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Grammy Awards 2019: Five burning questions
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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The Grammy Awards' 60th anniversary last year was a big deal.



But that doesn't diminish any expectations or drama for the 61st annual ceremony, which takes place Sunday, Feb. 10, in Los Angeles.



With its general categories expanded to eight nominees rather than five, this year's Grammys clearly address calls for more diversity and more youth perhaps to the chagrin of a 10-time-winning fixture such as Taylor Swift, who's up for just one award (Best Pop Vocal Album) despite having a hot-selling album, "Reputation," during the eligibility period.



That, of course, leaves us with plenty of questions leading up to the awards presentation. Five of the burning queries include ...



A payback year for Kendrick Lamar?

Despite great critical acclaim, the Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper's last three albums 2012's "Good Kid, m.a.a.d. City," 2015's "To Pimp a Butterfly" and 2017's "Damn" lost Album of the Year to Daft Punk, Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars, respectively. His curation of "Black Panther: The Album" was masterful and helped Lamar net a field-leading eight nominations this year. The groundbreaking superhero film's popularity may help voters finally give Lamar his due this year.



Redemption for Greta Van Fleet?

The Frankenmuth rock quartet has been taking lumps recently for its retro-leaning sound and Josh Kiszka's remarkable vocal similarity to Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant. Somebody other than fans like it, though. The group nailed four nominations, including Best New Artist and Best Rock Album. There's some cred right there, and a win or two (or more) will only bolster GVF's case.



Can Cardi B steal the show?

The rapper's a loose cannon, and with five nominations and a scheduled performance she'll definitely be a presence at the ceremony. She has the capacity for some verbal fireworks and will certainly be a magnet for the camera all night long.



Is Lady Gaga coming up on the outside?

Amidst all the award-grabbing hoopla for her performance in "A Star is Born," it's been easy to forget that Gaga comes from music first. The film's "Shallow" already has a Golden Globe and is up for an Academy Award, notoriety that surely makes it a contender in its four Grammy categories.



What kind of host will Alicia Keys be?

She follows in the footsteps of LL Cool J's smooth success and the mixed results of James Corden's two years. Keys is a musician first and foremost, with her own track record of Grammy wins and arresting performances, but not exactly known for high-personality stand-up wit. We probably won't be falling out of our seats during this year's opening monologue.



Also of note:

Motor City music fans will be well-served during this year's Grammys. Diana Ross is booked for a special 75th birthday performance, while Fantasia, Andra Day and Yolanda Adams will pay tribute to Aretha Franklin. There will also be a Motown tribute in front of the filming of the "Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration" concert, which will be televised in April, though the Recording Academy is being roasted online for giving it to Jennifer Lopez rather than a perhaps more appropriate African-American artist, especially during Black History month.



The 61st Annual Grammy Awards will be televised at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, on CBS (WWJ-Channel 62 in Detroit). Alicia Keys hosts. The Grammy pre-show will be webcast starting at 3:30 p.m. via grammy.com.

Web Site: www.grammy.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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