LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Step aside winners. The Grammy Awards have long belonged to performers and unexpected moments - and Sunday's show was no different with Kanye West rushing the stage, Pharrell Williams' orchestral bash and a poignant plea to end domestic violence.
- Kanye, Again
West, in perhaps a tongue-in-cheek gag on his infamous outburst rushing the stage in protest at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, approached album of the year winner Beck on stage before flashing a quick grin, waving his hand and retreating.
"That's what's great about live television," said Neil Portnow, the president of the Recording Academy.
"Whatever happens is part of the culture of the people in the room," he added.
- Fifty Shades of Madonna
In the night when the music industry crowned British soul singer Sam Smith with a leading four Grammys, including song and record of the year, viewers at home were treated early on to Madonna's burlesque homage to bullfighting.
Pop music's 56-year-old grand dame of scandalizing spectacle, performed her new song "Living for Love" in red and black lingerie with 20 dancers wearing bulls' horns and rhinestone-covered faces twirling the singer about. She was later joined by a choir of more than two dozen singers.
- Dancing #SirPaul
Paul McCartney - who later performed "FourFiveSeconds" with West and Rihanna - gave the audience a light moment on a mostly somber night by dancing alone in the audience to ELO's Jeff Lynne playing the 1975 hit "Evil Woman."
With the camera up close, the former Beatle stopped, looked around and sat down with a sheepish smile, drawing laughter and sending "Sir Paul" trending on Twitter.
- It's on us
The show took a serious turn half-way through with President Barack Obama delivering a taped address urging the audience and TV viewers to help stop domestic violence, through the ItsOnUs.org campaign.
Then Brooke Axtell, a survivor of domestic abuse, took the stage urging victims of abuse to seek help and telling her own story about how her ex-boyfriend had threatened to kill her. Katy Perry finished the segment with the inspirational anthem "By the Grace of God."
- Civil Rights
Williams, dressed as a hotel bellboy in shorts, found a way to recast his uptempo international smash "Happy" as a soaring orchestral song with Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang, film composer Hans Zimmer on guitar and a choir of 20.
But the singer-producer's allusions to the protest chant "hands up, don't shoot" and hooded sweatshirts about the killings of unarmed black teens cast the shadow of civil rights, the predominant theme at the show's close.
Prince introduced the album of the year award saying "black lives matter."
The evening ended with Beyonce singing the Civil Rights-era spiritual, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," and John Legend and rapper Common sang their Oscar-nominated song "Glory" from the soundtrack to the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic "Selma."
(Editing by Mary Milliken)