The 2021 Grammy Awards telecast was nominated for an Emmy on July 13 for outstanding variety special (live). It’s the seventh time the annual Grammy telecast has been nominated in that category (or in equivalent predecessor categories). The show has yet to win a top program award. Will this finally be the year?
Here’s a recap of the seven Grammy telecasts that were nominated for a top program award.
The 19th annual Grammy Awards was nominated for outstanding achievement in coverage of special events. The nod went to the show’s producer, Marty Pasetta. This was the first nomination (in any category) for a Grammy telecast.
About the show: This was the seventh and final show hosted by Andy Williams, whose TV star power in the early ’70s helped get the Grammys on the air in 1971. Stevie Wonder won album of the year for Songs in the Key of Life and performed via satellite from Africa. (The satellite transmission was glitchy, to say the least.) George Benson took record of the year for “This Masquerade.” Barry Manilow’s signature hit “I Write the Songs” won song of the year for songwriter Bruce Johnston. Starland Vocal Band won best new artist on the back of their wimpy smash “Afternoon Delight.”
And the Emmy went to: This was a “juried award.” None of the five contenders received 50% of the vote, so no award was presented – a good way to disappoint everybody. The other nominees were the Oscars, Emmys, Tonys and a PBS program, The Good Old Days of Radio.
The 30th annual Grammy Awards was nominated for outstanding variety-music events programming. The nod went to producers Pierre Cossette and Ken Ehrlich.
About the show: This was the second of three Grammy telecasts hosted by Billy Crystal, who was nominated for outstanding individual achievement – special events. Whitney Houston opened the show with her zesty smash “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me).” Michael Jackson stole the show with one of the most riveting performances in Grammy history – a double header of “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Man in the Mirror.” But he went home empty-handed that night. U2 took album of the year for the first time for The Joshua Tree. Paul Simon won his third record of the year award (that’s still a record) for “Graceland.” The movie theme “Somewhere Out There” won song of the year. Jody Watley took best new artist, even though she had a previous Grammy nod as a member of Shalamar. (That couldn’t happen today.)
And the Emmy went to: The Oscars
The 53rd annual Grammy Awards was nominated for outstanding special class programs. The nomination went to executive producers Ehrlich and John Cossette, son of the telecast’s original producer, Pierre Cossette.
About the show: Lady A’s “Need You Now” took record and song of the year. Those wins were expected, but few correctly predicted two other big winners. Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs upset Eminem’s Recovery for album of the year. And in a Grammy shocker for the ages, jazz artist Esperanza Spalding beat Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence + the Machine and Mumford & Sons for best new artist. Performance highlights included Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.”
And the Emmy went to: The Tonys
The 54th annual Grammy Awards was nominated for outstanding special class programs. The nomination went to executive producer Ehrlich and first-time host LL Cool J. The show received a total of six Emmy nods, more than any other Grammy telecast.
About the show: This show aired the night after Houston’s shocking death, which boosted the ratings as viewers tuned in to see how the Grammys would respond to something they couldn’t possibly have anticipated. From LL’s heartfelt prayer to Jennifer Hudson’s subdued version of “I Will Always Love You,” the treatment of Houston’s death hit all the right notes. Adele won six awards, including album of the year for 21 and record and song of the year for “Rolling in the Deep.” Bon Iver took best new artist, beating Nicki Minaj and J. Cole, among others.
And the Emmy went to: The Tonys
The 60th annual Grammy Awards was nominated for outstanding variety special (live). The nomination went to executive producer Ehrlich, Eric Cook (supervising producer), Ben Winston (producer) and host James Corden, who was fronting the show for the second year.
About the show: Bruno Mars swept three of the Big Four awards. “24K Magic” took record of the year. His album of the same name won album of the year. “That’s What I Like” took song of the year. Mars teamed with Cardi B to perform “Finesse” on the telecast. Alessia Cara won best new artist and teamed with Logic and Khalid to close the show with their smash, “1-800-273-8255” (the phone number of the suicide prevention hotline). The unlikely team-up of Kendrick Lamar, U2 and Dave Chappelle opened the show.
And the Emmy went to: Jesus Christ Superstar, Live in Concert
The 61st annual Grammy Awards was nominated for outstanding variety special (live). The nomination was shared by Ehrlich and Winston, executive producers; Cook, supervising producer; Jesse Collins, Raj Kapoor, Chantel Saucedo and David Wild, producers; and first-time host Alicia Keys.
About the show: Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” won record and song of the year. It was the first hip-hop hit to win in either category. (Better late than never.) Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour took album of the year. (She performed “Rainbow” on the telecast.) Dua Lipa took best new artist. (She performed “One Kiss.”)
And the Emmy went to: Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman’s Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons
The 63rd annual Grammy Awards are nominated for outstanding variety special (live). The Emmys haven’t determined who the final nominees will be, but if they conform to recent practice, the nominees will probably be Winston, executive producer; Collins and Kapoor, co-executive producers; Josie Cliff, Fatima Robinson and Wild, producers; and Trevor Noah, first-time host.
About the show: This was the first (and let’s hope, last) Grammy telecast held during a pandemic. Taylor Swift won album of the year for folklore, becoming the first woman to win three times in that category. Beyoncé surpassed Alison Krauss as the woman with the most Grammys in history (28). Billie Eilish won record of the year for “Everything I Wanted,” making her just the third artist in Grammy history to win back-to-back awards in this category. H.E.R. took song of the year for the Black Lives Matter anthem “I Can’t Breathe.” Megan Thee Stallion took best new artist. Performance highlights included Harry Styles’ “Watermelon Sugar” and BTS’s “Dynamite.”
And the Emmy went to: We’ll find out in September. The other nominees are Celebrating America – An Inauguration Night Special, The Oscars, The Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show Starring The Weeknd and Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020: Democracy’s Last Stand …