Canadians at the Grammys? What you need to know

TORONTO — It’ll be “Viva Las Vegas” for Canadian musicians on Sunday as the Grammy Awards get underway in the gambling capital of the world.

COVID-19 safety precautions and schedule conflicts forced the biggest night in music to relocate to the Las Vegas Strip, where an array of homegrown contenders are in the running for golden gramophones. But not everyone plans to show up in-person for the big night, which will take place indoors at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Even though Justin Bieber leads the Canadians with eight nominations, his attendance is still unconfirmed and he’s not listed among the performers. Bieber has a mixed relationship with awards events, often choosing to skip the festivities as he did the 2021 Grammys.

And Peterborough, Ont. record producer Greg Wells, who’s up for best musical theater album and best compilation soundtrack for visual media, says he’s staying home out of an abundance of caution as the pandemic continues.

Dan Snaith, better known by his stage name Caribou, also won’t be in attendance if he wins best dance/electronic recording for his album “You Can Do It.”

Most of the 86 Grammy categories, including many of the awards with Canadian nominees, will be handed out at a pre-telecast ceremony hosted by LeVar Burton.

Here’s a look at five things to watch for on Sunday:

BIEBER FEVER: If Justin Bieber doesn’t show, his absence could be felt throughout Grammys night. Many of his eight nominations are in marquee categories announced on the broadcast. Bieber’s chart-topper “Peaches,” which he performs with Toronto’s Daniel Caesar, is up for both record and song of the year, while “Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe)” is nominated for album of the year and best pop vocal album. The Stratford, Ont. native is also in contention for best pop solo performance for “Anyone” and best pop duo for his work alongside Benny Blanco on “Lonely.” “Peaches” juiced two more nodes in the best R&B performance and best music video categories. The tally is by far the most nods Bieber has received in a single year and adds to his two wins and 22 Grammy nominations.

MORE THAN ABEL: Another Canadian unlikely to grace the night is the Weeknd, who pledged a permanent boycott of the Grammys when he was shut out from the nominations last year. It’s surprising then that the Toronto pop superstar, born Abel Tesfaye, appears three times among the list of 2022 nominees. But don’t necessarily blame the singer for breaking his own promise. All of his nodes come from appearances on other artists’ work. He’s named alongside Lil Baby on Kanye West’s “Hurricane,” which is up for best melodic rap performance, and for his vocal contributions to Doja Cat’s deluxe edition of “Planet Her” and West’s “Donda,” both up for album of the year.

NO DRAKE: The Toronto rapper’s on-again, off-again relationship with the Recording Academy is officially off again after he withdrew his name from two Grammy categories once he was already announced as a nominee last November. Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” was originally up for best rap album while his song “Way 2 Sexy,” featuring Future and Young Thug, was in the running for best rap performance. Those two categories now have one fewer nominee, since organizers opted not to replace his name. Before an artist is nominated, their record label or another representative must submit their work for consideration. Drake has given no explanation for his decision to pull out.

QUIET STORM: With three Grammy nominations for her debut album “Outside Child,” Montreal’s Allison Russell is one to watch. The singer-songwriter’s deeply personal project draws from childhood abuse and is recognized in the best Americana album category. The song “Nightflyer” is in contention for best American roots performance and best American roots song. Aside from her potential wins, Russell will take the stage to perform on the Grammys pre-telecast that streams live on Grammy.com. She’ll also head to the Juno Awards in May where she has two nominations.

TOASTING A LEGEND: Joni Mitchell could be handed her ninth career Grammy if she wins best historical album for the reflective “Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 1: The Early Years.” But the Canadian singer-songwriter is already a cause to celebrate this year as the focus of Friday’s MusiCares Person of the Year benefit gala. The charity event, hosted by the Recording Academy to raise funds for musicians in need, is set to feature an array of performances by kd lang, Brandi Carlile, Chaka Khan, Cyndi Lauper and Billy Porter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2022

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