The Grammys’ development is ongoing, according to ceremony executive producer Ben Winston, who took over the show last year from Ken Ehrlich, the show’s mastermind for over 40 years. Winston and Raj Kapoor, the show’s executive producer and showrunner, have joined the latest episode of our Rolling Stone music now Podcast to dive behind the scenes of this year’s ceremony, address critiques and more.
bts almost didn’t perform – and were only able to rehearse as a full group the day before the ceremony.
“There were times when we worried that they might not be here,” says Winston. “J-Hope had Covid and was quarantined. And he wasn’t allowed to fly until Saturday, the day before the show Jungkook was in Vegas with Covid but then he wasn’t allowed to come unless he got two negative tests. It was very tense. We were very nervous… I was really so excited about this one, not because it was better than everyone else but just because I knew what those seven guys had gone through to get it to this level… I think those guys are incredibly talented. I’m kind of impressed with what they do every time.”
Not enough rap performances this year? The producers agree.
“We would have liked a little more hip-hop,” says Winston, while pointing to the numerous rap performances at last year’s ceremony as a testament to his goals for the show. “We won’t always get exactly the quota we want. We always try. It was definitely not a conscious decision to just have By doing as a hip hop performance… We lost a few artists [show’s] Moved from LA to Vegas. So, you know, shit happens. We did our best.”
The beeping during Justin Bieber‘s set was because he was supposed to censor his lyrics himself and didn’t.
“I think he was probably just upset at the moment and forgot not to say the word ‘shit,'” says Winston. “I don’t think there is more than that.”
The rain during Billie Eilish‘s set was fake for purely practical reasons.
“Ultimately it was decided that Billie and Finneas didn’t want to get physically wet,” says Kapoor. “Because she wanted to sit and enjoy the rest of the evening without really taking a lot of time to go back into glamour. So we came up with this really amazing digital effect.”
Producers apologize for “in memoriam” omissions contained Drakeo the rulerParliament-Funkadelic’s Calvin Simon and Slipknot’s Joey Jordison – and address the lack of any mention of the victims of December’s Astroworld crowds.
“Anyone who feels left out or almost snubbed by an In Memoriam, I think all I can do is apologize from the bottom of their hearts, because we go on this show to bring joy and love to people through music,” says Winston, noting that the academy, not the show’s producers, is making the roster. “As for the Astroworld casualties, I think that’s a really fair point. I think, you know, maybe we should have done something.”
With a new head of the Recording Academy (Harvey Mason Jr.), various procedural changes and a new production company behind the ceremony, producers are trying to convince artists struggling with the Grammys that massive changes have already taken place.
“I’ve met artists on this journey over the last few years and they said, ‘Well, the Grammys did this and the Grammys did that, and it’s time for that to change,'” says Winston. “And I think, yes, yes! That is why I am [sitting] here. We can do that, be part of the change, instead of just being angry about what came before.”
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