A primer for the 58th annual ceremony
Between Lady Gaga owning the National Anthem and Beyoncé stealing the halftime show, you’d be forgiven for thinking Music’s Biggest Night already happened at the Super Bowl. But the 58th annual Grammy Awards will try and show that it is most deserving of the slogan it trademarked. Here’s what you need to know:
When is it happening? The Grammys will air on CBS on Monday, Feb. 15, at 8 p.m. EST, 7 p.m. CST and 5 p.m. PST. That’s right, West Coasters—no more waiting three hours to see what your friends on the other side of the country already tweeted about. The Grammys website is also live-streaming red carpet arrivals and behind-the-scenes footage throughout the night if you’re unable to get yourself to a TV in time.
Who’s performing? Pretty much all the top divas: Taylor Swift will open the show with a kick-off performance. Adele is making her return to the Grammys stage after four years away. Rihanna will presumably give the live debut of a song from her new album, Anti. Lady Gaga will follow up her National Anthem performance at this month’s Super Bowl with a tribute to the late David Bowie. Technically, Gwen Stefani isn’t performing during the show, but she is filming a live music video—whatever that means—during a four-minute Target commercial set to air during the broadcast.
Pop’s leading men are also showing up in full force: the Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar and Justin Bieber—joined by Diplo and Skrillex—are slated to perform as well. And don’t forget the founding fathers: yup, the cast of Hamilton will perform, which should ease the pain of trying to get tickets for the hit Broadway musical.
Any weird collaborations? You mean like the time Jessie “one of the greatest singers in America” J shared the stage with Tom Jones? Or when Annie Lennox teamed up with “Take Me to Church” singer and man bun icon Hozier? Yeah, the Grammys have something special planned for you this year too: Demi Lovato, Meghan Trainor, John Legend and Luke Bryan are performing a Lionel Richie tribute. Hello, this is not what you were looking for, but it’s happening anyway.
Odds that Beyoncé will make a surprise appearance and hijack the whole show? Pretty low—she already had a big Grammys moment last year when she performed the gospel song “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” before Common and John Legend performed their song “Glory” from the movie Selma. But then again, Beyoncé’s stylist said that “Formation” was just the first taste of an album, and you never know when Queen Bey might strike. Why not the night when the country’s most passionate music fans are gathered around a TV?
Who’s nominated? Kendrick Lamar leads the pack with 11 nominations total, while Taylor Swift and the Weeknd trail behind him with seven nominations each. Considering that both Swift and the Weeknd worked with songwriter-producer Max Martin on their latest albums, it’s no surprise that the Swedish hitmaker—last year’s non-classical Producer of the Year—was nominated six times. Drake, tied with several engineers and mixers, has five nominations.
What?! No Adele? Don’t worry, she’ll probably clean up in 2017. Unlike the Oscars, whose eligibility period spans the previous calendar year, this year’s Grammys are only recognizing music released between Oct. 1, 2014, and Sept. 30, 2015.
Any category I should pay particular attention to? Album of the Year is always the night’s biggest award, but this year the stakes are high for the Recording Academy’s hip-hop credibility: Kendrick Lamar’s undeniably of-the-moment To Pimp a Butterfly is nominated, and if he wins, it’ll be seen by many as an act of redemption following Lamar’s loss to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis in the Best Rap Album category in 2014. (It’s not just #OscarsSoWhite—the top Grammys categories tend to favor white, male artists too.)
Lamar faces tough competition in the form of Taylor Swift’s juggernaut 1989—it’s hard to deny the massive year she’s had, especially when 1989 is as good as it is. Of course, there’s always a chance pop- and hip hop-mind Grammy voters will cancel each other out, and a less-hyped-but-still-great album like Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color will emerge the victor. Remember when Beck beat out Beyoncé, Sam Smith, Pharrell Williams and Ed Sheeran last year? Even Beck himself was surprised, welcoming Kanye’s stage-crashing.