Grammys postpone January awards show amid omicron surge

Call it, as Olivia Rodrigo might say, “deja vu.”

For the second year in a row, the Grammys are being postponed because of rising COVID-19 cases.

On Wednesday, the Recording Academy announced that the 64th annual ceremony, planned for Jan. 31 at Arena (formerly Staples Center) in Los Angeles, will move to a yet-to-be-determined date. 

"After careful consideration and analysis with city and state officials, health and safety experts, the artist community and our many partners, the Recording Academy and CBS have postponed the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards Show," said the academy in a statement. "The health and safety of those in our music community, the live audience, and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly to produce our show remains our top priority. Given the uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant, holding the show on January 31 simply contains too many risks. We look forward to celebrating Music's Biggest Night on a future date, which will be announced soon." 

The omicron variant of the coronavirus has led to a significant rise in cases in the L.A. area. Coronavirus patients hospitalized in Los Angeles County tallied 1,994 on Sunday, an increase of 121% from the number registered on Christmas Day. On Jan. 1, the county also surpassed its peak of COVID-19 hospitalizations last summer, when 1,792 infected patients were in hospitals, according to the L.A. County Department of Health Services. 

Last year’s Grammys were also bumped – from Jan. 31 to March 14 – after a spike in COVID-19 cases. At that time, the show was relocated to the much smaller Los Angeles Convention Center, which shares a footprint with the arena. No fans attended the production, which took place indoors and outside the convention center.

Jon Batiste, shown performing at the Global Citizen festival in September 2021 in New York, leads the 2022 Grammy nominations with 11.

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Trevor Noah, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” piloted the 2021 edition of the show and has been tapped to reprise his role this year.

The postponement probably will affect other Grammy Week events, including the MusiCares Person of the Year gala, which had been set for Jan. 29 at the Los Angeles Convention Center with honoree Joni Mitchell, and Clive Davis’ storied Pre-Grammy Gala, scheduled for Jan. 30 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.

This year’s Grammy nominations are led by jazz/R&B musician Jon Batiste, best known as the bandleader on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” with 11 nominations.

He’s followed by Justin Bieber, H.E.R. and Doja Cat, all of whom scored eight nominations. Billie Eilish and Rodrigo, who each earned seven nods, will compete against each other for album, song and record of the year.

The Recording Academy made a concerted effort this year to amplify the variations of its membership. About 2,700 new music creators were invited to join, including an increased number of female, Black and Hispanic recruits. 

"We're doing (these changes) with the goal of improving everything we're doing at the academy, which is thereby helping the music industry," Mason says. "I think it's heading in a great direction. (But) we all agree we have more work to do. We're not resting, we're not stopping."