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Tonight’s Grammy show could be memorable, historic and infamous

Adele’s “25” was one of the few bright spots for music sales in 2015. The album, which was released in November and was not immediately available on streaming services, cracked the 5 million mark in CD sales and 2.3 million in digital sales.
Adele’s “25” was one of the few bright spots for music sales in 2015. The album, which was released in November and was not immediately available on streaming services, cracked the 5 million mark in CD sales and 2.3 million in digital sales. The Associated Press

The 58th annual Grammy Awards show airs at 7 tonight on CBS. Like recent Grammy shows, this one has lots of potential to be memorable, if not historic. Twenty performances are scheduled, including tributes to music legends who died since last year’s show. Here’s a look at five moments I’m looking forward to. Check in here during the show; I’ll be posting results and reactions.

Kendrick Lamar

One way or another, he and his “To Pimp a Butterfly” album will be the story of the 58th Grammy Awards show. He has received 11 nominations, the second most in one night in Grammy history. Michael Jackson holds the record with 12 in 1984 for “Thriller.”

In 2014, Lamar was nominated for seven Grammys for “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City”; he did not win any, tying India Arie for most nominations in one night without winning.

Lamar will not be shut out tonight. He could win or break the record of eight, held by Jackson and Santana. He has nominations in two of the big three categories: song of the year and album of the year. How he fares in those categories will define this awards show.

Among the rest of the album-of-the-year nominees, “Butterfly” bears the most lyrical gravitas and socio-political importance. It’s a brave and fearless call to action and reaction, set to music that is wildly inventive yet, for the most part, accessible.

Lamar will perform during the awards show, and it seems likely he will deliver some message, political or otherwise, that will rankle some observers, much like Beyonce did during the Super Bowl. Let’s hope the voters do the brave thing and give this album all the hardware it deserves.

The tributes

Three tributes are scheduled: to David Bowie by Lady Gaga; to Glenn Frey by Jackson Browne and the surviving Eagles; and to B.B. King by Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark Jr. and Bonnie Raitt.

During her tribute to Julie Andrews at last year’s Academy Awards and her version of the national anthem at this year’s Super Bowl, Lady Gaga, a longtime Bowie fan and devotee, proved she has the voice and charisma to do justice to any music.

The Eagles first appearance since the death of Frey ought to be emotional, especially with Browne involved. And the trio of Stapleton, Raitt and Clark ought to put on one of the night’s best performances.

The Hollywood Vampires

The supergroup tribute band includes Alice Cooper, Joe Perry of Aerosmith and actor Johnny Depp, and it honors Cooper’s former drinking buddies from back in the 1970s, many of whom died long ago, including John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, Marc Bolan and the Doors.

At the band’s debut performance at the Roxy Club in Los Angeles in September, the trio was joined by an array of rock stars, including Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath, Zak Starkey, who drums with the Who, and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine.

Lionel Richie

Because given his co-performers — Luke Bryan, John Legend, Demi Lovato and Meghan Trainor — this will either go either surprisingly well or erupt into a pile of fresh hell.

Taylor Swift

Speaking of hell, that’s what could break out if Swift’s “1989” beats “To Pimp a Butterfly” for album of the year.

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain

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