This was imagined to be the 12 months the Grammy Awards bought again to regular. In 2021, the pandemic delayed the ceremony by six weeks and led organizers to placed on a stripped-down out of doors present with no viewers, which charmed critics with its intimate look but had anemic scores.
This 12 months, after one other delay — this one brought on by the omicron variant — the sixty fourth annual Grammys have decamped for the primary time to Las Vegas and will likely be broadcast by CBS on Sunday evening from the MGM Grand Backyard Enviornment. However a deluge of further issues have adopted. Kanye West was barred from performing due to his unsettling on-line habits. Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters, who have been scheduled to carry out on the ceremony, died whereas on tour.
After which, on the Oscars on Sunday, Will Smith smacked Chris Rock onstage, an incident that grabbed headlines world wide and introduced new scrutiny over how the organizers of main awards reveals ought to deal with star-on-star altercations on stay tv.
Even with these surprises — and after years of controversies on the Recording Academy, the nonprofit group behind the Grammys — producers say they’re prepared for something and have labored to create a recent search for the present. The ceremony will as soon as once more have an enviornment viewers and have full-scale performances by stars like Olivia Rodrigo, Silk Sonic, Billie Eilish, J Balvin, Carrie Underwood, John Legend and Lil Nas X. Different highlights embrace a tribute to Stephen Sondheim and a second of commentary of the conflict in Ukraine. Trevor Noah returns because the host.
Essentially the most intently watched contest is whether or not Rodrigo, the 19-year-old singer and actress whose tune “Drivers License” was a sensation final 12 months, can sweep the 4 prime awards of album, file and tune of the 12 months, and finest new artist. Her competitors ranges from meme grasp Lil Nas X to 95-year-old Tony Bennett, who’s up for “Love for Sale,” a Cole Porter album with Girl Gaga. The highest nominee this 12 months is Jon Batiste of “The Late Present With Stephen Colbert,” who has 11 nods.
Final 12 months Ben Winston, who took over because the Grammys’ producer after a four-decade run by Ken Ehrlich, gained plaudits for brand new touches like in-the-round performances and video segments constructing out the again tales of the nominees for file of the 12 months, which has quietly changed album of the 12 months because the Grammys’ most coveted award.
A few of these manufacturing choices have been requirements of pandemic-era tv. However in an interview, Winston mentioned that even in an enviornment setting, he needed to maintain a way of final 12 months’s intimacy and storytelling. The present Sunday will spotlight behind-the-scenes staff within the revived live performance trade, and nominees from among the dozens of Grammy classes not often seen on tv will likely be showcased on the roof of the MGM Grand. (Of the 86 awards, all however eight or 9 are given out throughout a rapid-fire ceremony earlier that day.)
“I hope that the teachings we realized final 12 months,” Winston mentioned, “of attempting to assemble a TV present that touched on themes and wasn’t only a live performance of 1 tune adopted by one other will keep for this 12 months as nicely.”
Raj Kapoor, the showrunner this 12 months, mentioned that even the place of the stage — it has been lowered by about 3 toes — will foster a more in-depth connection to the viewers. (Kapoor is an government producer of the present, together with Winston and Jesse Collins.) Nonetheless, some COVID measures will likely be evident to viewers. Nominated artists will likely be separated in a bistro-style seating space, and the quantity of people that will settle for awards on the microphone will likely be lowered.
Simply days earlier than the present, uncertainties stay about who will carry out and even which stars would possibly attend. Since Hawkins’ loss of life March 25, producers have raced to place collectively a tribute to the drummer. Two members of Okay-pop group BTS not too long ago examined optimistic for COVID-19, elevating the query of whether or not or how the group would undergo with its scheduled look.
The Recording Academy had no remark about BTS, and representatives of the group didn’t reply to questions on its plans. Foo Fighters, nominated for 3 awards, canceled their scheduled efficiency.
The most important wild card could be West, whose invitation to carry out was revoked after a barrage of troubling on-line habits directed at his former spouse, Kim Kardashian, and at Noah. However West remains to be up for 5 awards, together with album of the 12 months, for “Donda.” A consultant of the Recording Academy mentioned that after the episode on the Oscars, there are “plans in place for a wide range of eventualities.”
For the academy, a easy ceremony is very necessary after years of complaints from artists and trade insiders in regards to the awards course of and the academy’s personal governance. Stars corresponding to West, Drake, the Weeknd and Diddy have criticized the Grammys over its poor file of rewarding Black artists within the prime classes and its opaque voting procedures.
The academy has taken steps to deal with these points, nevertheless it stays to be seen whether or not that will likely be sufficient to quell dissent. Final 12 months, it eradicated its longtime use of nameless screening committees to find out many nominees, which the Weeknd and others had known as unfair. But simply at some point earlier than this 12 months’s slate was introduced in November, the academy’s guidelines have been modified so as to add two spots to the poll within the prime 4 classes, permitting stars like West, Taylor Swift and Lil Nas X to achieve nominations. Days after, Drake withdrew from competitors within the two rap classes wherein he was nominated, although he gave no rationalization.
Harvey Mason Jr., the academy’s CEO, mentioned in an interview that the academy was working to regain confidence amongst its members. “My hope,” he mentioned, “is that we are going to earn the belief of all that have been mistrustful.”
Up to now, the music world appears prepared to provide the academy the good thing about the doubt.
“The difficulty with establishments just like the Grammys is that there’s at all times a way of nostalgia and custom, so change is mostly somewhat slower,” mentioned Ghazi, founding father of the unbiased music firm Empire. “However among the conversations we have now been having have been encouraging.”
Willie Stiggers, often called Prophet, an artist supervisor and co-chair of the Black Music Motion Coalition, mentioned he takes Grammy leaders at their phrase a few dedication to foster range inside the group. “The Recording Academy is a mirrored image of American society,” he mentioned. “It’s going to take greater than a 12 months or two to unpack all that.”
One space wherein the Grammys and the music trade as an entire have proven a cussed lack of progress is within the development of feminine creators. This week, the newest version of an annual examine by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative on the College of Southern California discovered that credit for ladies in pop have primarily remained flat over the previous decade. Final 12 months, simply 23.3% of the credited artists among the many prime 100 songs have been girls, whereas a Grammy-sponsored pledge from 2019 to rent extra feminine producers and engineers has had virtually no impression, the examine discovered.
“Regardless of trade activism and advocacy, there was little change for ladies on the favored charts since 2012,” Stacy L. Smith, one of many examine’s authors, mentioned in an announcement.
A bigger debate within the music trade looms over the worth of the Grammys — and of all awards reveals — in an period of fragmented viewing and declining scores. Final 12 months, the Grammys drew simply 8.8 million viewers, its worst exhibiting ever, and the gross sales advantages that artists and file corporations used to take pleasure in from a outstanding Grammy look have practically vanished.
Based on Will Web page, an economist who research the music trade, the two-week gross sales achieve after Adele gained album of the 12 months in 2012, for “21,” was value $1 million in estimated artist royalties, whereas Swift’s win final 12 months, for “Folklore,” introduced her simply $50,000. “As we speak’s harsh actuality is that successful over the judges doesn’t essentially win over the customers,” Web page mentioned.
For the producers of the TV present, nonetheless, the crucial is to maintain the occasion feeling recent. They usually say they’re as much as it.
“Issues can get stale,” Winston mentioned, “in the event that they keep the identical.”