Batiste, Rodrigo, Kanye win early Grammys ahead of Vegas gala

Batiste, Rodrigo, Kanye win early Grammys ahead of Vegas gala

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Music’s best and brightest on Sunday strutted down the red carpet in Las Vegas for the Grammys, where leading nominee Jon Batiste jumped out of the gate with four pre-gala awards.

Sin City 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 from Los Angeles to the US gambling capital.

Olivia Rodrigo, who arrived on the carpet in cleavage-baring Vivienne Westwood, won her first Grammy of the night — and ever — in the best pop solo performance category for “drivers license.”

Like Billie 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 in 1981.

The top awards will be distributed during the broadcast gala, where stars including Rodrigo, Eilish, Batiste, H.E.R., and Lil Nas X are slated to perform.

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

Comedian Nate Bargatze cracked the first joke at the Oscars’ expense, appearing onstage during the pre-ceremony at which most of the awards are doled out.

“They said comedians have to wear these now at awards shows, during their joke parts,” he said, sporting a giant helmet.

But it was smooth sailing as winners in categories including rock, rap, classical and Latin received their trophies.

Music’s chaos agent Kanye West did not appear to be in attendance even as he won two Grammys, one of which he shares with Jay Z.

But in the competitive Best Rap Album category, it was Tyler, the Creator who won for “Call Me If You Get Lost.”

The Foo Fighters won all three Grammys they were nominated for, just over a week after the rock band’s drummer Taylor Hawkins died unexpectedly.

No one from the band appeared to accept the trophies, though a tribute to the 50-year-old Hawkins — who was found dead in a hotel in Bogota shortly before a planned performance — is anticipated during the televised ceremony.

– Batiste leading –

Jon Batiste, a 35-year-old born into a prominent New Orleans musical dynasty, made good on his status as the top nominated artist with 11 nods, winning four awards including for Best Music Video.

“I am so grateful for the gifts that God has given me, and the ability to share that for the love of humankind,” Batiste said onstage, wearing a flashy sequined suit that matched his megawatt smile.

He is vying for Record of the Year and Album of the Year, which he’ll compete for against big-budget pop juggernauts including Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber along with Rodrigo and Eilish.

Bieber was up for eight trophies at the ceremony hosted by late night television personality Trevor Noah, as was singer-rapper Doja Cat and R&B favorite H.E.R., who notched one early award.

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.

– Joni in the house –

The Grammys field for the main prizes is wide open — especially after the Recording Academy expanded those top four categories yet again, this time to include 10 nominees, in a bid to improve diversity.

The expansion has also resulted in one of the most eclectic crops of Best New Artist nominees in recent memory, even if Rodrigo is widely tipped to win.

The Brooklyn-based Pakistani vocalist Arooj Aftab, who won her first Grammy ever for Best Global Music Performance for “Mohabbat,” is also vying for the Best New Artist trophy.

“I am beyond thrilled,” the artist told journalists backstage at the pre-gala ceremony, at which the vast majority of awards are handed out. “It feels great.”

The Recording Academy will also include a special segment on Ukraine, in partnership with Global Citizen, encouraging awareness of the war as well as fundraising efforts for humanitarian aid.

Among Sunday’s presenters will be folk icon Joni Mitchell, who was honored at a moving tribute gala Friday.

She won an award for Best Historical Album, appearing onstage in a red leather beret, sunglasses and floral pants, her long blonde hair in pigtails.

AFP

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