Grammys Live: If it feels like the songs and albums nominated for this year’s 63rd Grammy Awards came out a lifetime ago, well, that’s because they pretty much did.
Take Megan Thee Stallion‘s Savage featuring Beyoncé, nominated for record of the year, rap performance and rap song. The original, Bey-less version of “Savage” was released on March 6, 2020. On that day, Elizabeth Warren suspended her presidential campaign. The Lakers defeated the Milwaukee Bucks at a packed Staples Center. George Floyd was working security at a Minneapolis nightclub. And L.A. County confirmed two additional cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total to 13.
In November, when Grammy nominations were announced, our lives had already been irrevocably altered by the COVID-19 pandemic and by the protests for racial justice that followed Floyd’s murder. Some of the nominated music reflected those cataclysmic events, such as Taylor Swift’s quarantine album “Folklore” and Beyoncé’s driving Juneteenth single, Black Parade.
Still, Grammys gonna Grammy, and amid a solid slate of nominees, the Recording Academy inexplicably snubbed the Weeknd, whose “Blinding Lights” was the only song in 2020 that absolutely everyone liked. And so what should have been a cycle of relative calm — maybe even mixed with some back slaps — for interim Recording Academy Chief Executive Harvey Mason Jr. instead turned into a firestorm of accusations against the Grammys, with the Weeknd branding them “corrupt” and artists as well as the music industry railing against the so-called secret committees that wield backroom power over the nominations.
And then, of course, more turmoil: The show, originally scheduled for L.A. on Jan. 31, had to be moved to March 14 after COVID cases surged in California and around the U.S.
Sunday’s broadcast will not have a live audience, will not have many if any live performances and will not be held at Staples Center. It will, though, feature performances from Taylor Swift, Megan Thee Stallion, Bad Bunny, Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, BTS, Dua Lipa and the new Silk Sonic duo of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak; tightly contested races for top awards among Beyoncé (nine nominations), Swift six and Lipa six; and tributes to the club workers and live-music professionals whose lives and livelihoods have been ravaged by the pandemic.
But don’t expect to see a “Savage” hot-girl summit with Beyoncé and Megan. The Recording Academy announced that Beyoncé has declined to appear on the broadcast. Grammys gonna Grammy.