This Sunday the music business will celebrate its equivalent of Oscar night when the 56th annual Grammy Awards are handed out at L.A.'s Staples Center. Basically it combines two high-school traditions, the prom and the talent show, but the Grammys are always worth watching -- if nothing else, the outfits are a lot more interesting than the Oscars, and someone is almost guaranteed to go off-script (aka "The Kanye Conundrum"). Thus it's about the only time of year the likes of Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight pay any attention to the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Queens of the Stone Age and Gary Clark Jr., who have all been announced as first-time performers.
They're hardly the only ones, too. The other big reason to watch the Grammys is that the ratio of performances to actual awards presented is approximately 3:1, so occasionally there's some great stuff on there. Adele in 2012 comes to mind; so does last year's bizarre medley by host LL Cool J, Chuck D, Tom Morello, Travis Barker and DJ Z-Trip that climaxed in a Beastie Boys tribute of "No Sleep Til Brooklyn."
To their credit, the Grammys give out a lot of statues -- just not on TV. They're the most comprehensive and interactive of the major entertainment awards; an alert on the home page advises, "Are you a 56th Annual Grammy Nominee? Click here to find out." (They're not kidding -- look over here.) Grammy time is also when music publicists go into overdrive, so to give our readers a little taste of what they might be in for Sunday, Rocks Off scoured our inbox for Grammy-related submissions to see what we thought might be worth passing along.
Spotify thinks Imagine Dragons, Daft Punk and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis will clean up. Not quite as heavily streamed was Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," but hey, he gets to perform with Chicago.
Either Macklemore or Lewis will wear a Richard Sherman jersey during the duo's performance. Really, it's just a matter of which one.
Jack Osbourne utters the word "Justin" at least 500 times. Ozzy's kid, whose dad is up for a couple of awards for Black Sabbath's pretty-damn-good comeback album 13, will be anchoring Fuse TV's pregame red-carpet coverage, all four hours of it. No doubt that means asking a bunch of nominees their opinions on music's most pressing issue in 2014 -- The Bieber Arrest.
How far apart will John Mayer and Katy Perry be sitting from Taylor Swift? CBS is advertising Swift and Perry as big parts of the show, so whoever is doing the Grammy seating chart deserves an extra-large gift basket.
Swift better be sitting pretty close to the stage, though. Bing says the lady in Red has near-runaway leads in both Best Country Album and Album of the Year. We would love to see Kanye run up there and tell her Kacey Musgraves had one of the best albums of all time.
Guess who this year's most likeable nominee is? That would be Rocks Off's old buddy Blake Shelton, who according to The Celebrity DBI leads this year's nominees in Q rating or some such horseshit. These folks survey 1,000 Americans every week to arrive at findings like Taylor Swift is a bigger trendsetter than Justin Timberlake and the same number of people can identify Kelly Clarkson as LeBron James. Rocks Off's own research reveals that the DBI people make way more money than we do for no discernible reason.
We're going to get a really, really, really hard-rocking version of a hit from Rumours. This week the Grammys announced that QOTSA -- who will be in Houston exactly two weeks after the show, February 9 at Bayou Music Center -- and Nine Inch Nails will make their Grammy performing debuts, closing the broadcast alongside Dave Grohl (who is on every year) and Lindsey Buckingham. So in our minds the only question is whether they lead into the local news with "Go Your Own Way" or "The Chain." We'd actually take both.
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Bob Lefsetz could give a shit. The longtime music-biz insider and author of the widely read, pervasively cantankerous email newsletter said as much in his most recent missive. "It's manufactured hype for an organization that needs to sell a TV show and a media that fawns over everything involving personalities/stars, and moves on the very next day." Hard to argue with that, but watch the above video if you want to know his thoughts on the Best Rap Album category.
But he would like to replace LL Cool J as host. "The faded rapper has the stage presence of a gnat and the charisma of a doorknob," Lefsetz says. "Couldn't they get someone with a personality, like Kevin Hart? Who could at least crack a few jokes between making fun of the lines he must read from the teleprompter?
"But that's what the Grammys are all about, playing it safe," he adds. "If risk was involved, they'd be hosted by Katt Williams and there'd be GoPros backstage documenting the acts shooting up." (Lefsetz is fond of digression, but his newsletter is often a must-read; subscribe at lefsetz.com.)
The most expensive Grammy real estate? Daft Punk's helmets. Grammy sponsors are always looking for innovative ways to finagle themselves into the broadcast. Rocks Off's pick is a Flash emblem in honor of our favorite character on our favorite show, Houston native Jim Parsons' Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. Bazinga!
SUNDAY'S SCHEDULED PERFORMERS:
- Sara Bareilles feat. Carole King, MusicCares' 2014 Person of the Year
- Beyonce (rumored)
- Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers & Stevie Wonder
- Gary Clark Jr.
- Hunter Hayes
- Kendrick Lamar feat. Imagine Dragons
- John Legend
- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
- Metallica feat. Lang Lang, the Grammys' cultual ambassador to China
- Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr, 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award recipients
- Kacey Musgraves
- Katy Perry
- Pink feat. Nate Ruess, lead singer of fun.
- Robin Thicke feat. Chicago
- Taylor Swift
- Keith Urban
- Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson & Blake Shelton
- Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl & Lindsey Buckingham
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