Whisper it quietly… but could the Grammy Awards get it right this year?
The ceremony, which takes place in Los Angeles on Sunday, is notorious for scoring own goals, often rewarding middle-of-the-road heritage acts over cutting-edge, contemporary pop.
But this year’s nominees are straight-down-the-line populist picks, with R&B star SZA leading the field on nine.
There will also be performances from big names ranging from Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish to Joni Mitchell and U2.
Comedian Trevor Noah will host for the fourth year running, overseeing a staggering 94 categories, from best contemporary Christian album to best audiobook, where Michelle Obama will square off against Meryl Streep.
Elsewhere, Phoebe Bridgers’ indie-rock supergroup Boygenius, and pop star Victoria Monét have seven nominations each.
Chart stars Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey and Ice Spice also have multiple nominations in a female-led field.
Here are nine things to know ahead of the event.
1) How to watch the Grammys
First of all, brew a strong pot of coffee.
More than 80 awards will be handed out in what’s called the “premiere ceremony” at 20:30 GMT on Sunday (12:30 in Los Angeles).
It’s often worth tuning in. The winners in the more obscure categories are less polished and more excited about winning, and the performances are looser and, dare I say it, more musical than the Hollywood-scale set pieces you’ll see later.
The main show, which will start at 01:00 Monday GMT, will be broadcast live in the US on CBS and streamed on Paramount Plus. Speeches and select performances are usually uploaded to YouTube the following day.
2) Will Taylor Swift overtake Ol’ Blue Eyes?
If Swift wins album of the year for Midnights, she will become the first ever artist to lift the prestigious trophy four times.
At the moment, she’s tied with Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra, who each have three wins.
But the Grammys have typically been less interested in Swift’s pop records than her forays into country and folk.
Her competition for album of the year is strong. Here’s the full list of nominees:
- Boygenius – The Record
- Janelle Monáe – The Age of Pleasure
- Jon Batiste – World Music Radio
- Lana Del Rey – Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd
- Miley Cyrus – Endless Summer Vacation
- Olivia Rodrigo – Guts
- SZA – SOS
- Taylor Swift – Midnights
3) Joni and Tracy could put young stars in the shade
Modern-day superstars Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, SZA and Olivia Rodrigo will no doubt put on lavish performances of their big hits.
But the show is likely to be stolen by two other female artists who have largely been out of the public eye in recent years.
Joni Mitchell is guaranteed a reception worthy of a living legend when she makes her debut Grammys performance at the age of 80.
And Tracy Chapman is heavily rumoured to be making a very rare public appearance to join country star Luke Combs on her 1988 classic Fast Car, which he took back to the charts last year.
The night’s other performers will include Billy Joel, Travis Scott and Burna Boy.
4) A win for SZA is a win for Scotland
In the US, SZA’s second album SOS topped the charts for 10 weeks and marked the singer’s ascension to the major league.
Born in Missouri and raised in New Jersey, the singer – real name Solána Imani Rowe – trained in marine biology before launching her music career.
If her latest album picks up a Grammy, it will also mean a win for a 20-year-old music producer from Scotland.
Blair Ferguson, who writes under the name BLK Beats, wrote the music for her hit single Snooze in his Glasgow bedroom, and it went on to sell more than two million copies in the US.
“SZA is just a genius and she’s able to transform any record with the way she comes up with a melody,” he told BBC News. “I don’t think any other artist could have made that track.”
5) Who’s a bigger rock star: Mick or Olivia?
The best rock song category is a culture clash for the ages, as Olivia Rodrigo’s punky Ballad Of A Homeschooled Girl faces off against The Rolling Stones’ Angry, a tale of a lovers’ quarrel.
So who is the face of rock ‘n’ roll in 2024? The Grammys like to reward longevity, but maybe they’ll be swayed by Rodrigo’s rock revivalism, which has helped to ignite the first resurgence in guitar music in over a decade.
It’s a strong field, with Foo Fighters, and Queens of the Stone Age also in the running. But the real contenders have to be Boygenius.
Formed by indie songwriters Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker, last year they made an era-defining guitar album, stacked with spectral harmonies and poetic lyrics.
Nominated in all the major categories as well as the rock subgenres, it could be this year’s runaway winner.
6) A first for Africa
A new category, best African music performance, reflects the growing prominence of genres like Afrobeats and Amapiano but also “Africa’s profound influence on music history”, according to the Grammys.
The inaugural nominees – who would previously have slugged it out in the world music category – include Nigerian stars Burna Boy, Asake, Ayra Starr and Davido, alongside breakout South African singer Tyla.
“Honestly, specifically the Grammys is a huge accolade,” said Tyla, who scored a global hit with Water at the end of 2023.
Two other new awards have also been introduced for 2024 – best alternative jazz album and best pop dance recording.
7) Justice for Miley!
Despite her storied career, Miley Cyrus is yet to win a Grammy, and had only been nominated twice in the past.
However this year, the SFKAHM (Singer formerly known as Hannah Montana) has six nominations for her all-grown-up pop album Endless Summer Vacation.
Lead single Flowers, which was the biggest-selling song in the UK last year and topped the US Billboard charts for eight weeks, is up for record and song of the year, and best pop vocal performance.
But in a strong year for sad girls singing pop songs, she could leave empty-handed all over again.
8) Are the Grammys ghosting country music?
Country had a huge resurgence in the US last year. Streams of the genre rose 20%, and last August the top three positions in the Billboard Hot 100 were occupied by country songs for the first time.
But none of those artists – Morgan Wallen, Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan – are nominated in the Grammys’ biggest, all-genre categories.
In fact, no country album has been nominated for album of the year since Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour five years ago (which won the award).
So what’s going on? It seems to be a reaction to the political and racial undertones of the genre’s biggest stars.
Voters are cautious about Wallen because of a headline-making incident in 2021, where he was caught on camera using a racial slur.
With Aldean, the politics were embedded in his song, Try That in a Small Town – a story of vigilante justice that some listeners interpreted as having racial undertones.
Aldean denied those accusations, but apologised when it transpired he’d filmed the video in front of a Tennessee courthouse that had been the scene of a brutal lynching in 1927.
While stars like Jason Isbell and Zach Bryan made thoughtful songs that challenged Nashville’s more regressive tendencies, they were also shut out of the big prizes.
It seems the Academy, with typical caution, has decided to steer clear.
9) How new does the best new artist have to be?
A mere 21 years after releasing his first song, Tennessee singer Jelly Roll is up for best new artist.
The musician, whose real name is Jason DeFord, isn’t a traditional contender for the category, but his recent move from the underground to the mainstream makes him eligible under Grammy guidelines.
A convicted criminal and former drug dealer, he has served multiple stints in prison and recently testified before the US Congress in support of anti-fentanyl legislation.
His emotional tales of addiction and redemption finally propelled him into the charts last year after a later-career pivot from rap into country music.
At 39, he would be the oldest-ever winner of the best new artist trophy – overtaking Sheryl Crow, who was 33 on the night of her victory in 1995.
But that’s nothing compared to the Latin Grammys, which gave a best new artist trophy to 95-year-old Angela Alvarez in 2022.