The Recording Academy traditionally refers to its glittering Grammy Awards presentation as “music’s biggest night.” This year they’re going with “quarantine-friendly and partly virtual.” Is there a prize for the best sad trombone?
Hosted by the acerbic South African comedian and host of The Daily Show Trevor Noah, the pandemic-affected primetime portion of Sunday’s event will be an exercise in making do, one that hopefully outdoes the recent Golden Globe Zoom-fest, Jodie Foster pyjamas-and-dog-kissing moment notwithstanding.
The show will be the “first of its kind,” in the words of a Recording Academy statement, and it will also be the first Grammys with new show producer Ben Winston at the helm. With all that uncertainty in mind, here’s what viewers can expect on Sunday.
The unavoidability of Taylor Swift
Nobody puts Baby in a corner, and nobody will ever again steal Taylor Swift’s thunder in the way Kanye West did at the Video Music Awards in 2009. Up for six awards, the singer is a featured performer and a favourite to walk away with significant hardware. Look for Swift to make gushing acceptance speeches filled with faux surprise when she takes home statuettes for Folklore and Cardigan, in the top song and album categories, respectively.
Performers to watch
Judy Garland was famously wild about Harry, and so is CBS, which carries the proceedings. “You don’t want to miss the top of the show,” said Jack Sussman, referring to the singer/Olivia Wilde enthusiast/aspiring actor Harry Styles, the night’s first performer. The network’s executive vice-president in charge of specials, music, and live events told Variety that after Styles’s appearance, “It’s going to be music coming at you heavy and hard like you’ve not seen it before.”
Other announced performers include Megan Thee Stallion, Brandi Carlisle, BTS, Bad Bunny, Black Pumas, Cardi B, Doja Cat, Billie Eilish, Brittany Howard, Dua Lipa, Chris Martin, Maren Morris, Post Malone and Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak (as Silk Sonic). The live performances will take place inside the Los Angeles Convention Center, as well as an outdoor open-air tent. Other spots will be pre-taped.
Canada’s chances at the podium
Inexplicably shut out of any nominations, the Weeknd is already this year’s most-snubbed artist. Dissatisfied with the voting process, the star R&B crooner told the New York Times this week he would boycott the awards from now on. “Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.”
Montreal electronic music producer Kaytranada is up for three awards. And while he’s the frontrunner for dance/electric LP (for Bubba), he’ll likely be relegated to “It’s just an honour to be nominated” platitudes after he loses the new-artist prize to Megan Thee Stallion.
Those Canadian who might wish to prepare acceptance speeches include recording engineer Shawn Everett (who flooded the engineering, non-classical field with three nominations for his work with Beck, Brittany Howard and Devon Gilfillian); Alanis Morissette (Jagged Little Pill – Original Broadway Cast Recording); Ken Jennings (for the audio book Alex Trebek – The Answer Is …); and Lido Pimienta (Miss Colombia, in the Latin rock or alternative class).
This Latin music revolution will not be televised (but it will be streamed)
Colombian-Canadian spitfire Pimienta will perform, but not in primetime and not on TV. She’s part of Awards Premiere Ceremony, streaming internationally at Grammy.com at 3 p.m. Though Latin pop is exploding, artists of that heritage are unrepresented in the major Grammy categories. Superstar Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny will perform in the evening ceremony, however.
Kicking off the afternoon show is a tribute celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Marvin Gaye track Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology), with a strong contingent of Latin performers that include Afro-Peruvian Jazz Orchestra, Camilo, Bebel Gilberto, Lupita Infante, Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez and Gustavo Santaolalla (Bajofondo).
And the award goes to … ?
Expect women to dominate the major categories. One of Dua Lipa, Beyoncé, Megan Thee Stallion and Billie Eilish should win best record. It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Taylor Swift (Folkore) or Dua Lipa (Future Nostalgia) earning best-album honours. Both are up for best song too, as are Eilish, H.E.R. and Beyoncé. As mentioned, Megan Thee Stallion is the horse to bet on to take home the statuette for the year’s best new artist.