KEXP Listener’s Guide to the Grammys

James Blake // photo by Victoria Holt

When the music industry rolls out the red carpet this Sunday, January 26, for the 56th Grammy Awards, you’re going to want to walk along. But don’t just trust us. See, and hear, for yourself who’s worth seeing and hearing with our KEXP Listener’s Guide to the Grammys.

Live Performances:

As you would expect from a popular music awards show, there are a lot of bands and artists who don’t fall exactly within or are only loosely associated with KEXP’s playlists. This year’s host, LL Cool J, is no exception. Hopefully, you can forget that he collaborated with Brad Paisley on “Accidental Racist” and remember his 1990 hit “Mama Said Knock You Out”, which KEXP DJs tend to drop from time to time. But the live highlight, to be sure, will be French dance rock duo Daft Punk, nominated for four awards, including album and record of the year, who have yet to perform their 2013 anywhere. And they’re slated to collaborate onstage with 25-time Grammy winner Stevie Wonder, Nile Rodgers of Chic, and rapper/producer Pharrell Williams. It’s going to be huge!

Vying for the spectacle of the night, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will perform “The Night That Changed America: A Grammys Salute to The Beatles”. You can expect others, like Alicia Keys, John Legend and a reunited Eurythmics to join in.

Team-ups are par for the Grammys, and they can range from fascinating trainwreck to pre-scheduled bathroom breaks. But sometimes a KEXP favorite might make an otherwise unlistenable performance interesting. We’d guess that Robin Thicke with Chicago will call for a timeout, while Kendrick Lamar should make Imagine Dragons more manageable. Living legends Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson should fare well with current country star (and The Voice personality) Blake Shelton. Metallica with classical pianist Lang Lang could go either way. Hopefully, the massive finale featuring Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl, and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham will leave the ceremony a twisted pile of smoking metal.

Hometown favorites Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, up for album of the year, among seven awards including best song for ‚ÄúSame Love”, never disappoint with their live performances and might outshine them all. Austin blues musician Gary Clark, Jr., a recent guest on KEXP, will make his Grammy debut, and young New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde has a bit of cross-over appeal.


Each year, there seem to be more and more alternative artists selected for various award categories, but none represents KEXP listeners’ favorites like the Best Alternative Music Album nominees. Neko Case, The National, Vampire Weekend, Tame Impala, and Nine Inch Nails all ranked highly on KEXP’s own Top Albums of 2013 countdown.

Some KEXP favorites are up for big awards. The Album of the Year category nominees include three who are each nominated for a variety of other categories: Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Vying for for Best Rock Performance are three others: Alabama Shakes, Queens Of The Stone Age and Jack White. Mary Lambert joins Ben Haggerty, a.k.a. Macklemore, & Ryan Lewis for a nomination of “Same Love” as Song of the Year. Disclosure is up against Daft Punk for Best Dance/Electronica Album, and David Bowie might outclass Queens Of The Stone Age, Neil Young, Led Zeppelin and Kings of Leon for Best Rock Album.

Other KEXP favorite artists are spread across a variety of award categories: Gary Clark Jr. for Best Traditional R&B Performance, Brian Eno for Best New Age Album, Los Amigos Invisibles for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album, Steve Earle and Allan Toussaint both up for Best American Roots Song, Mavis Staples for Best Americana Album, Hot 8 Brass Band for Best Regional Roots Music Album, and Femi Kuti for Best World Music Album.

With so many first time Grammy performances and fantastic KEXP family nominees, you won’t want to miss the show! Here are a few videos shot in our own studio of some 2014 Grammy nominees:

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song, Best Music Video:

Mary Lambert – Song of the Year for “Same Love”:

James Blake – Best New Artist:

Alabama Shakes – Best Rock Performance:

Steve Earle – Best American Roots Song for “Invisible”:

Gary Clarke Jr. – Best Rock Song for “Ain’t Messing Round”:

Los Amigos Invisibles – Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album:

Femi Kuti – Best World Music Album:

On Sunday, January 26th, join KEXP DJ John Richards and the music staff of The Seattle Times at 7:00 PM for a live chat of the 2014 Grammys! Follow the conversation at

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