Adele and Beyoncé are already the talk of the evening, as they’ll go toe to toe in four categories. Both women are also performing, as part of a lineup that runs the music industry gamut, with appearances from pop divas like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry as well as Chance the Rapper, Metallica, Daft Punk, and many more.
How to watch:
When: Sunday, February 12, at 8 pm Eastern/5 pm Pacific (with red carpet preshow coverage starting at 7:30 pm Eastern/4:30 pm Pacific)
Where: The Staples Center, Los Angeles
Host: James Corden
Adele and Beyoncé are the night’s prizefighting headliners, but Rihanna could make things especially interesting
The two pop goddesses are up against each other in four of the evening’s biggest awards: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance. This is a case where past wins aren’t an indicator of future success. Beyoncé has 20 wins over her career and nine nominations this year for Lemonade, the most of any artist. But while Lemonade was a cultural game changer, Adele’s 25 has sold 8 million copies since its release in late 2015 — a staggering number in today’s age of music streaming — handily besting Lemonade’s 1.5 million copies sold in 2016.
If Beyoncé wins eight of her nine nominations, she’ll have won more awards in a single night than any artist in history. But there’s a third contender in the mix: Rihanna is nominated in eight categories, and could easily disrupt the Adele–Beyoncé battle.
Meanwhile, Best New Artist nominee the Chainsmokers are a frontrunner in that category with their single “Closer,” which has earned more than a billion views on YouTube and was also No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list for 10 straight weeks, longer than any other song of 2016. The popularity of “Closer” may make the Chainsmokers the likely winner over fellow nominee Chance the Rapper, since album sales and chart position are clear indicators of a win.
The Grammys are so divided by subgenres that it’s difficult to make predictions further down the list, but the Best Rap Album category is notably crowded, with Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo going up against Drake’s Views, the best-selling album of the year, and Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book.
A muddled performance lineup
For many people, the spectacle that usually accompanies the Grammys’ live performances is the real reason to tune in for the ceremony. Only a handful of the awards will actually be presented during the live telecast (the majority are handed out during a preshow ceremony earlier in the afternoon). The rest of the live show is just one big concert with the potential for the thrill of a surprise hit, and the drama of an unexpected dud.
In addition to solo performances from Beyoncé and Adele, we’ll hear from Album of the Year nominee Sturgill Simpson, as well as Katy Perry. Perry will be performing her new single “Chained to the Rhythm,” featuring Skip Marley, Bob Marley’s grandson.
Each of the Best New Artist nominees is scheduled to perform, except for the Chainsmokers. We’ll hear solo performances from Chance the Rapper and Kelsea Ballerini. Danish band Lukas Graham, up for Song of the Year for their breakout hit “7 Years,” will also perform.
A considerable chunk of the night will be devoted to mourning, so have your tissues nearby. Bruno Mars will reportedly join the Time as part of a planned tribute to Prince, and George Michael will get an individual tribute as well. John Legend and The Color Purple’s breakout star Cynthia Erivo will be performing together during the In Memoriam segment.
The rest of the evening is basically a collision course of musical genres, in service of the Grammys’ love of pairing clashing musical styles in quirky ensembles. Hence, Metallica and Lady Gaga will be performing a duet. Demi Lovato, Andra Day, and Tori Kelly will all join country music group Little Big Town to sing a tribute to the Bee Gees and the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Fever. The Weeknd will do a number with Daft Punk. Country newcomer Maren Morris will pair up, inexplicably, with Alicia Keys.
In more traditional matchups, country juggernauts Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban will duet, and rapper Anderson Paak will perform with A Tribe Called Quest. Finally, acclaimed blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr. will take the stage with 77-year-old soul icon William Bell. This Is Where I Live, Bell’s first album in 10 years, was critically acclaimed, and garnered him two nominations and a trip to the Grammy stage.
Grammy controversy is already astir
As mentioned above, the 2017 Grammys will feature solo performances from three of the five Album of the Year nominees — Beyoncé, Adele, and Sturgill Simpson. That category’s other two nominees, Drake and Justin Bieber, are reportedly skipping the ceremony because they feel the awards are irrelevant and non-representative.
They’re allegedly being joined in this protest by Kanye West, who is apparently protesting the lack of nominations for the brilliant Frank Ocean. But Kanye’s protest is perhaps a little misguided: Ocean was already so over the Grammys that he didn’t even submit his critically acclaimed album Blonde for consideration.
Are the Grammys overrated? Bloated, definitely — but they’ve still got enough star power to make tuning in worthwhile.