Grammys 2022: Nominees and storylines to pay close attention to From a possible Olivia Rodrigo sweep to the probability of someone mentioning "The Slap," here's what to expect at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards this Sunday.

7 storylines to watch at this year's Grammy Awards

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The Grammy Awards are tomorrow night. Who will win? Who will wow? Will there be any assaults on stage? Jon Batiste leads the field with 11 nominations, but it could also be a big night for major stars that include Olivia Rodrigo, Lil Nas X and Billie Eilish.

Stephen Thompson from NPR Music and Pop Culture Happy Hour joins us. Thanks for being with us.

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: Always a pleasure, Scott.

SIMON: What do you expect?

THOMPSON: Well, I mean, there are a bunch of storylines kind of all coming together. You mentioned in the intro Jon Batiste, the bandleader, piano player, composer. He has 11 nominations. That's the most of anybody over the course of the night. I expect it to be kind of a big coronation for Olivia Rodrigo.


OLIVIA RODRIGO: (Singing) And I just can't imagine how you could be so OK now that I'm gone.

THOMPSON: She is almost certain to win best new artist, very likely to win song and record of the year, maybe more than that. It could also be a very big night for Billie Eilish, who just won an Oscar last weekend. But I see in album of the year kind of the most interesting race of the night. It's certainly possible that Olivia Rodrigo could sweep. It's certainly possible that Billie Eilish could sweep in. I mean, there are 10 nominees, so there are a lot of possible outcomes. But I suspect a major spoiler in the album of the year from Tony Bennett.

SIMON: Well, Tony Bennett is 95, and awards were practically invented for him, weren't they?

THOMPSON: Yeah. I mean, he won record of the year at the fifth-ever Grammy Awards back in 1963 for "I Left My Heart In San Francisco." He has a very, very, very long history with the Grammys. He retired from performing last year due to Alzheimer's disease. And he put out this record last year called "Love For Sale."


TONY BENNETT: (Singing) I get a kick every time I see you standing there before me.

THOMPSON: Which is a bunch of Cole Porter covers that he recorded with Lady Gaga. They've made an album together before. This one really kind of is this culminating, career-capping achievement for Tony Bennett, and I wouldn't be surprised, with all those pop stars splitting the vote, to see a much more traditional entry like Tony Bennett swoop in and take album of the year.

SIMON: What other storylines do you see?

THOMPSON: Well, you mentioned the slap from last weekend's Oscars. I'm sure conversations from that will trickle into how the Grammys are presented this weekend. How will Trevor Noah respond? What sort of jokes will be told? I'm sure there'll be references to it. I would imagine there will not be a repeat of that actual incident.

There are also going to be really flashy, possibly viral performances from people like Lil Nas X and BTS - not performing together, but both huge stars expected to put on big, flashy performances.


BTS: (Singing) Do the boogie like - side step, right, left to my beat, high like the moon, rock with me, baby.

THOMPSON: Speaking of BTS, they've never won a Grammy. Their fans will be very peeved if they don't win on Sunday night. There are also going to be at least two major tributes to artists who have passed. Stephen Sondheim, who died in November - there's going to be a large tribute to him with Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., Rachel Zegler and Ben Platt. Plus, the Foo Fighters drummer, Taylor Hawkins, who recently died - there's going to be a tribute to him. Foo Fighters were supposed to perform at the Grammys and canceled their appearance due to Hawkins's death.

SIMON: The Grammys air Sunday night, and BJ Leiderman, who writes our theme music, isn't nominated so far. Stephen Thompson...

THOMPSON: It's a travesty.

SIMON: ...(Laughter) thanks so much for being with us.

THOMPSON: Thank you, Scott.


JON BATISTE: (Singing) When I move my body just like this, I don't know why, but I feel like freedom. I hear a song that take me back, and I let go with so much freedom.

SIMON: This is NPR News.

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