The Week In Pop

There’s Only One Way To Find Out If The Grammys Will Suck Again This Year

Remember last year when it seemed like the Grammys might turn out OK and then they sucked as usual? They will probably suck again this year! But damn, NARAS does a good job of getting my hopes up every winter. For 2017 they’ve given us just enough intriguing performers and eyebrow-raising nominations to coax me into wondering if maybe, just maybe I will walk away from my Sunday night watching CBS feeling something other than vaguely nauseated disinterest. Beyond fulfilling my professional obligation as a Pop Music Columnist, it almost certainly will be a profound waste of my time. Except: Chance The Rapper is performing!

Have you seen Chance The Rapper perform on television? It is a magical experience to be treasured for the rest of your life. Every time the man steps on screen he stirs up childlike joy in my soul. He takes every such appearance seriously, as if he realizes the full weight of the opportunity and is fully capable of stepping up to it. He is happy to be there, every time. And since he’s been publicly angling for an invite to the Grammys for at least a year now, you know he’s going to seize the moment. That’s why I’m labeling him Most Likely To Bring Down The House. Read on for more predictive superlatives regarding awards and performances alike and decide whether you’re resigning yourself to watch music’s most prestigious shitshow yet again.

Most Likely To Lose Best New Artist Even After Bringing Down The House: Chance The Rapper. OK, it’s cool that Chance got a Best New Artist nod, but the Grammys have only given that award to an indie consensus musician once in recent memory (Bon Iver in 2012), and even if they bypass commercial behemoths the Chainsmokers, Maren Morris, and Kelsea Ballerini this year, my money is on Anderson .Paak as the more likely “cool” pick. Speaking of which…

Most Genuinely Intriguing Performance: A Tribe Called Quest and Anderson .Paak. How awesome could this be? It could be extremely awesome, considering how Tribe commanded the SNL stage and how reliably dazzling Paak has proven to be in any live performance context. And he’s already proven that he can do wonders in tandem with ’90s hip-hop legends with his star-making appearances on Dr. Dre’s Compton, so this collaboration might end up so high it’ll never come down.

Most Terrifyingly Intriguing Performance: Metallica and Lady Gaga. This could be awesome, or it could be the next Lulu. There’s really no middle ground.

Most Likely To Perform While Pregnant With Twins: Beyoncé. There are reports of a giant video display and guest stars, so you can be sure that Bey is prepared to make this at least as much of a spectacle as her baby bump reveal at the 2011 VMAs.

Most Likely To Lose Album Of The Year While Pregnant With Twins: Beyoncé. With all due respect to Adele (whose 25 will probably win) and Sturgill Simpson (whose A Sailor’s Guide To Earth could easily be this year’s Morning Phase), Lemonade is obviously the most deserving choice for Album Of The Year. (No respect is due to Drake and Justin Bieber, whose albums were just OK and whose actual reason for skipping the ceremony is probably that they know they aren’t going to win.) The chances of Lemonade actually winning seem pretty slim, though, as long as the aforementioned Grammy-beloved Adele and Grammy-anointed Simpson are in the picture.

Most Likely To Impress Your Parents: Sturgill Simpson. Whether or not he walks away with Album Of The Year, the country iconoclast is going to earn himself a whole lot of new fans if he brings the same kind of fire he brought to SNL. If not Stadium Status, he’ll at least achieve Stapleton Status.

Most Likely To Not Even Be Broadcast Even Though The New York Times Published A Whole Feature About How Weird It Is: The award for Best Rock Performance. Yes, Best Rock Performance pits Alabama Shakes vs. Beyoncé and Jack White vs. David Bowie vs. Disturbed covering Simon & Garfunkel live on Conan vs. Twenty One Pilots, and yes, that is weird, and no, they probably won’t even hand it out during the televised portion of the ceremony.

Most Likely To Do A Really Good Job With The Prince Tribute: Bruno Mars. You’ve seen the “Uptown Funk!” video, right?

Most Likely To Enact A Truly Puzzling Bee Gees Tribute In Honor Of Saturday Night Fever’s 40th Anniversary: Demi Lovato, Tori Kelly, and Andra Day. At least they didn’t call up Fallon and Timberlake?

Most Likely To Make You Wish They’d Called Up Fallon And Timberlake: James Corden. The human viral content factory was a lock to host this event, given that the grandparent-friendly Grammys have long been affiliated with grandparent-friendly CBS. It’s the same reason LL Cool J ended up hosting for so many years before Corden ascended to ubiquity, and it’s why corny Corden will probably be hosting the Grammys for many more years as long as he doesn’t faceplant this Sunday.

Most Likely To Piss You Off By Beating Beyoncé, Rihanna, And Adele For Record Of The Year: Lukas Graham’s “7 Years.” But don’t rule out Twenty One Pilots pissing you off by winning this category instead!

Most Likely To Also Win Song Of The Year, Which Yes, For The Last Time, Is Different From Record Of The Year: Lukas Graham’s “7 Years.” I’ve just got a feeling that this song will tickle the Grammy voters in all the right places. And in case you’re still mixing this up, Record Of The Year honors the recorded version of a song while Song Of The Year is a songwriting award.

Most Likely To Perform With A Giant Disco Ball: Katy Perry. Marketing is fun and easy.

Most Likely To Still Have Us Wondering “What’s The Deal?” At Press Time: The George Michael tribute. Still no performers announced for this one yet, so… what’s the deal?

Most Likely To Make You Wonder “How Can That Old Song Possibly Be Eligible This Year?” And Then Win A Grammy: Drake’s “Hotline Bling.” And the award for Best Rap/Sung Performance goes to… Drake featuring Drake!

Most Likely To Deliver A Frankly Underwhelming Performance: The Weeknd and Daft Punk. It’s cool that these two acts have become Grammy darlings and all, but is anybody actually excited to see Abel Tesfaye sing some songs with robots standing behind him? Put the robots on the mics and Tesfaye on the 1s and 2s and then you’d have my attention.

Most Likely To Not Endure Another Major Microphone Mishap This Year Lest Somebody From The Grammys Production Unit Suffer A Horrible “Accident” Later This Week: Adele. Don’t let this woman’s pleasantly flippant demeanor fool you.

Most Likely To Beat David Bowie For Best Alternative Album, Best Rock Song, Best Rock Performance, And Best Recording Package: Nobody. Nobody’s beating Bowie.

Most Likely To Somehow Make Himself The Star Of The Show Without Even Showing Up: Kanye West. Is there even any question?

See y’all in hell this Sunday!

CHART WATCH

At least Atlanta won something this week. Undeterred by their beloved Falcons’ Super Bowl collapse, Migos matched their first #1 single with their first #1 album this week. Culture debuts on top with 131,000 equivalent units, 77,000 of them derived from streaming. As Billboard reports, it’s a massive leap from the #17 peak of 2015’s Yung Rich Nation, though Culture technically is not the best selling album of the week.

That’s Brantley Gilbert’s The Devil Don’t Sleep, which enters the Billboard 200 at #2 with 77,000 units but tops the album sales chart with 66,000 in actual sales. Next up is Kehlani’s SweetSexySavage at #3 with 58,000 units/32,000 sales. After the Weeknd’s Starboy at #4 comes another debut, Now 61, which starts at #5 with 37,000 units, all from sales. Following the La La Land soundtrack (#6) and Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic (#7) comes the week’s fifth and final top-10 debut: Train’s A Girl A Bottle A Boat notches 30,000 units/23,000 sales to start at #8. Post Malone’s Stoney and the Moana soundtrack round out the top 10.

Migos may have topped the albums chart, but they once again cede control of the Hot 100 singles chart to Ed Sheeran. “Shape Of You” returns to #1 this week, knocking Migos and Lil Uzi Vert’s “Bad And Boujee” to #2 after three nonconsecutive weeks on top. But the bigger news is actually at #3, where Taylor Swift and Zayn’s “I Don’t Want To Live Forever” soars to a new peak on the strength of two new videos spotlighting each artist individually. Last week, when The Week In Pop was on vacation, the track’s official video helped it rise to #5. Also last week, Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello’s “Bad Things” reached a new high of #4, where it remains this week.

After the Chainsmokers and Halsey’s “Closer” hanging in there at #5 after 25 weeks on the chart, Maroon 5 and Kendrick Lamar’s “Don’t Wanna Know” climbs to a new peak of #6. Rounding out the top 10 are the Weeknd’s “Starboy” (#7), Drake’s “Fake Love” (#8, a new peak), Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane’s “Black Beatles” (#9), and Alessia Cara’s “Scars To Your Beautiful” (holding steady at its #10 peak).

POP FIVE

Mariah Carey – “I Don’t” (Feat. YG)
In terms of capturing the public imagination, I am not sure whether interpolating Donell Jones’ glorious “Where I Wanna Be” and duetting with YG is the best way to capitalize on Mariah’s post-NYE publicity surge, but I am 100 percent here for it.

Martin Garrix & Dua Lipa – “Scared To Be Lonely”
Dua Lipa positioned herself for stardom in 2016, and I have a feeling this song is going to finish the job thanks to a bravura vocal performance and the best pop production of Garrix’s career.

Twenty One Pilots – “Heavydirtysoul”
Whether or not you like this band, you have to admit it takes a certain kind of schizophrenic genius to seamlessly segue from a clenched-fist Linkin Park nu-metal verse to a euphoric pop-house chorus. The late ’90s were a weird time for music, and they’re even weirder when stitched together like so.

Bibi Bourelly – “Ballin”
You ever feel like a song is totally lame yet you also really, really enjoy it? That’s how this one feels from the “I got fired from Old Navy” intro to the part about dancing with hipsters in Brooklyn warehouses. The sarcastically titled “Ballin” is all over the radio already, and now that the video is out in the world, it’s only a matter of time before Bourelly crosses over from a struggle pop star to an actual pop star.

Ariana Grande & John Legend – “Beauty And The Beast”
You don’t even really need to press play to know what you’re getting here. Like everything else involved with the live-action Beauty And The Beast remake, this is money in the bank for Mickey Mouse.

NEWS IN BRIEF

  • Nicki Minaj has now passed Taylor Swift for the second-most Hot 100 hits by a woman, with 71. Aretha Franklin has the most at 73. [Billboard]
  • Meanwhile, Minaj accused Giuseppe Zanotti of racism for not collaborating with her on a shoe line. [Pitchfork]
  • Justin Bieber showed off his hockey skills in the 2017 NHL All-Star Celebrity Shootout. [Toronto Sun]
  • Also on NHL All-Star Weekend, Snoop Dogg opened the televised skills competition with an uncensored version of “The Next Episode.” He latered tweeted, “My bad.” [Hot New Hip Hop]
  • Ed Sheeran addressed social media pushback to his very cocky GQ interview: “You should never hide your goals or ambitions, be proud of what you do.” [Hollywood Life]
  • John Mayer announced The Search For Everything World Tour. [John Mayer]
  • The Chainsmokers confirmed their debut album is coming, and Chris Martin is excited. [Twitter]
  • Lady Gaga, Sia, Frank Ocean, Tegan And Sara, Blood Orange, and Against Me! are nominated for GLAAD Awards. [GLAAD]
  • Pharrell Williams and wife Helen Lasichanh welcomed triplets. [People]
  • Halsey announced her new album’s out in June. [Direct Lyrics]
  • Zedd, Skrillex, Halsey, Daya, Imagine Dragons, Macklemore, Tinashe, and others will play an ACLU benefit in LA on 4/3. [Twitter]
  • Katy Perry is creating a shoe line. [Instagram]
  • Coldplay released a short film promoting refugee aid agency Migrant Offshore Aid Station. [The Guardian]
  • Zedd announced his Alessia Cara collab “Stay” in a commercial during her SNL episode. It’s out 2/24. [Twitter]
  • Before that, Cara impersonated Lorde and Ariana Grande on The Tonight Show’s Wheel Of Musical Impressions game. [YouTube]
  • Lady Gaga is reportedly looking to launch a wine brand named after her Joanne bonus track “Grigio Girls.” [TMZ]
  • Lady Antebellum would like Taylor Swift to write a song for them, too. [AP]
  • John Legend announced his Darkness And Light Tour. [Rolling Stone]
  • The new Incubus album has a collaboration with Skrillex because of course it does. [KROQ]
  • Despite her earlier dismissal of the news, it does appear Madonna is adopting two more children from Malawi. She apparently faced some “uncomfortable questions” by the adoption judge, though. [NYT]
  • Tom Hiddleston explains the infamous “I ♥ T.S.” tank-top he wore on vacation with Taylor Swift last summer: It was an inside joke. [Vulture]
  • Jackson family matriarch Katherine Jackson filed a restraining order against her nephew Trent, claiming elder abuse. [TMZ]
  • Jason Derulo’s “Swa-La” (featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign) is coming 3/4. [Josep]
  • Derulo also slammed American Airlines over an alleged racial discrimination incident. [People]
  • Lana Del Rey has inspired a comic anthology called Baroque Pop. [Bleeding Cool]
  • And in other Lana Del Rey news, here she is putting on makeup and whistling to a John Lennon song. [Instagram]

HOLD ON, WE’RE GOING HOME