The 55th annual Grammy Awards air Sunday evening on CBS. The Grammys — so named because each award is shaped like a small golden gramophone — are the preeminent honor within the U.S. recording industry.
Below are four compelling questions that Sunday’s broadcast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles will answer.
Who will be the big winner at the 2013 Grammys? A year ago British songstress Adele stole the show by winning all six of the categories for which she was nominated. This year, a quintet of artists received six nominations apiece: fun., Jay-Z, Mumford & Sons, Frank Ocean and Kanye West. Not far behind, the Black Keys and Miguel both garnered five nods.
The artists up for Best Album are fun., Frank Ocean, the Black Keys, Jack White and Mumford & Sons. Among those nominees, only Ocean’s “Channel Orange” bears a parental advisory for explicit lyrics. Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” is something of a mixed bag, because not only does the album have several songs with Christian themes — Christianity Today described the album as “flowing with biblical imagery and eternal grapplings” — but “Babel” also contains multiple instances of profane language.
Can the broadcast top 40 million viewers? Last year, 39.9 million people watched the Grammys. “That's better than the 2012 Oscars and good for the second most-watched Grammys ever,” Steven Hyden wrote Friday for Grantland. “The most-watched is 1984, when 51.67 million people tuned in to see Michael Jackson cradle eight Grammys.”
Which group performances will click, and which will crash? No fewer than nine group performances — essentially anytime multiple artists take the stage to play music together — will occur at this year’s Grammys. Per the show’s official website, the scheduled collaborations include:
Travis Barker, Chuck D, LL Cool J, Tom Morello and DJ Z-Trip
Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert
Zac Brown, T Bone Burnett (as musical director), Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard, Elton John, Mumford & Sons and Mavis Staples, who will pay tribute to the late Levon Helm of the Band
Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea and Kenny Garrett in tribute to Dave Brubeck
Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band with the Black Keys
Elton John with Ed Sheeran
Alicia Keys and Maroon 5
Bruno Mars, Rihanna and Sting
Miguel and Wiz Khalifa
Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy that annually stages the Grammys, recently told USA Todaythat the non-traditional collaborative performances make the broadcast “a must-see for a huge fan base. It's the kind of show you want to see in real time. We've marched down that path quite successfully, and because of our track record the creative community has developed trust and confidence in the team that puts this show together.”
Will anyone defy the CBS dress code? On Wednesday, CBS sent a memo to performers and presenters with a de facto Grammy dress code, and the memo quickly leaked to the press. The “wardrobe memo” emphasized that buttocks and female breasts must be covered, and subsequently delved into very detailed language about what portions of those two body parts cannot be visible. As Washington Post TV critic Lisa de Moraes astutely observed, “there’s no doubt that the press will critique this year’s Grammys outfits against CBS’s leaked dress-code memo.”
Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at [email protected] or 801-236-6051.