LOS ANGELES — The organizers of the Grammy Awards name it music’s greatest night time.
The present’s three and a half hours of community tv time actually represents the music trade’s highest-profile media actual property. This yr the highest awards will really feel a little bit greater as effectively, with the slate of nominees prolonged to eight from 5.
However because the 61st annual ceremony arrives, the Grammys are struggling greater than ever to stay related in a quickly evolving pop scene, and to fulfill calls for for extra equitable gender illustration. Final yr only one girl accepted a solo award in the course of the broadcast, and public uproar after a comment backstage by the pinnacle of the Recording Academy that ladies in music ought to “step up” to advance their careers led to the institution of a process power inspecting how the establishment works.
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To nobody’s shock, ladies are effectively represented among the many nominees this yr. Woman Gaga, Cardi B, Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves will all compete in crucial classes, dealing with artists together with Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Put up Malone and Infantile Gambino. And the performers embrace music greats like Dolly Parton and Diana Ross and rising stars like Camila Cabello, Dua Lipa and H.E.R.
But it surely wouldn’t be the Grammys with out at the least one dark-horse nominee. That spot belongs to Brandi Carlile, a critically revered singer-songwriter in an Americana-meets-alt-country idiom whose album “By the Method, I Forgive You,” whereas reaching No. 5 on Billboard’s chart, had far much less impression on the tradition than, say, Infantile Gambino’s “This Is America,” or just about any monitor on Drake’s blockbuster album “Scorpion.”
Will ladies make an enormous displaying among the many winners? Will Lamar lastly win album of the yr, after being shut out thrice? (And in that case, will he present up?) Will Carlile be this yr’s Herbie Hancock? Listed below are a few of the matters we will likely be watching.
Will the Grammys resolve their hip-hop downside?
The academy, the group behind the Grammys, is aware of that will probably be scrutinized for a way the present rewards ladies, and so it has already taken steps to diversify its ranks.
However the voters can have their very own agendas, and the factionalism of the trade — Nashville versus the coasts; hip-hop versus rock’s previous guard — can have shocking results on the ultimate tallies. If the large winners grow to be males, will or not it’s seen as a failure, or only a downside that wants extra time to be solved?
The Grammys’ spotty recognition of hip-hop stays a serious concern, one which has strained its relations with the very artists the group wants to attract in youthful viewers and stay credible. Stars like Jay-Z, Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar have racked up dozens of Grammys between them, however none within the high classes, and Drake has brazenly mocked the awards for misclassifying rap-free songs of his as rap. One consequence: many stars of hip-hop and R&B merely skip the present.
“The very fact of the matter is, we proceed to have an issue within the hip-hop world,” mentioned Ken Ehrlich, the longtime producer of the Grammys telecast.
This yr, Drake and Lamar — maybe the 2 most significant younger stars in hip-hop — face off in album, report and music of the yr. A win for one among them will likely be seen as a win for hip-hop. But when neither wins, it is going to simply additional erode the connection between the Grammys and the hip-hop world.
Performers onstage, however loads of them off
Solely about 10 awards will likely be given out in the course of the present. (The others, greater than 70, are awarded in a bare-bones, nontelevised ceremony in the course of the afternoon.) The remainder of the time is taken up by performances — almost 20 of them.
Among the many introduced highlights are an look by Dolly Parton, with a tribute to her by Katy Perry, Morris and Musgraves; an Aretha Franklin tribute with Andra Day, Fantasia and the gospel star Yolanda Adams; a gap quantity with Camila Cabello, that includes Ricky Martin, J Balvin, Arturo Sandoval and Younger Thug; Put up Malone with the Crimson Sizzling Chili Peppers; and a 75th-birthday look by Diana Ross. Cardi B, Woman Gaga, Shawn Mendes, Travis Scott and Janelle Monáe may even seem.
[Right here’s what to search for on the Grammys pink carpet.]
However the present could also be simply as outlined by who doesn’t seem. Drake, Lamar and Infantile Gambino had been invited to carry out however declined; it was unclear whether or not they would present up in any respect. Ariana Grande, in a uncommon public rebuke of the Grammys’ producers, mentioned she refused to carry out as a result of her “creativity & self expression was stifled” by them.
Taylor Swift is in London capturing “Cats.” Bradley Cooper can be there, for the Baftas, the British movie awards. Different stars, like Justin Timberlake and Ed Sheeran, had been as soon as keen performers however haven’t come since failing to be nominated for high awards; Frank Ocean disavowed the method as out-of-date and irrelevant.
Alicia Keys steps into the internet hosting highlight
One star who will definitely be there, nonetheless, is Alicia Keys, this yr’s host. A 15-time Grammy winner, she can be an outspoken advocate for ladies in music; final yr, she helped discovered a corporation, She Is the Music, that’s working to advertise feminine producers and engineers — behind-the-scenes studio jobs which have lengthy been overwhelmingly held by males.
On the Grammys, the job of host has usually been a small one. The earlier host, James Corden, took the function anticipating to be on digicam for under about 15 minutes. However Ms. Keys’s involvement carries symbolic weight, and given her pursuits, some campaigning on her half wouldn’t be shocking.
“Celebrating so many wonderful nominees, significantly ladies nominees,” she instructed The Related Press, “is so extremely magnificent and so many are my associates.”
[Right here’s the full checklist of Grammys winners.]