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2022 Grammys: How to follow the craziest Oscars ever?

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As stagehands wheeled an unlimited duplicate of what seemed to be Lil Nas X’s head into place, the black-and-white faces of dozens of pop stars seemed on from cardboard placards organized, two to a bistro desk, on the ground of the MGM Grand Backyard Enviornment right here.

With Billie Eilish simply an outstretched arm from Woman Gaga and Carrie Underwood inside murmuring distance of Jon Batiste, the comfy setup for Sunday night time’s long-delayed sixty fourth Grammy Awards guarantees loads of the movie star hobnobbing lacking from final yr’s masked-and-distanced rendition of music’s most vital awards ceremony.

“This present is about group, about seeing people who we love and watching them be celebrated amongst their friends,” stated Jesse Collins, one of many Grammys’ government producers, throughout a tech rehearsal this week.

However simply days after Will Smith smacked Chris Rock onstage on the Oscars, setting off international chatter concerning the dangers of reside tv, it’s not onerous to see the Grammys’ up-close-and-personal vibe as a possible legal responsibility — if additionally, maybe, as a draw for viewers desperate to witness another wild and unpredictable occasion.

“It’s true that one of many issues folks love about reside TV is that you simply don’t know what’s going to occur,” stated one other of the present’s government producers, Ben Winston. “You don’t know who’s going to win an award. You don’t know who’s going to win the Tremendous Bowl. And also you don’t know what’s going to occur when a load of persons are in a room collectively.”

Not one of the Grammys’ organizers would characterize The Slap, because it’s already recognized, as a superb factor for his or her present.

“I’d hate to be the beneficiary of one thing like that,” stated Jack Sussman, who oversees reside occasions for CBS, which is able to broadcast the Grammys. Watching the Oscars on ABC final weekend, Sussman stated, “I used to be simply so glad I wasn’t within the [production] truck when it occurred.”

Added Harvey Mason Jr., chief government of the Recording Academy, which presents the Grammys: “Nothing was nice about what occurred.”

But by way of attracting an viewers, the Grammys can inarguably use any assist they’ll get. Final yr’s telecast, the primary underneath Winston’s management after 4 many years with Ken Ehrlich on the helm, won warm reviews however hit a historic low in Nielsen rankings, with a mere 8.8 million viewers — down 53% from 2020.

And although that’s consistent with a slide throughout all awards reveals — except for this yr’s Oscars, whose rankings have been up greater than 50% from 2021’s lowest-ever figures — the Grammys are dealing with specific challenges heading into Sunday’s ceremony.

Kanye West wearing sunglasses and a gold necklace

Kanye West is up for album of the yr with “Donda,” although he’s not slated to carry out on the Grammys telecast.

(Evan Agostini / Invision/AP)

Kanye West, at all times a dependable driver of consideration, was barred from acting on the present due to current threats he’s made on social media. A scheduled efficiency by Foo Fighters was canceled after the band’s drummer, Taylor Hawkins, died all of the sudden on tour final week. Constructive COVID check outcomes for 2 members of BTS have thrown that massively standard boy band’s look into query.

After which there’s the truth that the Grammys are going down for the primary time in Las Vegas, two months after the present was purported to occur Jan. 31 at its longtime residence of Crytpo.com Enviornment in downtown Los Angeles. On the time, the academy stated it had no selection however to postpone the occasion amid an outbreak of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

“I simply hope folks know concerning the present,” stated Winston, a veteran of British TV greatest recognized to Individuals for turning James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” right into a viral sensation. (Different members of the Grammys mind belief embody government producer Raj Kapoor, who’s serving as showrunner, and co-executive producer Jeannae Rouzan-Clay.) “Individuals at all times assume the Grammys is on the finish of January, so my concern is that they comprehend it’s this weekend” — a message CBS has been hammering in TV spots in the course of the NCAA basketball match.

A woman in a purple dress sings and plays the guitar onstage.

Olivia Rodrigo performs in the course of the 2021 American Music Awards at L.A.’s Microsoft Theater on Nov. 21, 2021.

(Kevin Winter / Getty Photographs for MRC)

To drum up curiosity, the present has performances deliberate by Eilish, Gaga, Underwood, Olivia Rodrigo, Lil Nas X, Silk Sonic, Brandi Carlile and Chris Stapleton, amongst others, in addition to a tribute to Stephen Sondheim, who died in November. Trevor Noah of “The Day by day Present” will host. Presenters will embody Megan Thee Stallion, Dua Lipa, Joni Mitchell (this yr’s recipient of the academy’s MusiCares Individual of the Yr award) and Questlove, whose “Summer season of Soul” was named greatest documentary on the Oscars instantly after Smith’s altercation with Rock.

Batiste, a jazz and R&B composer who’s additionally the bandleader on “The Late Present With Stephen Colbert,” is the night time’s most-nominated act, with 11 nods. However youthful viewers could also be extra inclined to tune in to see whether or not 19-year-old Rodrigo sweeps the Grammys’ 4 largest awards — album, report and tune of the yr, together with greatest new artist — on the power of her smash energy ballad “Drivers License.” (If she does, she’d comply with Eilish, who pulled off the feat in 2020.) One impediment in Rodrigo’s path: 95-year-old Tony Bennett, whose assortment of Cole Porter tunes with Woman Gaga is up for album of the yr. Different high-profile artists vying for that prize are Eilish, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Doja Cat.

Concerning a possible look Sunday by Bennett, who has Alzheimer’s illness, Kapoor stated the producers are in contact together with his crew “every day.”

“We might roll out the pink carpet ought to he be capable to come,” Winston added. “However we’re unsure in the intervening time.” (On Thursday a placard with Bennett’s photograph was amongst these within the nominees’ seating space.)

Bennett apart, this yr’s performers skew younger in comparison with the Grammys in Ehrlich’s day, when old-timers like Sting and the Eagles appeared to take up as a lot air time as any present hitmaker. Kapoor stated the producers are merely reflecting the nominations, that are more and more going to youthful acts — itself a change for the Grammys, which for years drew criticism for rewarding established acts on the expense of pop innovators.

On the 2021 ceremony, the academy shut out the Weeknd’s blockbuster “After Hours” album from even a single nod; the group later overhauled its voting course of to remove secretive “nomination overview committees” of insiders that many (together with the Weeknd) suspected of rigging the vote. The academy has roughly 11,000 voting members, a pool of recording-industry professionals it’s labored to diversify alongside age, race and gender strains.

“We’ve additionally moved away from doing too many tribute performances that you need to form of work out why,” Winston stated. “The Grammys historically have gone, ‘Oh, it’s the seventy fifth anniversary of this,’ or, ‘It’s 20 years since this occurred,’ and that’s an excuse for doing one thing. Our style is that it could be higher to showcase one thing newer or one thing that persons are interacting with.

“However we haven’t made a aware choice that we don’t need anyone over 45 on the present.”

Requested to elaborate on the choice to bar a efficiency by 44-year-old West — who now goes by Ye and later this month will headline the Coachella pageant — Mason stated, “I don’t wish to touch upon who we don’t invite to the present. I feel it’s in poor style to speak about it as a result of there’s quite a lot of totally different causes artists are capable of carry out or not carry out.” The academy has a famously rocky relationship with hip-hop artists, who say Grammy voters don’t respect or perceive the tradition; Drake requested this yr that his album “Licensed Lover Boy” be withdrawn from awards consideration, presumably as a type of protest.

Does Mason fear that not having Ye is a misplaced rankings alternative?

A man stands at a transparent podium.

Harvey Mason Jr., chairman of the board of trustees of the Recording Academy, stated there was nothing the group may have carried out to maintain the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles this yr.

(Bryan Bedder / Getty Photographs)

“With each artist there are nice issues that come together with them, and also you’re at all times weighing the whole lot,” he stated. The rapper and producer, who has 5 Grammy nominations (together with album of the yr for his “Donda”), is “positively, positively invited” to attend the present, Mason added.

Although the telecast itself might be again to pre-pandemic dimensions, with elaborate units and a reside area viewers on the MGM Grand, the so-called Grammy Week of occasions that surrounds the ceremony is smaller this yr due to the present’s transfer to Las Vegas. Key events like Clive Davis’ annual night-before-the-Grammys gala and an annual brunch hosted by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation aren’t taking place; Spotify, which throws a preferred bash celebrating the yr’s greatest new artist nominees, remains to be doing its occasion, minus the standard reside performances.

Invoice Werde, director of the Bandier Program for Music and the Leisure Industries at Syracuse College, usually travels to the Grammys in L.A. to community with the “subsequent era of music {industry} leaders.” However this yr he’s staying residence.

“That layer of the music enterprise — the oldsters just below the CEOs of main labels — quite a lot of them aren’t gonna go to Vegas,” he stated, “so it’s a method much less attention-grabbing proposition for somebody like me.”

Mason, who identified that occasions like Friday’s MusiCares dinner honoring Mitchell have offered out, stated, “There was nothing we may’ve carried out” to maintain the Grammys in L.A., given the present’s calls for on a venue.

“Individuals go, ‘Crypto should have been accessible. The Discussion board should have been accessible. It’s solely two or three nights that you simply want,’’” Winston stated. “We load in two weeks earlier than, so in case you’re in search of a venue you possibly can take for 2 complete weeks in the course of [NBA and NHL] seasons and touring bands — nobody’s sitting round going, ‘Oh, this area’s empty.’”

“For us it will’ve been cheaper to be in L.A.; it will’ve been nearer to the {industry},” Mason stated. “There’s quite a lot of issues that may’ve been in our favor if we’d been capable of keep in L.A.” Amongst them: promoting the costly luxurious bins at Crypto to deep-pocketed music bizzers; the MGM area has no bins.

Winston additionally defended the delay from January. “Omicron was simply flying,” he stated. “I didn’t know anyone that didn’t have it.” Again then, he added, “There have been artists that didn’t wish to go as massive with their efficiency. They didn’t wish to do it with as a lot ambition when all of it would possibly go an hour earlier than the present in the event that they check constructive.”

Suspending “wasn’t a PR choice,” stated Mason. “We have been in the course of an enormous outbreak in L.A. We have been involved about hospital beds; we have been getting experiences from our CDC folks saying that going forward with the present was very dangerous.”

Now, with COVID numbers on the decline, “I feel folks need this sense of group again,” Collins stated.

Kapoor was on the Oscars and stated that — at the least earlier than The Slap — “you would sense how totally different it felt within the room. There was really a lot pleasure with folks with the ability to work together.”

That pleasure, Winston stated, is what he’s hoping viewers get from the Grammys — offered, after all, they trouble to observe.