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Stop the music: The Recording Academy postpones the 2021 Grammys [UPDATE]

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Note: Originally posted on 1/5/21 @ 2:42 PM CST.

Talk about a pivot: We had only just finished talking about one Grammy category’s protest over its lack of inclusion when the Recording Academy confirmed for Variety that it plans to postpone the entire shindig due to COVID concerns. Life really comes at you fast.

Per the outlet, a source shared that the 2021 Grammys ceremony—originally slated for January 31—has been moved to sometime in March. Despite the generally unpredictable nature of the pandemic, the sudden move still comes as a bit of a surprise after multiple awards shows like the MTV VMAs and the Emmys have successfully pulled off remote events. Still, a rather potent second COVID wave (if we’re referring to this ongoing thing in “waves,” since the coronavirus never really went away) adds an even bigger obstacle, requiring much more caution than before—especially for a show that typically involves an audience of over 18,000 people.


As recently as last month, Grammys executive producer Ben Winston shared with Billboard that the show was planning to do “something special” with some unnamed independent venues, possibly in lieu of the usual Staples Center location. With expectations set early on by interim Grammys chief Harvey Mason Jr.’s comments regarding the show taking place “in and around Downtown Los Angeles,” the popular assumption was that the show would borrow elements from other similar, successful events like the VMAs and the BET Music Awards, offering highly produced performances from a number of venues remotely with a limited audience and crew at the broadcast’s central hub. That could still happen, but a surge in COVID cases in the L.A. area and a new lockdown is leading to a number of production delays throughout the various entertainment industries, complicating matters even further.


The Grammys have been entombed in controversy since last year, with allegations of misconduct from former Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan, discussions led by Tyler The Creator regarding the inherent anti-Blackness of the “urban” categories, and the saga surrounding The Weeknd’s recent unfathomable snub. All things considered, the pressure is on to deliver an event that is both safe and genuinely fun, so the Grammys should take all the time it needs to put on a quality show.

UPDATE, 1/6/21 @ 7:44 AM CST: And now we have a firm date! Per the Grammys website, the “biggest night in music” will now take place on March 14.