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    Sunday, March 26, 2023

    8 Grammys storylines and reasons to watch on Sunday

    When the Grammys come to us live Sunday from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, the ladies once again are likely to dominate.

    Leading all nominees is Beyoncé, who, with 28 awards to her name, is the top Grammy performing artist of all time. She is up for nine on Sunday. Right behind her this year is Kendrick Lamar with eight nominations; Adele, Brandi Carlile and Harry Styles with seven nominations each; Mary J. Blige with six; and Lizzo with five.

    Some of those awards will be handed out in the Premiere Ceremony, which can be streamed at 3:30 p.m. at live.grammy.com. The main show, hosted by Trevor Noah, begins at 8 p.m. on CBS and is available for streaming on Paramount+.

    Here are some storylines and reasons to watch:

    Wall-to wall performances

    Keeping with tradition, the Grammy show will be like a streaming concert with a few breaks for awards. There are 91 award categories and less than a dozen handed out during the prime-time show. Among the performers will be Bad Bunny, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Luke Combs, Steve Lacy, Lizzo, Kim Petras and Sam Smith.

    Adele vs. Beyonce

    Two of pop’s biggest divas face off in the three top categories — album, song and record of the year — for the first time since 2017, when Adele swept to victory with the “25” album and the song “Hello.” She accepted that award with some embarrassment and humility, saying tearfully, “I can’t possibly accept this award ... The artist of my life is Beyoncé, and ... the ‘Lemonade’ album was just so monumental.”

    Here they are again in 2023, with Adele’s “30” and the single “Easy on Me” up against Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” and “Break My Soul.”

    Kendrick watch

    The most acclaimed rapper of the past decade, Lamar has won 14 Grammys since 2015, all in the rap and music video categories. He has lost album of the year to Daft Punk (2014), Taylor Swift (2016) and Bruno Mars (2018). This year, with “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers,” he has an outside shot at becoming the first male solo rapper to win album of the year, which has only ever gone to two hip-hop albums: Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” in 1999 and OutKast’s “Speakerboxxx...The Love Below” in 2004. He’ll have to get past Beyoncé, Adele, Styles and Lizzo in the album, song and record categories, where his single “The Heart Part 5” is nominated.

    Country Swift

    Taylor Swift, who is also in the song of the year race with the 10-minute version of “All Too Well,” is back in country contention for the first time since 2018. The nomination is for “I Bet You Think About Me,” a vault song from the re-recorded “Red (Taylor’s Version)” that features Chris Stapleton on vocal harmonies. She’s up against legends Willie Nelson and Miranda Lambert and hot newcomer Luke Combs.

    First for ABBA

    The Grammys never cared much for Sweden’s biggest pop exports, ABBA, which charted nearly a dozen Top 20 hits in the U.S. in the 1970s. The quartet didn’t earn a Grammy nomination until 2021, when they got a record of the year nod for “I Still Have Faith in You” from “Voyage,” their first new album in 40 years. That single didn’t win, but now ABBA has three nominations: “Voyage” for album of the year and “Don’t Shut Me Down,” which sounds like an odd disco-pop throwback in the record of the year and pop duo/group performance categories.

    New categories

    There will be first-time winners in five new award categories. Songwriter of the year, non-classical, consists of non-household names behind the hits by Lizzo, Beyonce, Harry Styles, etc.

    Alternative and Americana both get second categories, for performance, in addition to their album award. Alternative includes one of the indie world’s favorite breakout bands, Wet Leg, who are also nominated for best new artist.

    Americana, which is hard to distinguish from the American Roots categories, encompasses the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Brandi Carlile and Robert Plant & Alison Krauss.

    Also new are best score soundtrack for video games and other interactive media, and best spoken word poetry album.

    Social Change song

    We don’t know the nominees for this new Special Merit Award, to be determined by a Blue Ribbon Committee and ratified by the Recording Academy Board of Trustees. In an interview with NPR, singer-songwriter and Recording Academy member Maimouna Youssef said the leading candidate is “Baraye,” a protest anthem by Iranian composer Shervin Hajipour inspired by the mass demonstrations there that began after a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman died in police custody after being detained for wearing her hijab too loosely.

    Hardcore Baltimore

    With the Grammys pandering to the largest possible audience, there isn’t much attention paid to rock anymore, despite it still selling more concert tickets than any other genre.

    While Ozzy Osbourne, Beck and Megadeth are among the veterans who turn up in the rock and metal categories, the hot trailblazer is Baltimore hardcore band Turnstile, which released one of the most stunning albums of 2021, “Glow On.” It has three nominations, for the songs “Holiday” and “Blackout,” which are well worth a listen.

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