Every awards show has its lane. Want the best red-carpet looks? Tune in to the Oscars. The most drunken acceptance speeches? The Golden Globes are your ticket. Twerking? Set your DVRs for the VMAs.
In recent years, the Grammys' lane probably could be best described as “Why are those people onstage together?” But this year, for once, thanks to a combination of unusually worthy nominees and intriguing performers, this most underwhelming of major award shows might finally get its swagger back. Here are six reasons to watch the 58th annual installment of “music's biggest night,” which airs live on CBS this Monday, Feb. 15, at 5 p.m.
1. Lady Gaga's David Bowie tribute
The choice of Gaga as the sole Grammy performer to honor the Starman left some scratching their heads, but we think it's kind of perfect. She is our era's weirdest pop star, so why not have her pay homage to the most influential weird pop star of all time? Plus, we'd rather watch one artist's singular, idiosyncratic take on Bowie's brilliance than some hodgepodge medley with half a dozen different singers mugging their way through fragments of “The Jean Genie” and “Let's Dance.” Hopefully Mother Monster will rise to the occasion with another of her “What the hell just happened?” show-stealing performances.
2. Hearing Motörhead's “Ace of Spades” on national TV
The Hollywood Vampires, the Sunset Strip supergroup featuring Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, Joe Perry of Aerosmith and the Guns N' Roses rhythm section of Matt Sorum and Duff McKagan, have promised to perform a medley of their original song “As Bad As I Am” and the late, great Lemmy's most famous speed-metal assault, “Ace of Spades.” If we're really lucky, Axl himself will stumble out and duet with Cooper on lead vocals, but even if he doesn't, it will be nice to see the patron saint of the Rainbow Bar & Grill honored by his peers (and fine, Johnny, you can come, too) in front of a primetime audience.
3. Kendrick Lamar
K-Dot always kills on national TV, usually with a never-before-heard track written specifically for the occasion. How he'll respond to his turn in the Grammy spotlight will be fascinating to watch. Will he directly address his 11 nominations? The show's long history of freezing rap music out of the major categories? #BlackLivesMatter? #OscarsSoWhite? The new Kanye album? Knowing Kendrick and his remarkable rhetorical gifts, it'll be some wild combination of all of the above, accompanied by the evening's funkiest music, courtesy of his unstoppable, Thundercat-led backing band.
4. The Lionel Richie segment
The performers lined up to celebrate the Grammys' MusiCares Person of the Year honoree — Luke Bryan, John Legend, Demi Lovato and Meghan Trainor — only sound completely random if you're not familiar with Richie's contributions to popular music beyond corny '80s hits like “Hello” and “Dancing on the Ceiling.” Over the course of his 40-plus-year career, both solo and as a member of '70s group The Commodores, Lionel Brockman Richie Jr. has written and/or sung some of the greatest songs in pop, R&B, disco, gospel, easy listening and even country (his Commodores classic “Three Times a Lady” hit the country charts in a Conway Twitty version, which is probably why Luke Bryan is on the bill). This is one ridiculous Grammy hodgepodge medley we're actually looking forward to — especially because Richie himself will reportedly be part of it.
5. No more West Coast broadcast delay
It only took 16 years, but the Grammys have finally joined the Oscars, the Super Bowl and pretty much every other major cultural event in the 21st century by broadcasting live in all time zones, including out here on the West Coast. This means we finally get to see winners announced and WTF moments perpetrated in real time, instead of just reading about them in our Twitter feed. It's only a bummer for anyone who doesn't get this Monday off for Presidents Day, since the ceremony now starts airing at the peak-rush-hour time of 5 p.m. PT.
6. A potentially historic Album of the Year winner
We haven't been shy in proclaiming that the Hub City's hometown hero, Kendrick Lamar, richly deserves the win here. But if the Grammys pick an upset — which they love to do in this category — it's likely to go to Alabama Shakes, which would make their lead singer, Brittany Howard, only the fourth African-American woman to win the ceremony's most prestigious award (after Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston and Lauryn Hill). Even a win for R&B upstart The Weeknd would mark a significant change of course for the Recording Academy, which over the past decade has mostly frozen black artists out of wins in the major categories.
Hell, even a Chris Stapleton win would be a welcome slap in the face to mainstream bro country. Just don't give it to Taylor Swift again, OK, guys? We love her and all, but she's got enough hardware in her trophy case.