Guide to the Grammys

by 24USATVFeb. 4, 2024, 2 p.m. 23
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Jon Caramanica: I think Jon Batiste will win this, and it brings me no joy to say so. The Grammys tend to reward conspicuous musicianship, and Batiste, even though the music he makes is not popular, plays well to the Grammy voters who fancy themselves too sophisticated to acknowledge the craftsmanship that goes into the creation of pop music.

Lindsay Zoladz: I’d love to see Olivia Rodrigo take this award for “Vampire,” a sonically adventurous rock-operatic ballad produced with flair by Rodrigo’s trusted collaborator Daniel Nigro. But I fear that the voters are going to play it safe here and go with Miley Cyrus’s sleek, sturdily assembled “Flowers.”

Even if you don’t care about the winners, the Grammys usually have a live performance or two that are worth tuning in for. Are there any you’re looking forward to this year?

Jon Pareles: I can’t imagine missing the performance by Joni Mitchell. Her recovery from a life-threatening brain aneurysm in 2015 has been beyond heartening. An entire musical community rallied around her as she applied a lifetime of artistic instincts to the voice she has now. Her surprise comeback performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 2022, and her preternatural version of “Summertime” when she accepted the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, showed surpassing musicianship and an indomitable will.

Jon Caramanica: A couple of days ago, whispers began circulating that the Grammys might successfully pull off the seemingly unthinkable. No, not the debut Grammy performance of Joni Mitchell (at 80!), but instead the coaxing of Tracy Chapman out of post-music-industry invisibility to duet with Luke Combs, whose cover of her indelible 1988 hit “Fast Car” was one of last year’s most impactful releases. Should that actually happen, it would be more than a coup.

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