LOS ANGELES – The 66th annual Grammy Awards are on Sunday, airing live from Los Angeles’ Crypto.com Arena on CBS and Paramount+. So, what can viewers expect?
Some new, some old. Executive producers Raj Kapoor, Ben Winston, and Jesse Collins are returning for their fourth year — evolving the show from their first, which required completely reimagining the Grammys for COVID-19. In 2021, they had the idea to turn musicians into each other’s audiences when there couldn’t be one, a concept that has informed every Grammys since.
For example: artists sit at tables near the front of the stage to give the sense that the musicians and the audience as “just having a really lovely evening together,” Winston told The Associated Press. “We’ve gone away from the big, grandiose, massive theaters with rows and rows and rows of people and actually try to make a really beautiful, bespoke concert every year.”
He says there will continue to be no close ups of musicians as the winners are read out — “and then people rewind to see the disappointment in people’s faces,” he says. “We’ve changed that because it becomes a bit too competitive. We’ve really just tried to make it a loving room for the music community.”
Some elements of the stage – like the gramophone in the middle – will remain the same. “I really like the ideal of keeping elements of last year, but then changing key parts of it,” he says – building off of what has succeeded in the past and making appropriate alterations for the new year.
Similarly, comedian Trevor Noah will host for a fourth time. “There’s never a hesitation, never a hiccup. There’s never a stumble,” says Recording Academy CEO and President Harvey Mason jr. of their returning host. “He relates so well to the artists and to the music community in my mind, because he’s a fan and he’s an appreciator and a lover of music.”
But what’s new in 2024, and what should viewers keep an eye out for? Here are five burning questions — and answers.
WOMEN RULE MAJOR CATEGORIES. HOW WILL THAT TRANSLATE TO THE GRAMMY STAGE?
Winston says “best pop solo performance” will likely be the first award of the night — remarkable because every nominee in the category is a woman.
“That’s the same throughout the show, really — it’s dominated by women,” he says, joking that he brought up doing “ladies’ night at the Grammys with only women performers,” which was quickly shot down.
“I’m really excited about the mix of talent we have, and that’s based on the nomination this year, which skew heavily female,” says Kapoor. “That is something we’re really celebrating. It’s almost unprecedented.”
Mason agrees, crediting the inclusion of so many women to the changing demographics at the Recording Academy.
“We have so many great women nominees leading some of the general feeling categories, which to is a direct result of a lot of the changes that we’ve been making at the academy,” he says.
Last year, the organization announced over 2,400 diverse music creators joined their voting bloc — 50% are people of color, 46% are under the age of 40, and 37% are women.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE PERFORMANCES?
Winston says there will be between “12 to 15 performers — it depends on if the memoriam counts as one or three.”
“He likes to put an arc through our show beyond just seeing performances on the stage,” Mason says of Winston. “It feels like teamwork at all times — each artist brings their creative ideas; they have a creative director from their team collaborate with a creative director from our team — so it is this incredible mashup of ideas to produce the final results you see on TV.”
WHAT’S DIFFERENT IN 2024?
Winston says that for some artists, his team has created short films to play before their performances in order to “tell the story of the artist’s year.”
“We’re going to put the spotlight on them and the significance of the moment that the audience are about to witness,” he says, to provide helpful context for a general audience.
There are three new categories at the 2024 Grammy Awards as well, including the first-ever best African music performance award. Burna Boy, who is among the announced performers, is nominated in the category.
Kapoor points out, too, that this is the second year in a row that the Grammys are collaborating with a visual artist for its design: this year is Dave McLeod, a digital artist from the fine art world.
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH AI?
Last year, the Recording Academy announced a series of changes to the Grammy Awards to better reflect an evolving music industry. Of those newly instituted guidelines, protocols involving technological advancements in machine learning sparked headlines: “Only human creators” could win the music industry’s highest honor in a decision aimed at the use of artificial intelligence in popular music.
What has been the public reaction – and how will artists respond? “I haven’t heard much yet – I’m sure we’ll hear more after the show,” says Mason. “And I’m sure how we treat AI next year will be different than how we treat it next year. Right now, the way our awards team functions, there wouldn’t be any music that was not eligible in any of the categories — so voters were able to vote with confidence that the screening has already taken place.”
WHO MIGHT MAKE HISTORY AT THE GRAMMYS?
That’s impossible to predict, but there are certainly a few contenders: if Taylor Swift takes home album of the year, she’d break the record of the artist with the most wins, ever, with four.
If Victoria Monét ’s “Hollywood” wins best traditional R&B performance, her daughter Hazel Monét will become the youngest Grammy winner in history at 2 years old. Karol G could become the first female artist to ever win in the best música urbana album category if she wins for “Mañana Será Bonito.” Jack Antonoff could tie Babyface as the producer with the most consecutive wins in the producer of the year, non-classical category with a third win in 2024.
Kelly Clarkson could break the record for most best pop vocal album wins if she gets her third trophy for her 2023 album “Chemistry.” Kendrick Lamar could extend his record in the best rap performance category if he wins for a seventh time for “The Hillbillies,” his track with his cousin Baby Keem.
There are likely many more examples – we’ll just have to wait and see.
For more Grammys coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/grammy-awards