Music fans barely had a chance to absorb all the Best of 2013 lists and 2014 prediction posts before having to switch into Grammy mode, thanks to the show’s earlier date this year. But maybe it’s better this way, coming before the Super Bowl, before anything has had a chance to really set the tone for the forthcoming year in pop music. One last appraisal of the year that was, while the breakouts and the memes and the capital-M Moments are still fresh in our minds. (An indirect benefit of this, of course, is that it’s easier to channel the necessary anger over any snubs and nonsensical nominations).
It’s unclear how the Grammys will send off 2013, but a few things are very clear regarding what will go down on January 26 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS: People will be drunk and in love. Lines will be blurred. Dragons will be imagined. Below, find everything you need to know about the 2014 Grammy Awards.
YOUR HOST FOR THE NIGHT: LL Cool J. We’re just gonna go ahead and repurpose the blurb from last year, because apparently Grammy Host is now a Supreme Court-style lifetime appointment. As we said in 2013: “Your host for the night is “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.”
MOST-NOMINATED ARTISTS: Jay Z lords over all with nine nominations. The rap takeover is strong this year, as Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis also nabbed seven nods, as did Justin Timberlake and Pharrell.
THE PERFORMERS: It’s all about collaborations this year — in fact, there are so many that we wonder why they didn’t just go full-on and make that the theme. Thankfully, there’s nothing quite as atrocious as that time the Academy lassoed Jamie Foxx, T-Pain, Doug E. Fresh and Slash together for a performance in 2010, but still, making Kendrick share his stage time with butt-rockers-du-jour Imagine Dragons is a travesty. Also, each Album Of The Year nominee will take the stage, which will make this the ninth straight year the AOTY winner performed on the show. Find the complete list of performers below.
*Beyonce & Jay Z
*Daft Punk, Stevie Wonder, Nile Rodgers & Pharrell
*Kendrick Lamar & Imagine Dragons
*Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
*Ringo Starr (They’re rumored to be performing together, though)
*Pink & Nate Ruess
*Robin Thicke & Chicago
*Sara Bareilles & Carole King
*Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson & Blake Shelton
*Metallica & Lang Lang
*Nine Inch Nails, Queens Of The Stone Age, Dave Grohl & Lindsey Buckingham
*Gary Clark Jr.
THE STORYLINES: The unveiling of New Era Beyonce will be the most anticipated moment of the night, even though she didn’t qualify for any awards at this year’s ceremony (something the divas in attendance are surely grateful for). Her “Drunk In Love” performance with hubby Hov will come almost a year to the day after her takeover of the Super Bowl in New Orleans. And if that jaw-dropping set came when she had nothing to promote, you know she’ll have a killer instinct now that Beyonce is in the wild.
Even without Bey in the mix, there are lots and lots of established names contending for the major awards this year. While it’s largely the big dogs hogging the nominations (really, Jay Z, you had to have two songs up for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration?), the Grammys are slowly but surely broadening their horizons within genres. For instance, dance is now a place where Disclosure gets recognition alongside the usuals like Daft Punk and Calvin Harris.
Several other stellar newcomers wriggled their way into the proceedings, and perhaps none is more deserving of the recognition than Lorde. The teenager from New Zealand managed to take hold of the airwaves on this side of the world, and the Academy rightly honored her with major nominations including Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. (And yet, somehow she was left out of Best New Artist, meaning she’ll probably be there next year because the Grammys, everybody!) Kacey Musgraves, K-Dot and Macklemore likewise have a chance to shake up pop’s oligarchy.
Quickly scanning the roster of performers and nominees once more, it feels like, on the whole, the Grammys got things right this year. And that actually makes for a kind of boring lead-up. Save for the requisite brain-melting snubs, nearly every song you think of when you think “2013″ is included in some form in this year’s competition — from “Get Lucky” to “New Slaves” to “Roar,” from Justin Timberlake to Taylor Swift to Zedd. It’s a vanilla field, but it represents a fairly vanilla year in pop: Kanye, M.I.A. and some daring indie groups like Factory Floor were necessary corrosive agents, but they were ultimately wiped away by the fresh and clean sounds of neo-soul and polished pop.
And, lastly, it wouldn’t be the Grammys without a focus on some particularly stale rock. If the awards show is trying to prolong the genre’s primacy, maybe they should actually invite some young, exciting guitar bands instead of trotting out the usual herd of ax-wielding dinosaurs (Ringo and Macca excepted, of course). Everybody loves Dave Grohl, but do we really need to see him at the Grammys for the millionth time? And I can’t think of a band that is less representative of the rock zeitgeist right now (if there even is a rock zeitgest) than Metallica.
*Will Kanye attend?
*Who on Earth is responsible for Kendrick performing with Imagine Dragons?
*But seriously, if Macklemore & Ryan Lewis beat out Drake, K-Dot and Kanye, would Rap Twitter ever recover?
*If Daft Punk win any awards, will they speak?
*Will Chicago bring out the horns?
*LOL remember Al Walser?
*Don’t you wish the Grammys had an Al Walser-style troll this year? Even the Oscars nominated one!
*How will Miley Cyrus steal everyone’s Grammy publicity?
Get an eyeful of even more pop music coverage, from artist interviews to exclusive performances, on Idolator’s YouTube channel.