Las Vegas will host the Grammys for the first time ever Sunday, one year after the coronavirus pandemic forced organizers to shake up the broadcast with a cabaret-style show heavy on performances.
Music’s most prestigious awards ceremony comes with the entertainment world on edge, just a week after a shocking twist at the Oscars that saw Will Smith slap Chris Rock onstage over a bad joke.
The incident is sure to prompt stiffer stage security and script vetting in Sin City, but there’s always a little room at the Grammys for things to get weird.
Here’s a guide to the event, which comedian Trevor Noah will host:
– Olivia Rodrigo sweep? -Two years after Billie Eilish cleaned up the “big four” prizes — Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist — viral pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo has the chance to do it again.
The former Disney channel actress — who posted record-breaking streaming numbers last year during her explosive ascent to pop’s upper echelons — has a total of seven nominations, including in all four of the most prestigious categories.
Rodrigo, 19, is among a coterie of pop stars including Justin Bieber and Doja Cat leading this year’s nomination pack.
The “drivers license” singer is also slated to perform, as are a variety of acts including BTS, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, H.E.R. and nominations frontrunner Jon Batiste.
– Kanye antics -Kanye West, whose legal name is now Ye, released an album both this year and last, but it’s his questionable behavior that has made him music’s chaos agent at-large.
He scored five nominations this year, most for his album “Donda” — and will face off with longtime nemesis Taylor Swift in the best album category, where she has her sole 2022 chance at Grammys gold for “evermore.”
Neither are necessarily favorites to win the coveted prize.
But ever since West’s infamous “I’mma let you finish” stunt at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009 — when he walked onstage and interrupted the then 19-year-old, who was accepting the award for Best Female Video — all the world’s Ye’s stage.
For weeks, the mercurial West has been airing personal attacks on comedian Pete Davidson, who is dating West’s ex-wife Kim Kardashian.
The Recording Academy had reportedly removed West from the performance lineup over his sometimes troubling behavior, but some sources said he could still join the lineup at the last minute.
And in any event, he’s still invited to the ceremony. Even with seven-second broadcast delays and bleeps, if the Oscars taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen.
– Will the Carters show? -When the Grammy hopefuls were announced in November, rap mogul Jay Z became the most nominated artist in the show’s history, with 83.
He was previously tied with legendary producer Quincy Jones, who had 80.
At last year’s ceremony, Jay Z’s wife Beyonce became the show’s most decorated singer in history, with 28 career wins.
So far the rap billionaire from Brooklyn has 23 gramophones to his name.
But he’s never won in a major category, a similar issue to Beyonce’s, who despite holding a Grammy record for most wins has only triumphed once in the “big four” categories.
The Recording Academy faces perennial criticism that it’s too white and too male, and that it relegates Black artists to rap and R&B categories while refusing to reward them with the top prizes.
In 2018, Jay Z was the frontrunner with eight nominations, but didn’t win a single award.
Needless to say, the couple skipped the 2019 ceremony — and took home a single award, for Best Urban Contemporary Album.
Whether Jay and Bey will deign to show up Sunday in Vegas remains an open question.
– Tony and Gaga -The perhaps improbable duo of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga are riding the success of their second duet album “Love For Sale,” which earned six nominations.
It was the 61st and final studio album of Bennett’s career.
In 2014, the now 95-year-old became the oldest person ever to reach number one on the US album sales chart through a different collection of duets with Gaga, who became his friend and touring companion.
The iconic crooner recently revealed he’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, a condition he kept under wraps for years.
Bennett has stopped touring, but it’s not impossible that he will appear Sunday at Gaga’s side.
The 36-year-old pop titan closed last week’s Oscars ceremony alongside Liza Minnelli, another 20th century great Gaga has apparently befriended.
– Presidential hat trick? -In the ever-eclectic Best Spoken Word Album category, which includes poetry, audio books, and storytelling, Barack Obama once again has the leading chance to win what would be his third Grammy.
The former president is up for his autobiography “A Promised Land,” two years after his wife Michelle bested her competition to take home the prize for the audiobook of her memoir “Becoming.”
Obama — who won the award both in 2006 and 2008 — faces competition from Dave Chappelle, Don Cheadle, poet J. Ivy and LeVar Burton, who is set to host the pre-broadcast ceremony.
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