon, we’ve all heard our beloved T. Swift sing—may not have been the smartest thing to do. (Give the girl credit where it’s due, though: she’s gotten rid of that “is a cat dying somewhere?” quality in her voice. She sounded quite good!) The performance really crescendoed when the band kicked in and Taylor started tossing her hair around all Beyoncé-like. And did we know that Taylor Swift could play the piano? Congrats on your pretty piano playing, Taylor Swift! (Watch until the very end where she stares down the audience until they give her a standing ovation. Respect.)

8. Daft Punk and Stevie Wonder

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Stevie Wonder performing “Get Lucky” with Daft Punk? Some things just make sense.

9. Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, Queen Latfiah, and Madonna

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So many think pieces are going to be written about this performance. What it means. Whether it was profound. Whether it should be. But at the end of the day this was a wedding. A freaking huge wedding. And damn it if I can’t help but cry at weddings.