Like most broadcasted award ceremonies, the Grammys are probably longer than they should be, but at least there are plenty of musical performances sprinkled throughout the duration of the show. The musical performances at the Grammys are the saving grace of the night because they fill the space between acceptance speeches, move the night along, and often feature some truly unexpected groupings of performers, like last year when Annie Lenox and Hozier covered “I Put a Spell on You.” Part of the fun is that you never know what you’re gonna get, save the immutable guarantee that Taylor Swift will dance in the audience with her “squad,” and that there will be plenty of corresponding memes on the internet the next day. While some of the acts are sure to remain a surprise, here’s what we do know about this year’s Grammy performances.
LL Cool J
Everyone’s favorite dapper, newspaper hat-wearing, smiling rapper is back for his fifth consecutive year to host the biggest night in music. A two-time Grammy winner and an accomplished actor, LL Cool J is a respected figure in music with the infectious energy required to connect with an audience that large. I mean, come on, just look at that smile.
Yesterday was a big day for Lady Gaga. Earlier on the same day it was announced that the pop star would sing the National Anthem this Sunday at the Super Bowl, The New York Times announced that she would pay tribute to the late David Bowie at the Grammys in a special segment.
Ken Ehrlich, long-time producer of the Grammys, explained that Gaga was already booked for the show before Bowie’s passing, and that when the news came out, he started discussing the possibility of a tribute with her and her manager. Several artists apparently contacted Ehrlich about the coveted opportunity, but he chose to give Lady Gaga a shot at it solo. Gaga proved herself worthy of an honor like this after she took everyone’s breath away with her critically-acclaimed “The Sound of Music” special at the 2015 Oscars. Paying respects to Bowie, however, might be an even heftier responsibility. While the performance at the Oscars saw Gaga give an aesthetically meek, straightforward vocal performance, Bowie’s famed eccentricity may call for Gaga to return to her louder, more glamorous appeal.
Ten-time Grammy award winner Adele will take the stage at the 58th Grammy Awards to perform a song from her most recent record-breaking album 25, which became the first album to sell more than 3 million copies in a week and went platinum three times in five weeks. It feels safe to say that next year she’ll probably take home plenty more awards to add to her collection.
Kendrick Lamar, the rapper behind 2015’s acclaimed masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly, will perform at the 58th Grammy Awards. Lamar is nominated for 11 awards, including Album of the Year and Song of the Year for “Alright.”
Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, had a momentous 2015 with his breakout LP Beauty Behind the Madness and several inescapable, Michael Jackson-indebted radio hits, including “The Hills” and “I Can’t Feel My Face.” Hopefully Kanye will be at the Grammys dancing along like a proud dad, like he was during the Weeknd’s performance of “I Can’t Feel My Face” at the the 2015 VMAs.
Duets: Carrie Underwood and Sam Hunt, Ellie Goulding and Andra Day, and James Bay and Tori Kelly
While the producers behind the awards show enjoy surprising us with original groups and duets, we do know a few of the confirmed duets for the 58th Grammys. Seven-time Grammy winner Carrie Underwood will pair up with Sam Hunt, pop star Ellie Goulding will perform alongside R&B singer Andra Day, and James Bay, who’s nominated for Best New Artist this year, and Tori Kelly, a former American Idol contestant, will perform together. Not the wildest, most unexpected duets, but there’s definitely a lot of raw talent here.
The cast of Hamilton
Today, CBS announced that the cast of the musical Hamilton will perform at the 58th Grammys. There’s one catch, though — the cast will perform via live satellite from the Richard Rogers Theater in New York. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton has been a tremendous box office success and the most talked-about show on Broadway since it debuted. The cast is nominated for Best Musical Theater Album at this year’s awards.Photos via Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS, Carl Court/Getty Images