Stars roll dice for Grammys gold as Vegas hosts music's best

Stars roll dice for Grammys gold as Vegas hosts music's best

The music world's A-listers will hit Las Vegas on Sunday for the Grammy Awards, where pop's chart-toppers along with jazzman Jon Batiste will compete for the industry's most coveted trophies.

Grammy Awards Billy Eilish
Frederick J. Brown / AFP

The US gambling capital is hosting the ceremony for the first time ever, after organizers postponed the original January 31 event over a surge in Covid-19 cases and then moved it out of Los Angeles.

The timing of the Grammys just one week after Will Smith stunned the world by slapping Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars adds an extra layer of unpredictability to what is already usually one of the more bizarre nights on the showbiz awards circuit.

Justin Bieber will vie for eight trophies at the ceremony hosted by late night television personality Trevor Noah, as will R&B favorite H.E.R. and singer-rapper Doja Cat.

Grammys darling Billie Eilish is in the running for seven prizes. The same holds true for Olivia Rodrigo, a former Disney channel actress who exploded onto the pop scene last year with her breakout smash hit "drivers license."

The 19-year-old Rodrigo landed expected nods for her much-touted debut album "Sour," and is a near shoo-in for the Best New Artist prize -- she is up against Eilish's brother Finneas, rapper Saweetie and experimental pop act Japanese Breakfast, among others.

Like Eilish in 2020, Rodrigo has the opportunity to sweep the top four categories on the same night, which would make her only the third artist to do so. The first was singer-songwriter Christopher Cross. 

But it is Jon Batiste -- the jazz and R&B artist and bandleader, who won an Oscar last year for his soundtrack to the Pixar animated movie "Soul" -- who has the most chances at Grammys gold, snagging 11 nominations including in two top categories.

The artist born into a prominent New Orleans musical dynasty will compete mainly on the strength of his album "We Are" and its rousing single "Freedom."

The sleeper nominations leader is up for awards in fields spanning genre and medium, including R&B, jazz, American roots and contemporary classical, along with nods for Best Music Video and his composition work on "Soul."

He appeared briefly on the red carpet at a pre-Grammy gala Friday, hamming it up for photographers before telling AFP he was feeling "great" ahead of Sunday's awards.

"I'm so happy," he said with a loud whoop. "My granddad came to town!"


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