Grammy Awards Live Updates: What to Expect

1 month ago

A majority of attention at the Grammys goes to nominees in the biggest categories, but there are scores of interesting musicians throughout the ballot. Here are a few that stand out:

Best Metal Performance
Power Trip, “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe) — Live”

Riley Gale, the frontman and moral compass of the Dallas thrash band Power Trip, died last August. This nod, for a song from the outstanding concert recording “Live in Seattle: 05.28.2018,” is a reflection of not only the band’s stomping potency and Gale’s charisma, but also an implicit acknowledgment that the group’s ascent to the stratosphere was an inevitability. JON CARAMANICA

Best Contemporary Instrumental Album
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, “Axiom”

It’s a Grammy mystery that “Axiom” is nominated for best contemporary instrumental album — usually a category for pop-jazz and acoustic Americana — when it’s clearly jazz, though Adjuah prefers the term “creative improvised music.” (Meanwhile, Adjuah’s trumpet solo in one track, “Guinnevere,” is nominated for best improvised jazz solo.) Recorded at the Blue Note in Greenwich Village in the last days before the club closed for the pandemic, the music has a now-or-never immediacy: declamatory, percussive, intent on tapping communal power. JON PARELES

Best Regional Roots Music Album
Nā Wai Ehā, “Lovely Sunrise”

The Hawaiian entry in this category, which is an umbrella for traditional and regional American styles, comes from Nā Wai Ehā, a robust, deeply skilled band made up of two sets of brothers devoted to time-honored Hawaiian music that also pays homage to the crisp, harmony-rich pop of the 1960s. CARAMANICA

Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album
Lido Pimienta, “Miss Colombia”

Born in Colombia and living in Canada, Lido Pimienta sings about finding her own path as she forges deep musical connections. She fuses Colombian rhythms and traditions with 21st-century possibilities: electronics, rock guitars, horn sections and choirs of her own clear, guileless voice. PARELES

Best Bluegrass Album
Billy Strings, “Home” (Winner!)

One of the most adventurous guitar players in bluegrass, Billy Strings has been inching toward recognition beyond the walls of the typically cloistered genre. (He recently released a song with country kingpin Luke Combs.) “Home,” his second solo album, is both lustrous and curious, a full-throated arrival of a wicked talent. CARAMANICA

Best Dance/Electronic Album
Arca, “KiCk i”
Baauer, “Planet’s Mad”

In a year of empty dance floors and shuttered clubs, the dance/electronic category looked well beyond typical big-room bangers. “KiCk i” by Arca is a jolting, disorienting, whipsawing album — sometimes confrontational, sometimes whimsical, sometimes yearning, sometimes manic — with guest vocals from Björk and Rosalía along with Arca’s own rapping and singing. “Planet’s Mad” by Baauer, whose 2012 “Harlem Shake” started a video dance craze, is a loud, nutty, overstuffed concept album envisioning the destruction of Earth in an interplanetary collision, hopscotching through assorted international beats on the way to immolation. PARELES

Best Americana Album
Courtney Marie Andrews, “Old Flowers”
Sarah Jarosz, “World on the Ground” (Winner!)

The Americana category includes two pristine, thoughtful, largely acoustic albums suffused with quiet grace. Courtney Marie Andrews’s “Old Flowers” addresses a breakup and its aftermath in sparse, gorgeously sung ballads: heartsick but cleareyed. Sarah Jarosz’s “World on the Ground” envisions a homecoming to small-town Texas to contemplate memories, expectations, disillusion and resilience. PARELES

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