That’s where we come in. We have surveyed the pop music wilderness, withstanding its harsh winds and gnashing teeth, and we have returned with a map so that you may enjoy its bounty. What we’re saying is, we’ve compiled a handy CliffsNotes guide to this year’s Grammys. Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday’s ceremony.
YOUR HOST FOR THE NIGHT
LL Cool J. Yep, the same dude who hosted last year, so we guess he must’ve done a good job? We can’t really remember, which is sort of the point of being the Grammy host. The only difference for LL this year is that, instead of merely serving as a sentient promotional tool for CBS’s NCIS: Los Angeles, he is also promoting his very own comeback album, Authentic Hip Hop. Funny how that works out.
Six was the magic number this year. With no runaway favorites, a whole host of artists garnered a half dozen nominations: Frank Ocean, fun., Kanye West, Jay-Z, Mumford & Sons and Dan Auerbach (nominated once as a producer and five times as a member of The Black Keys). Miguel and pianist Chick Corea both tallied five nominations.
This year’s roster represents a decent mix of pop’s current trends — resurgent R&B, roots rock — though it’s lacking in the hip-hop and electronic departments, as always. There’s also the usual amount of pop juggernauts, and collaborations both natural and puzzling. It would probably be quicker if we could just list the acts who aren’t performing at the ceremony, so bear with us, this is gonna take a while:
*Tribute to Levon Helm featuring Elton John, Mavis Staples, Zac Brown, Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard and Mumford & Sons
*Miguel and Wiz Khalifa
*Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert
*The Black Keys
*Mumford & Sons
*Ed Sheeran and Elton John
*Alicia Keys and Maroon 5
*Bruno Mars, Sting and Rihanna
The snubs were the storyline leading up to this month, with superstars like Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Christina Aguilera and One Direction overlooked by the Grammy cabal. By the time Sunday night rolls around, though, it’ll be like those stars don’t exist, because there’s simply too much going on that’s worth talking about. The only Justin on our minds will be the one rocking a suit and tie on the Staples Center stage.
Though he’s not up for any awards, JT’s comeback may be the most-anticipated moment of the broadcast. While that’s the biggest one-off, the most compelling narrative is the rising Ocean (#badglobalwarmingjokes). Frank has gone so far, so fast, that it’s hard to believe he was once just “that guy from Odd Future who can sing.” The young crooner has a real shot at leaving this thing with an armful of awards, Adele-style.
Another interesting subplot is the pseudo-return of rock. Thanks to groups like Mumford and fun., dance-pop’s lead on the charts (and in sales) is no longer quite so dramatic. (Still, the rock:rap ratio of this ceremony is totally out of line with the nation’s listening habits). Jack White is a total dreamboat to the Recording Academy, but it’s fun., with their mainstream pop appeal and connection with that ever-important “youth” demographic, that could be rock’s champions. Their bid for the Grammy slam — nominated for Album, Song and Record of the Year, and also Best New Artist — will be a key piece of Sunday’s drama.
And then…there is something known as Al Walser, who is up for Best Dance Recording. At first you may be thinking, “Oh, so it’s some foreign DJ who’s huge with the raver kids these days, who cares?” Well, no. He is huge with nobody. He was literally an unknown when his nomination was announced. In fact, he’s been dubbed the Rebecca Black of EDM (judging by the song for which he is nominated, and its budget video, that label seems accurate). Everyone is certain his nod is the result of a glitch in the Matrix, and everyone is pissed that he’s taking a slot that could’ve been used on someone like, say, David Guetta who’s only the BIGGEST DJ IN ALL OF THE LAND. But everyone’s also sort of rooting for him so we can all groan about how the Grammys bungled yet another big award.
*Will Frank Ocean win the night? Or will rock crash his party and lead to more complaints about the Grammys’ subservience to the six-string?
*What song will JT debut? And will he be joined by a surprise guest?
*Which Police song will Bruno and Sting mash up with “Locked Out Of Heaven”?
*Was PSY invited?
*Will Rihanna be sitting with Chris Brown? (ugh)
*And, seriously, what horrible information does Al Walser have about the Grammy cabal that has enabled him to blackmail them into giving him a nomination?