The music world gathered today for the Grammys with the top awards a choice between a new, edgier Beyonce and the time-tested heartache ballads of Adele.
The televised bash from Los Angeles, which kicked off at 5pm (0100 GMT, 4am Qatar time today), could also have political fireworks as many artists are outspoken critics of US President Donald Trump.
But the enduring picture from the Grammys may turn out to be Beyonce, who is expected to make her first public appearance since revealing that she is pregnant with twins.
Beyonce leads the Grammys with nine nominations and could win the most prestigious awards for the first time – Album of the Year for Lemonade and Record of the Year for her song Formation.
Lemonade, which Beyonce intertwined with a film, marked a new direction for the pop superstar as she dabbled in hip-hop, hard rock and even country.
Formation was the most politically upfront song of Beyonce’s career with a video rallying behind the Black Lives Matter movement, including an image of police officers surrendering as if under arrest.
Throughout Lemonade, Beyonce directed herself to an audience of fellow African American women with themes of resilience.
In the film, she strongly suggested that her husband, rapper Jay Z, had been unfaithful but Beyonce by the end forgave him.
Beyonce faces competition in the main categories from Adele, who proved her enduring, massive commercial popularity by sticking to her style of wrenching ballads.
The English singer is nominated for her ubiquitous song Hello and her album 25, which has been the world’s top-seller since her 21, which also triumphed at the Grammys.
Adele is scheduled to sing at the Grammys – a year after her performance was marred by a falling microphone, which hit the piano and caused her voice to veer jarringly out of tune.
Other artists who stand a chance to win the most Grammys include Toronto rapper Drake, R&B superstar Rihanna and the hip-hop celebrity fixture Kanye West.
Drake has been nominated for Views, his blockbuster collection of dance-ready tracks, and for Work, his lusty collaboration with Rihanna.
Dark horses for Album of the Year include A Sailor’s Guide to Earth by Sturgill Simpson, who has given some intellectual heft to country music through lyricism inspired by Buddhist philosophy.
Justin Bieber was nominated for Purpose, in a surprise nod for the Canadian singer often more associated with tabloid exploits.
Chance the Rapper, 23, is a favourite to win Best New Artist amid acclaim for his gospel-infused hip-hop.
The Chicago artist benefited from updated rules that consider streaming exclusives.
The Grammys will feature tributes to two pop icons who died in the past year – Prince and George Michael.
The performance is expected to herald the arrival of Prince, who battled the music industry for much of his career, to major streaming services following deals with his estate.
Katy Perry, back from a short hiatus in which she recorded new music, will use the global television platform to perform Chained to the Rhythm, her retro disco-inspired new single.
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