Smart ladies love awards shows, a guide for Katie to the 2016 Grammy nominees, performers and presenters


AKA, Who the fuck is that?

It has come to my attention that you, Katie, STILL cannot tell the Jonas brothers apart. And every year when we watch the Grammys, you write in our liveblog and fashion recaps that you don’t know who half the people are. I present to you: a guide to the performers, nominees and presenters that you will yell at when they come on screen.

I am pretty sure you know Kendrick Lamar, whose name we will hear a lot tonight, Ashley Monroe, the cast of Hamilton, and all indie rock nominees (Courtney Barnett, Wolf Alice, etc.), so I will skip those.

Keep this (and maybe also Wikipedia) open during the ceremony to refresh your memory when, say, Sam Hunt appears on screen.

Joey Alexander

Joey is a “jazz piano prodigy” and he’s performing tonight. I really didn’t know that there were still people that listened to piano jazz but even I can learn something from this post. Fun facts: Joey is from Indonesia and became an overnight sensation after Wynton Marsalis invited him to perform at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 2014 gala. He is nominated for two Grammys tonight, neither of which will probably be presented at the show itself.

Travis Barker

Did you know Travis Barker, the drummer for Blink-182, is also a solo performer? I don’t know what he did on this song because I couldn’t watch the whole video and his Wikipedia page makes me dizzy. But the rest of these won’t be so oblique, I promise.

James Bay

When I typed James Bay into Wikipedia, it sent me to the page for the large body of water in Canada, which does not bode well for the person James Bay. Once I played this video, I could see you calling him an American Idol contestant (not in a good way). He is essentially the British John Mayer, which the world did not need.

Leon Bridges

You may have heard of adorable Texan Leon Bridges, as I have posted about him before, but I wanted to remind you that you would probably like him.

Luke Bryan

I know you know Luke Bryan because he has been hosting the Academy of Country Music Awards since 2013 with Blake Shelton. We always put he and his wife in our fashion recaps of country awards shows, and I think he’s the inspiration for Luke on Nashville. Mostly I included him because I wanted you to hear this terrible song, which I was briefly obsessed with for a week last year.


Cam’s full name is Camaron Marvel Ochs, but sadly she is not related to the guy who wrote, “Love Me, I’m a Liberal.” Her full-length record, Untamed, was released too late to be considered in any categories, but she’s nominated for the single, “Burning House,” and she will also be presenting. You two have something in common: a love of both the Dixie Chicks and the Indigo Girls.

She is also very smart (she worked in a psychology lab prior to pursuing music) and because she’s from California’s Bay Area, she’s a little bit different than other country stars. I can’t seem to find much gossip on her, though that could be because her name is hard to Google and she’s an actual grown-up. I’m now a Cam Fan.

Gary Clark, Jr.

Gary Clark Jr. is an extremely talented guitar player and musician, but please don’t compare him to John Mayer too–he’s so much better. He was in the Dave Grohl documentary Sonic Highways and I got to see him at the big Foo Fighters show at RFK last summer.

Andra Day

When I told you I was doing this post, I listed all the people I was going to write about and you texted back, “I think Andra Day was in the Stevie Wonder Christmas commercial.” I remain impressed because I never remember this woman’s name, but her list of credits is impressive and I LOVE this video. Her voice has a gritty Amy Winehouse quality to it that I really like. Fun fact: her record was co-produced by Raphael Saadiq.

Sam Hunt

Sam is nominated for Best New Artist this year, which is a pretty big deal for a dude I had not heard of until he performed on a country awards show. I wish I could watch this for the first time with you because it’s everything we hate about contemporary country music (why is there so much talking? why does the chorus remind me of Usher with a twang and is that a thing now?). Besides being dreamy, though, Sam has other talents: he’s written several hit songs for other artists and he played football so well in college that he was invited to train with the Kansas City Chiefs.


I think you’ll like (or at least not hate) Jeremiah’s modern R&B. Fun fact: In 2009, he performed on One Life to Live with Lionel Richie, which is probably WAY more exciting than being nominated for Best R&B Performance for “Planez.”

Hiatus Kaiyote

This band is from Australia and they play something called “future soul,” a genre Janelle Monae is apparently a part of, but I can at least get through her videos without falling asleep. This is really not my thing and I doubt it will be yours.

Tori Kelly

You might remember Tori from this season of American Idol, because they are taking credit for her success, even though she did not even make it to the top 24. You might also remember Tori from movie theaters, where this song was played before every movie for three months. She is nominated for Best New Artist AND she’s performing with your new boyfriend James Bay.

Elle King

You might have heard this song at the grocery story or something. Her first EP was on Fat Possum, who released records by The Walkmen, Wavves, Andrew Bird, and The Black Keys. “Ex’s and Oh’s” is one of the better non-R&B radio songs of the past few years. Elle decided to be a musician after hearing The Donnas for the first time.

Guess who her dad is, Katie? Just guess. You will never figure it out.
Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo himself. Her mom is a former model.


Lianne La Havas

And the award for the best outfits in a video goes to… Lianne is British and previously sang back up for Paloma Faith, whose music I have never heard, but she seems to show up on every red carpet. She opened up for Bon Iver in 2011 and was even nominated for the Mercury Prize the next year for her first record, Is Your Love Big Enough? Her current LP, Blood, is up for Best Contemporary R&B album and it’s really great.

Charlie Puth

I have been seeing Charlie’s name a lot, so I was looking forward to researching him and telling you more about him. And then I played “Marvin Gaye,” and I decidedly became a lot less excited. Strangely enough, all his Grammy nominations are for this song with Wiz Khalifa from the soundtrack to Furious 7:

Because he recorded a duet with Selena Gomez, there are rumors that they are dating. England seems to be particularly interested in his love life, which leads me to believe he is more popular abroad. He also seems kind of fun.


You might know Skrillex for his haircut:

But he’s a producer, who I have learned is more famous than I thought. His videos have hundreds of millions of views on You Tube.

He’s performing with Diplo tonight–they have a duo, Jack Ü–who I was also going to write about but his name is on so many Beyonce songs so I figured you know him. Fun fact: Skrillex used to be in a hardcore band.

Chris Stapleton

Since it’s likely that Chris Stapleton is going to win a lot of awards, you should get familiar. Obviously he has an awesome beard. Like Sam Hunt, he began as a songwriter and released his first album, Traveller, last year. I first heard of him at the CMAs when he brought the house down with Justin Timberlake. He doesn’t have any real videos on You Tube, which I respect, so I included his recent performance on SNL here. His cute wife Morgene sings back up!

Jazmine Sullivan

After announcing via Twitter in 2011 that she was indefinitely leaving the music industry, Jazmine decided she couldn’t stay gone, and her latest record, the critically acclaimed Reality Show, is nominated for a lot of Grammys. You will probably remember her from this song, which was a popular choice at American Idol’s Hollywood Week a few years ago:

Meghan Trainor

I am including Meghan because you never know who she is in fashion recaps, but I think that might have changed with the world’s insistence on putting her face in every commercial for a whole year. I really thought she was a one-hit wonder, but she extended her fame via marketing, collaborating with John Legend, getting on the Peanuts soundtrack, and singing on Charlie Puth’s “Marvin Gaye” (see above). She probably has a really good management team. Don’t read her thoughts on the lyrics of “All About That Bass.” You will want to punch her.

Charlie Wilson

I had to look Charlie up, and when I announced he was the former lead singer of the Gap Band, PJ sang to me, “old dude making a comeback” and he’s sort of right–Charlie has been putting out solo records continuously since 2000. Snoop Dogg, who is good friends with the singer, calls him Uncle Charlie (also the name of his 2009 record). Isn’t that charming? The names of the the three records he released after that: Just Charlie; Love, Charlie; and Forever, Charlie. He also sang on Kanye’s “Bound 2.” Anyway, he’s been nominated for lots of awards over his career, including two Grammys this year.

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