Nearly 50 years after the Beatles first arrived in America on Feb. 7, 1964, kick-starting a cultural and musical revolution still felt to this day, the two surviving members of the legendary group -- Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr -- created another dose of Beatlemania at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night.

Although there was no shortage of subplots during Sunday's show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles -- including 33 gay and straight couples getting wed during a performance by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis of "Same Love" -- the main storyline was Paul and Ringo.

It's only fitting that the 50th anniversary celebration of the Beatles coming to America would be a TV event. After all, it was the Fab Four's initial performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on Feb. 9, 1964, that truly put the "mania" in Beatlemania. The milestone performance will be celebrated at a CBS special Feb. 9. The Beatles also received the Grammy's 2014 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Fab Two's appearance during the telecast -- which included a one-song performance together as well as McCartney picking up the award for best rock song ("Cut Me Some Slack") -- overshadowed a night that saw Daft Punk pull off a shocking upset, as its "Random Access Memories" won for album of the year, beating out Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, among others. The electronic music duo's ubiquitous hit "Get Lucky" also scored record of the year. The other two general-field Grammys were given to Lorde, whose "Royals" won for song of the year, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who were named best new artist.


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Of course, the awards are only part -- some would say an increasingly diminishing part -- of the Grammy experience. Only a small percentage of the awards are given out during the actual telecast, with the majority of the screen time devoted to the always intriguing, sometimes befuddling, all-star collaborations.

Only one award was given out during the first 25 minutes of the show, with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis topping James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, Kacey Musgraves and Ed Sheeran in the highly competitive best new artist race. Yet, organizers seemed reluctant to devote much screen time even for the general-field categories. Macklemore only got a few moments for an acceptance speech, before the dreaded "exit music" signaled that it was time for the Seattle rapper to clear the stage.

Then it was on to more performances. Lorde, who won four trophies overall, was an early highlight. The 17-year-old New Zealand star, who inexplicably wasn't nominated for best new artist, delivered a mesmerizing version of her hit "Royals" that perfectly explained why her two shows in March at the Fox Theater in Oakland sold out instantly.

Lorde was quickly followed by Katy Perry, who failed to match the younger star's performance. Perry probably should have performed the Grammy-nominated "Roar," but opted instead for the far less enjoyable "Dark Horse" in a production that was the musical equivalent of a Dungeons & Dragons game better suited for Stevie Nicks and Sarah Brightman.

On the other hand, Taylor Swift delivered arguably the best Grammy moment of her career. Known better for big, flashy pop spectacles at the Grammys, Swift scored with a subtle -- yet no less powerful -- performance of "All Too Well" seated at a piano, captivating viewers in the same fashion that Alicia Keys routinely does onstage.

Most of the all-star collaborations worked well -- even the seemingly absurd ones. That was especially so for Bay Area heavy-hitters Metallica, who soared onstage with classical pianist Lang Lang.

Then there was the big Macklemore & Ryan Lewis production of the same-sex anthem "Same Love." It was an event for the ages, really, as 33 couples were united in a ceremony conducted by Queen Latifah -- with millions of TV viewers acting as witnesses and Madonna serving as the guest of honor.

Still, it was the Fab Two's night, even though viewers probably didn't get as much Beatles as they would have probably liked. Starr performed one solo song, "Photograph," then joined McCartney for "Queenie Eye." It's hard to believe organizers couldn't have fit, say, a "Hey Jude" somewhere in during the three-hour-plus show.

Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.