Five things to watch for at the Grammys


Keen to keep viewers glued to the Grammys, the Recording Academy has asked the music world’s powerhouse performers to anchor yet another awards gala forced to go virtual.

Will Beyonce, seen here in 2017, strike Grammys gold again?

The Grammys gala falls nearly a year to the day that the coronavirus pandemic shuttered clubs and halted touring, dealing a crippling blow to the industry.

Here’s a guide to the event, which comedian Trevor Noah will host:

Women take center stage

Beyonce is the leading nominee with nine—despite not releasing an album in the past year—while Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa both nabbed six nods for records they dropped during quarantine.

Bluesy rocker Brittany Howard—known for her leading vocals with the band Alabama Shakes—jumped into the spotlight on her own with five nominations for her first solo album Jaime.

Rapper Megan Thee Stallion is poised to make a splash, with four nominations including for Best New Artist—a category featuring seven women out of eight nominees.

Mea culpa to Beyonce?

Beyonce is the most nominated woman in Grammy history with 79, and is tied with Paul McCartney for the second most nods ever.

They’re each just one nomination behind top dogs Jay-Z (Beyonce’s husband) and Quincy Jones, who both have 80.

Pandemic performances

Both Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B are scheduled to perform, though it’s unclear if they’ll appear together: the duo’s summer smash “WAP” was a fan favorite, but its graphic content is perhaps too much for network television.

Lipa, rapper Roddy Ricch and Post Malone will grace the stage, as will Latin trap superstar Bad Bunny, along with pop nominees Harry Styles and South Korean boy band sensation BTS.

Oddballs 

A little less than a month after his chaotic presidential bid ended, Kanye West notched a 2021 Grammy nomination — but it had nothing to do with rap.

No, the artist who shook hip-hop with his 2004 album The College Dropout is up for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album, in recognition of his ode to evangelism, “Jesus Is King.”

The spoken word category that regularly features unexpected Grammy contenders — both Michelle and Barack Obama are past winners — this year includes journalists Rachel Maddow and Ronan Farrow, as well as Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea.

Posthumous nominations 

The field features a number of posthumous nominations, including two for the revered American songwriter John Prine, who died of coronavirus complications in April.

Leonard Cohen, who died in 2016, received a Best Folk Album nomination for “Thanks for the Dance,” a collection of raw vocals the Canadian legend’s son finished for him.

The late artist will compete in that category with another rapper who died young: Nipsey Hussle, who won two posthumous awards last year, is nominated for “Deep Reverence,” a collaboration with Big Sean.

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