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Grammys 101 – Everything You Need To Know!

Photograph of the blog post author, Sophia Atkinson

Sophia Atkinson


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It’s rare an awards ceremony in showbiz doesn’t garner a little drama. But, all eyes will be on the Grammys and the Grammy awards this January, as it celebrates its 63rd anniversary. Virtually, for the first time in its history!

grammy awards

The music industry has been hit particularly hard by social distancing and travel bans this year as a result of Covid-19

It feels right that “Music’s Biggest Night” will arrive at the very beginning of 2021. Hopefully marking a fresh start for the industry.

For those of us starting the year in some form of lockdown. The wacky speeches, Twitter feuds, and stand-out grammy performances as grammy award nominees fight for album or song of the year are exactly what we need. 

With that said, we have created the ultimate guide to everything you need to know about the Grammys. If this sounds like something that might interest you, then keep on reading!

Where Are The Grammys Held?

staples center

The Grammys are held annually in the United States and began in 1958. They were known previously as The Gramophone Awards. 

Over the years, locations have moved between various places. Including Nashville, Los Angeles, and New York (Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Gardens). 

The awards will honour the music industry’s most valued musicians, producers, and composers. All from tracks released late in 2019 and 2020.

This year, the show will be filmed in Los Angeles’ Staples Center. Organisers are fully committed to a live show. Promising a huge night with ‘epic live performances, rain or shine, COVID-19 vaccine or not’. 

Though undoubtedly, if the audience is absent this year, camerawork will have to be creative to preserve the Grammys’ electric atmosphere.

What To Expect From The Grammys This Year


Trevor Noah, host of the ‘Daily Show’, will be hosting the Grammy Awards this year. Picking up where Alicia Keys left off in 2020. 

Producing in unprecedented conditions is Ben Winston. Also behind ‘The Late Late Show’ and the soon-to-be-released ‘Friends’ reunion episode.

Rumours have been flying around about how the show will proceed this year. With three potential formats reportedly brainstormed by the production team. 

The first was to have a full crowd. The second a reduced audience and the third, no audience at all. 

With a widespread second wave around the world. The latter options are looking more likely. 

Organisers, however, have continually emphasised the importance to the music industry of having an annual event where live music is showcased at an incredibly high level.

Details on how the live show will work have been scarce. But Winston has described the construction of multiple stages to allow artists to act as audiences to one another. Rather than a large half-empty auditorium. 

He has also promised that nothing will be pre-recorded. Winston also plans to place a spotlight on independent music venues through the awards.

How Can I Watch The Grammys?


Here is everything you need to know about how you can watch the Grammys. From the correct channels to what time the ceremony starts!

What Channel Is The Grammys On? 

In the US, the award ceremony will be broadcast on CBS/ CBS All Access.

Outside of the United States, the ceremony will be broadcast as a livestream via the official Grammy Awards 2021 website.

Remember 8pm ET is closer to 4am in London – so catch up may be handy!

Last year, 4music also broadcast the Grammys live in the UK. But there’s been no confirmation they will for 2021.

If last year is anything to go by, we should know who all the 2021 Grammy winners are by 9:30pm ET/ 5:30am GMT!

What Time Do The Grammys Start?

The 2021 Grammy Award performances and ceremony will begin live from 8pm ET, 31st January 2021.

How Many Award Categories Are There In The Grammys?

grammy awards

The number of categories varies year on year. For 2021, there are 83 categories to cover multiple roles across many genres. 

The Grammys highly contested categories include: 

  • Best Pop Vocal Album
  • Record of the Year
  • Best Pop Group Performance
  • Song of the Year
  • Best Dance Album
  • Album of the Year
  • Best New Artist

Other key genres include Progressive RnB, Country, Jazz, Rock, Global Music and Rap. 

How Are Grammy Nominees Chosen?

grammy nomination guide

Nominees were released earlier this year on 24th November. Prompting a storm of criticism from The Weeknd over his omission. As well as a shock for Taylor Swift fans as she was included among the nominations this year.

From the ceremony’s inception, conspiracies over the judging process have been rife.

What we do know is, 150 experts who are voting members of the academy narrow down the 20,000+ submissions. They do this by casting ballots in their specialist genres. 

Judges are required to have credits on at least six commercially released tracks to vote. There will be 83 award winners this year. Don’t worry, only about 30% are announced on the night!

Who Is Nominated For The 2021 Grammys?

grammy nominees

Beyonce has been nominated for nine Grammy awards this year without even releasing a new album

This takes her total nominations to 79. Tied second for the most Grammy nominations ever with Paul McCartney. Narrowly second only to husband Jay-Z and Quincy Jones.  

Beyonce’s direction on Black is King has gained her various nominations. These being Best Music Video and Best Music Film.

‘Black Parade’ and ‘Savage’ have also both earnt nominations for the coveted categories. Such as Song of the Year, Best RnB Song, and Record of the Year.

Women absolutely dominate the nominations this year. With artists such as Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish receiving multiple nominations. Including genres where women have historically been snubbed. 

In addition, Best Rock Performance and Best Country Album nominees in 2021 are all women or fronted by women. A Grammy first!

BTS has also finally broken into the 2021 Grammy nominations. With Dynamite being nominated for Best Group Performance. This makes them the first K-Pop group ever to receive a Grammy nomination. However, they’re up against the likes of Justin Bieber and Quavo  – strong contenders.

Finally, you can check out the full list of nominees here

What Impact Have The Grammys Had On The Music Industry?

grammy award

Over the years, the Grammys have had to adapt to a changing industry and a changing world. 

The awards ceremony, however, has been put under pressure to stay relevant as well as accountable. 

2020 will be remembered as the year of the pandemic. And an explosive period of global protests in support of Black Lives Matter. 

The politically charged atmosphere has led to an increased spotlight on racism in all areas. Including the music industry.

Earlier in the year, Tyler the Creator took on the Grammy management to critique implicit racism in the award category, ‘Urban Music’. He said, “I don’t like that ‘urban’ word, it’s just a politically correct way to say the ‘n’ word to me.” 

He described his win of ‘Best Rap Album’ as a “backhanded compliment”. Arguing that the awards perpetuated musical segregation by categorising black musicians in the ‘urban’ or ‘rap’ categories. 

The name ‘Urban Music’ has now been changed to ‘Progressive RnB’. But the hope was that ‘urban’ would integrate with pop. This was in order to give black artists the opportunity to compete with white musicians.

Similarly, World Music was renamed Global Music.

Recently, The Weeknd has gone public about how his AMA award-winning After Hours album has failed to gain a nomination. Allegedly, due to corruption in the judging process.

The Weeknd’s criticism of racism in nominations this year has been supported by Drake. He also highlighted the absence of the likes of PartyNextDoor and Popcaan.

Nicki Minaj also challenged the Grammys. With a reminder that she wasn’t nominated for Best New Artist the year she had 7 songs in the billboard charts

What Was The Response?

The response from the Grammys, however, has been constructive. 

This year, the Recording Academy founded Black Music Collective. It is being led by an incredibly dynamic and powerful leadership council of industry greats. Such as John Legend and Terri Lynn Carrington. 

The body is focused on the recognition, inclusion, and advancement of black music creators. Both within the Recording Academy and the Grammys. As well as holistically in the music industry

Grammy award winners and nominees experience transformational opportunities and exposure through the awards ceremony. The hope is that Black Music Collective will foster a further appreciation of black artists

This year, the Recording Academy’s MusiCares organisation has also been crucial in sustaining musicians. Through the most challenging period in living memory with financial, health, and wellbeing support. 

That Was Our Guide To The Grammys


We hope that this article gave you all the deets you needed for this year’s 2021 Grammys!

As well as some juicy gossip, we’ve covered the history of ‘The Gramophone Awards’ all the way back to 1958. And also brought you right up to date with the Recording Academy’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement. As well as calls for greater racial equality. 

2020 might be remembered as the year the world seemed to freeze. But the quantity and quality of music released this year has been inspirational. 

Putting the awards on pause just wouldn’t be right. Let’s hope the 2021 Grammys are the start of a year where the world can wake up again to live performances. And what better way to celebrate!

We can’t wait to see the creative approaches producers take to staging the biggest night of music in a pandemic.

Just remember the ceremony will begin on 31st January at 8pm ET on CBS or the livestream. Tune in and get the party started!

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