This year’s best new artist category is one of the most competitive in recent memory, as 2019 pop behemoths Lizzo, Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X are up for the award. If the 18-year-old Eilish is crowned victor, she will become the youngest best new artist winner since LeAnn Rimes won the award in 1997 at the age of 14. Lizzo could be the first black female solo artist to win this award since 2011’s winner Esperanza Spalding, and the first black female rapper since 1999’s Lauryn Hill. If Rosalía pulls out a win, she would be the first all-Spanish language musician to have the title of Grammy’s best new artist.
2. The Nipsey Hussle tribute
According to the Recording Academy, the life and career of rapper and activist Nipsey Hussle, who was tragically killed in 2019, will be honored on stage during the ceremony with a special performance. DJ Khaled, John Legend, Meek Mill, Roddy Rich, Kirk Franklin and YG are slated to hit the stage during the tribute. Hussle has three posthumous nominations this year: best rap song and best rap performance (for “Racks In The Middle” featuring Roddy Rich and Hit-Boy), and best rap/sung performance (for his work on DJ Khaled’s “Higher” with John Legend).
3. Alicia Keys’ second consecutive hosting gig
Last year in her first stint as host, Ms. Keys -- who recently announced her upcoming self-titled album -- pulled out all the stops. Not only did she play two grand pianos at once with the greatest of ease, she also brought out Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jennifer Lopez and former First Lady Michelle Obama to discuss the power of music, in a moment of female solidarity (amidst tone-deaf remarks made the year prior by former Recording Academy president, Neil Portnow). We’re eager to see what Keys will do this time around, what social, cultural (or industry) topics she’ll hit on, and who may stop by the Staples Center on Sunday night.
4. Aerosmith and Run-DMC's performance
This year, the Grammys will be the place for the reunion of legendary classic rock band Aerosmith and hip-hop greats Run-DMC. The acts collaborated on a memorable redo of the former’s “Walk This Way” in 1986. Aerosmith, who will celebrate 50 years of being in the music industry this year, will be honored with the Recording Academy’s MusiCares Person of the Year Award this weekend, which commemorates the artist’s achievements and dedication to philanthropic efforts.
5. The return of Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato’s highly-anticipated public return will occur on Sunday night, where she will grace the Grammys stage for the first time since 2017. The native Texan, who suffered a drug-related medical emergency in 2018, is also performing the National Anthem at Super Bowl LIV in Miami, Fla. the week after her coveted Grammy appearance. Her new song “Anyone,” which was written and recorded shortly before her near-fatal overdose, will reportedly be released after she performs it on Sunday’s telecast.
6. Tanya Tucker’s possible first Grammy win
The 61-year-old country legend is up for four wins this year: best country song, best country solo performance and song of the year for “Bring My Flowers Now,” as well as best country album for While I’m Livin’. If she is successful, she will get her very first Grammy. Her first nod came in 1973, when she was not yet 15 years old. Since then, she’s been nominated 13 more times.
7. Innovative performances by Grammy first-timers
The Recording Academy announced that Tyler, The Creator, Billie Eilish, Lizzo and Rosalía are preparing to hit the stage during the show. All four artists, who will have their first Grammy performances on Sunday, are known for their out-of-the-box performances; Eilish performed inside a rotating room on SNL, while Lizzo and Rosalía often bring high-octane choreography to their sets. As for the IGOR musician, we’ve come to expect the unexpected, and there's no doubt whatever these four artists do will have everyone talking the next day.
8. BTS’ debut Grammy performance
While outlets and fans alike have speculated about the news, it’s been confirmed that BTS will accompany Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo and Mason Ramsey on the Grammy stage, in what will be a massive performance of “Old Town Road,” featuring all-star members of the track’s many high-profile remixes. The K-pop superstars recently announced their new album Map of the Soul: 7 will drop in February, and they’re getting ready to go on a world tour to accompany the project.
9. Chatter and comments about Recording Academy drama
An explosive complaint filed by recently deposed Recording Academy president/CEO Deborah Dugan alleging sexual harassment, racial and gender-based discrimination within the Academy made the rounds earlier this week. While members of the Academy deny any wrongdoing and refute Dugan’s claims, it certainly places this year’s Grammy Awards in an interesting light. We’re interested to see if any subtle (hopefully classy) comments about the drama unfolding will be brought up, as specific artists and genres were named in the complaint.
10. A tough-to-predict album of the year race
This year, R&B, rock, pop, hip-hop and alternative artists are all up for the night’s biggest honor, and it’s truly anybody's game. Did the Academy vote based on critical acclaim? On chart success? On the nominee’s reputation and public perception? All will be revealed soon enough.