Grammys on the Ground: BTS Groove to Silk Sonic, Olivia Rodrigo Shut Out of Spotify Party, Execs Party Like It’s 1999
The Grammys touched down in Las Vegas for a weekend of events leading up to the main event on Sunday. While typically, Grammy week stretches over five days and dozens of functions, the abridged version felt like a much more manageable agenda — and awards show veterans, out of practice after two years of lockdown, were thankful for it.
At the same time, a return to normalcy meant plenty of music industry chatter as artists and executives mingled excitedly all over the strip.
Et tu Kanye? Will he or won’t he show was the question on many attendees’ minds when it came to Kanye West. Publicly disinvited from performing, sources told Variety that the producer-rapper-turned-mogul — who’s up for multiple Grammys, including album of the year — was still permitted to attend the ceremony and the red carpet. But as April 3 approached, and on the heels of the Oscars’ Will Smith-Chris Rock flap and rumors that West could stage a competing livestream at the same time as the Grammys, the Recording Academy restarted talks to have West take the stage. Ultimately, though, West decided to sit out the Grammys entirely. As of Sunday morning, there were no plans for him to attend.
The Ripple Effect Sources say the Grammys’ cancelation of a planned Kanye West performance last month did cause problems in the Black music community, as it essentially forced artists to pick a side: Between a wildly unpredictable yet extremely popular and deeply influential artist, and a Recording Academy that has a history of snubbing performers of color, despite their considerable recent efforts to change that history. Presumably, that was a contributing factor in the relatively small representation of hip-hop performers on the show.
Spotify’s Day in the Sun: Streaming giant Spotify traditionally holds a best new artist showcase ahead of the Grammys, but with 10 artists in contention, performances by each, as in years past, was not an option. Instead, the company cordoned off a section of the Encore Beach Club for its industry guests, aligning with a David Guetta set scheduled for that afternoon. But Guetta attendees did not get, as the DJ was delayed in traveling to Vegas. Instead, the bizzers mingled a velvet rope away from the day-club debauchery of an amped up Saturday. It was a strange scene, many commented, and unlike Spotify to have to share in a party space for one of its tentpole events.
As for the nominated artists, country star Jimmie Allen was in attendance, as were Glass Animals. Olivia Rodrigo was not allowed to attend due to her age. It was strictly 21 and over for the sun-soaked revelers.
Almost Famous: At the Entertainment Law Initiative ceremony honoring veteran music attorney and Fullstop Management exec Susan Genco, Cameron Crowe, “Almost Famous” writer/director Cameron Crowe gave an expansive and wildly entertaining speech that recalled his amazing years as a teenaged rock writer, covering Led Zeppelin, David Bowie and more. He brought it full circle by recalling that after he’d received an Oscar for the film, his mother, who had long pleaded with him to become a lawyer, said, “Now that you’ve won an Oscar, there’s still time to go to law school!”
Up Next: Insiders say that Lizzo’s forthcoming album, due in the Spring, is “amazing.”
Is That a Baby I Hear? Jazz great Kamasi Washington brought his family to the Black Music Collective event — including his young daughter in a stroller, who made her voice heard at comical moments during the ceremony.
Leave the Phone Open? Silk Sonic’s residency at the MGM Park hotel was the place to be on Saturday night, as Atlantic Records played host to a slew of VIPs, including John Legend and members of BTS, as well as Warner Music Group CEO, Recorded Music Max Lousada, Atlantic chairman and COO Julie Greenwald, Warner Chappell co-chair and CEO Guy Moot and co-chair and COO Carianne Marshall and Warner Records’ co-chairman and CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck, among others. Everyone attending had to submit to having their phones locked, by request of Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak. “We dance for real,” read a sign at the entrance explaining the policy.
Indeed, you could feel an explosive energy inside the venue as all in attendance were transfixed on the entertainment at hand — and, yes, grooving in their seats. It makes one wonder if the trade-off — not having the social media exposure, engagement and excitement that comes with a raucous dance party — is worth that 90 minutes of undivided attention. Word is the show’s promoter, AEG, has been debating that very question in an effort to goose ticket sales. Although, from where we sat, it looked like a full house. Still, Silk Sonic is not a household name, and marketing materials around Vegas seem to address that by listing Mars and Paak prominently. Problem solved?
Is That Our COO on the Dance Floor? At the afterparty following Silk Sonic’s performance at Nomad, Atlantic co-chairman/COO Greenwald was spotted throwing down to some old-school hip-hop, as if a reminder were needed that she came up at Rush Management, who steered the careers of Run-DMC, LL Cool J, the early Beastie Boys and many others.
Spotted: Dave from Glass Animals (masked, but recognizable in a brown velvet track suit) walking solo at the MGM’s The District, taking selfies with fans; Nominee Kamasi Washington looking resplendent at check-in at the MGM Grand.
Check back for more gossip as Grammys day progresses.