Four 'Grammy moments' you won't want to miss

3:16 PM, Jan 24, 2014   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: 55th Annual Grammy Awards: A look back
Wanz, left, and Macklemore perform “Thrift Shop” at the "Grammy Nominations Concert Live!" on Dec. 6, 2013, at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles.



(USA TODAY) Distinguished by dazzling pairings and unexpected ensembles, performances at the Grammy Awards traditionally overshadow the trophy counts. Sunday night's telecast (CBS, 8 p.m. ET/tape delay PT) promises a cavalcade of pop, country, rap and R&B superstars, flying solo or in creative combos that have become the show's brand. USA TODAY's Edna Gundersen looks at four "Grammy moments" likely to stand out.

Beyoncé and Jay Z

The power couple could pull off the night's power play with the live debut of latest collaboration Drunk in Love from Beyoncé's current self-titled album or their nominated rap/sung collaboration, Part II (On The Run), or such earlier duets as Crazy in LoveHollywood03 Bonnie & Clyde or Déjà Vu. Jay Z enters the Grammy race with nine nods.

Executive producer Ken Ehrlich, who invited Justin Timberlake to launch his new album on the show last year, likes putting a forward spin on the show. "Our focus is to put on the best performances," he says.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

The rap duo has a showstopper in the works for its production of equality anthemSame Love, inspired by Washington state's referendum to legalize same-sex marriage. They'll be joined by Mary Lambert, the song's co-writer and guest vocalist, as well as New Orleans sensation Trombone Shorty. Expect elaborate choreography by Nappytabs, the duo behind So You Think You Can Dance, and a thematic twist.

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Daft Punk

The French electronica duo of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter last performed on television with Kanye West at the 2008 Grammys. They'll take the stage with Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers and singer/rapper Pharrell Williams, Daft's partners on megahit Get Lucky. Add R&B legend Stevie Wonder to the mix and "you've got a pretty cool number," Ehrlich says. "I didn't really pursue this. Daft Punk doesn't do TV. Around September, I got a call from their manager. They wanted to know if I was interested in having them on the show."

The Highwaymen, repaved

Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson, founding members of The Highwaymen, will reconstitute the outlaw country supergroup, with Blake Shelton and Merle Haggard filling in for the late Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings.

"It's going to be a great segment, so representative of Texas and Oklahoma," Ehrlich says. "Last year, we lost Ray Price and George Jones. I saw Willie Nelson play a few months ago. He's a national treasure."

Kristofferson, battling a failing memory, says, "I have no memory for anything anymore but the songs. Willie and Merle are my heroes. Getting on stage with those guys is an honor."

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized Beyonce's Grammy nominations. She is up for rap/sung collaboration on Jay Z's Part II (On the Run).

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