Grammys 2024: Five things to watch for, including Taylor Swift mania and African stars

Women also outpace men in the top categories this year – a sea change many see as long overdue

From left: Taylor Swift, Janelle Monae, Miley Cyrus, Olivia Rodrigo and SZA are all up for Album of the Year at the 2024 Grammys. AFP, AP and Getty Images
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The Grammy Awards are fast approaching and there's a lot to look forward to from one of music's biggest nights.

The live telecast from Arena in Los Angeles is set to begin at 8pm Eastern Time, which is 5am on Monday in the UAE. The red carpet will begin two hours before the show.

Here are five things to watch out for.

Women will rule

At Sunday's gala, seven of eight nominees in the Album and Record of the Year categories are women, including Taylor Swift, SZA, Olivia Rodrigo, Janelle Monae, Lana Del Rey, Miley Cyrus and indie supergroup boygenius.

Jon Batiste, the decorated jazz polymath who dominated the ceremony two years ago, is the sole man in the category.

It's a sea change many industry watchers see as long overdue.

SZA, real name Solana Rowe, is the most nominated artist this year, with nine nominations including for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best RnB Performance for Kill Bill, her revenge anthem cloaked in an RnB ballad.

Australian singer Kylie Minogue, who last appeared as a nominee during the 2009 ceremony, also features in the Best Pop Dance Recording category for summer smash hit Padam Padam.

There may also be some record breaking. If Swift wins Album of the Year for Midnights, she will be the first artist to win the category four times.

If SZA prevails with SOS, she will be the first black woman to win Album of the Year as a lead artist since Lauryn Hill received the honour 25 years ago.

Kelly Clarkson could break the record for most Best Pop Vocal Album wins if she gets her third trophy for her album Chemistry.

Music from Africa finally gets its due

A new award, Best African Music Performance, will be awarded on Sunday, highlighting regional musical traditions and recognising “recordings that utilise unique local expressions from across the African continent".

With performances on the world’s biggest stages and record numbers on global music charts, African acts are charting a new course for music produced on the continent, taking advantage of high-profile international collaborations, a boost from the internet and streaming platforms, and new investment opportunities.

Of the five nominees, only one – South Africa's Tyla who's nominated for her song Water – isn't Nigerian, recognising the country's dominance in the genre.

With his blend of Nigerian pidgin and Yoruba lyrics, Burna Boy, who has already won a Grammy, is nominated for four awards this year, including one for the new African category with the song City Boys.,

Artists Asake and Olamide are nominated for Amapiano, referring to South Africa's own popular genre.

Davido is nominated three times, including for his African award with the song Unavailable, featuring Musa Keys.

And Ayra Starr is up for an award for her single Rush.

The performances

Besides the awards and speeches, live performances will also be a highlight of the ceremony. Twelve acts are set to take the stage, according to the Recording Academy.

Joni Mitchell, 80, considered one of the greatest singer-songwriters, will take the stage for her first Grammy performance.

She received a folk album nomination for her live record Joni Mitchell at Newport, when she delivered a set just years after an aneurysm led to fears she might never play again.

Expected on stage is also Luke Combs, the country singer whose omission from the evening's major prizes was a surprise. Combs released a cover of Tracy Chapman's 1988 classic Fast Car to resounding success, earning a single nod in the country categories.

It is rumoured Combs's performance will include Chapman herself, who rarely appears in public.

Viewers can also look forward to a set from Billy Joel, who recently released a new single, his first original music in nearly two decades.

Other performers include SZA, Eilish, Rodrigo, Lipa, Burna Boy and Travis Scott.

Trevor Noah returns as host

The South African comedian will host the awards for the fourth consecutive year.

Noah himself is up for a Grammy this year, receiving his second nomination for Best Comedy Album.

“It is easily the most nerve-wracking thing that I do, but I love it every single time,” Noah told Associated Press. “Each year there’s a new highlight and a new moment that is embedded into my memory.”

Best known for hosting The Daily Show from 2015 to 2022, Noah recently won an Emmy Award for Best Talk Series for the last season of the show.

What's different in this year's show?

Executive producer Ben Winston said that for some artists, his team has created short films to play before their performances to “tell the story of the artist's year".

“We’re going to put the spotlight on them and the significance of the moment that the audience are about to witness,” he said.

Besides Best African Music Performance, two new award categories have been added: Best Pop Dance Recording and Best Alternative Jazz Album.

Executive producer Raj Kapoor said this is the second year in a row the Grammys are collaborating with a visual artist for its design. This year it's David McLeod, a digital artist from the fine art world.

Updated: February 03, 2024, 12:12 PM