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I.B. BAD ON MUSIC’S
BIGGEST FIGHT

How will Messrs. Ehrlich and Sussman plot performances on Grammy night as they plan a telecast that will be light on superstars, to put it mildly?

One moment the show’s creators will likely seek is a duet from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, whose A Star Is Born monster “Shallow” is up for Record and Song. But Star and its stars will also figure prominently on the Academy Awards, airing just two weeks later; could their obligations on Oscar night complicate what they can do on the Grammys? Certainly, both shows will want their star wattage, as they continue to vie for top music and movie honors; few performers can match Gaga’s versatility, craft and magnetism, and her chemistry with Cooper was key to the film’s explosive success.

Trophy-watchers are also wondering about other top nominees who might perform on the show, including Drake (who last year expressed indifference about the Grammys but who this year has big nods), Post Malone, Cardi B, Kendrick Lamar (likely to be on the show for the third year running, for Black Panther) and Childish Gambino. Who might help reverse the trend of the telecast’s diminishing viewership? Look for some big looks for country superstars, who are often ratings boosters; the reliably charismatic Dolly Parton, recipient of this year’s MusiCares Person of the Year honor, is expected to appear. Could Miley Cyrus also lend some buzz as a performer?

Speaking of Grammy, wonderers wonder: If Ariana Grande is cool enough to headline Coachella, why isn’t she cool enough for a top-tier Grammy nom? The Republic superstar, with expert guidance from Scooter Braun, has had a massive year. She’s scored multiple hits garnering impressive streams, spins and sales; the redemptive Manchester benefit; diverse, effective TV looks; and an overwhelming social-media profile (as she gracefully weathered a high-profile breakup). Grande is unquestionably one of the top artists of the moment. Why she was consigned to the Grammy Pop ghetto—alongside fellow marketplace movers Camila Cabello and Taylor Swift, also inexplicably snubbed in marquee categories—remains a head-scratcher, and speaks to the ongoing lack of transparency in the process. Will Grande appear on the show? For the time being, Grammy probably needs her more than she needs Grammy.

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