Grammys Expected to Overperform

What if you threw an awards show, but didn’t hand out any awards?  You’d get the Grammys!

With roughly 497 categories, it’d be impossible to hand out every category. Sadly that means a lack of love for Spoken Word and Best American Roots Performance nominees. For some reason, producers must have sensed a lack of enthusiasm for these categories, and worried that viewers under 60 would switch over to a Here Comes Honey Boo Boo retrospective on TLC.

The show is scheduled for three and a half hours.  So they could jam at least 35 presentations in there. But they’re more likely to give out 13ish and fill the rest of the time with (hopefully) buzz worthy performances.

Something For Everyone

Remember, the Grammys are primarily a recording academy, not a music academy. Even though it’s pop/rap/country that get all the attention, there is more to Grammys than having a number one hit. But for ratings, they’ll be the ones getting all the love.

But even music is fragmented. And this year there haven’t been a lot of hits that grabbed pop culture by the throat and forced us to come together and be like ‘yeah, this is awesome.’ The lone exception being Baby Shark which was disgracefully overlooked.

In the age of customized playlists and niche friendly internet radio, people don’t have to listen to radio stations that may offer crossover hits to expose people to new music. I like mediterranean pop, and as I write this I’m listening to Beirut Nights radio. It’s safe to say it won’t be exposing me to the latest in American country.

So there’s as good a chance several different names will be called as winners as there is that Cardi B will walk away with an armful of trophies.

Let The Music Play

But the Grammys, despite limited award presentations, still tries to be homogenous. The show has become known for unlikely musical pairings, and this year will carry on the tradition.

Post Malone and Red Hot Chili Peppers will perform. Yolanda Adams, Andra Day, and Fantasia will do a tribute to Aretha. Shallow co-writers Lady Gaga and Mark Ronson will likely perform the song sans Bradley Cooper. Then there’s Shawn Mendes and Miley, plus  a Camilla Cabello, J Balvin, Arturo Sandoval, Young Thug, and Ricky Martin collab.

And while those are interesting, the most talked about artists are the ones who aren’t performing or even attending. Ariana Grande aired her dirty laundry with the Grammys this week and pulled out of performing and showing up. After years of slights and snubs, relevant artists like Drake, Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar all said thanks but no thanks.

More Is More

The Academy has a narrow view tradition of honoring safe artists, with years of top honors going to the (talented) likes of Tony Bennett, U2, Celine Dion, Adele etc. over edgier and more relevant artists like Kendrick or Beyoncé.

To get more genres into the mix in the top four categories (Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best New Artist), the Academy expanded the list of nominees to eight.

The diversity of artists and genres is even more diverse, with Cardi B, Brandi Carlile, Drake, H.E.R., Post Malone, Janelle Monáe, Kacey Musgraves and the Black Panther soundtrack up in the Album category.  Will voters break out and honor the voice of the moment, Cardi B? Or will they play it safe and call Brandi Carlile to the stage?

Only the winner, not the number of nominees, will let us know how committed the Grammys are to staying relevant.

The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation

A Long Island Iced Tea. It has a lot of diverse liquors and mixers that may not seem to go together naturally, but if you drink enough of ’em over time you won’t care.


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