After leaving a job they’ve had for seven years, most people would relax and take some well-deserved time off. But if you’re Trevor Noah, you jump right back into the spotlight by hosting the biggest night in music for the third year in a row.
The former host of The Daily Show is set to emcee the 65th Annual Grammy Awards live on CBS on Sunday, Feb. 5. He and executive producer Ben Winston took time away from preparations to talk to The Root about putting this year’s event together and how Noah approaches hosting the award show.
“I think there are few engagements that I wouldn’t want to miss more than the Grammys. How many rooms can you say you get to go to where you’re going to be in the presence of literally music royalty?,” Noah told The Root. “Everybody from Beyoncé and Jay Z, to Brandi Carlile, Lizzo, Bad Bunny, ABBA. You just look at the list of nominees, I’m ecstatic. All I have to focus on is remembering what I’m there to do, because I might fan out too much and the whole show comes crumbling down. But I’ll practice.”
One of the great things about Trevor is that when he does these big shows, he always keeps the proceedings positive. It’s fun and hilarious, but it’s never mean-spirited. For some reason, that’s a rare quality when it comes to awards show hosts. His stand up expertise also makes him adept at balancing his prepared material with what’s happening on the live broadcast.
“At the end of the day I’m still there and it’s still happening live. It’s never going to be an instance where I’m ignoring something that’s happening,” Noah said. “The great thing about the show is I still get to tell jokes, I still get to comment on what’s happening, I still get to have a good time with the audience. It’s an award show. The name says it all.”
He continued, “In that vein, I’m aware of a few things. One, there are multiple genres, multiple groups of people watching, everyone watching around the world, people watching in different languages. I’m cognizant of the fact that it is a celebration, so I’m not there to undo the celebration. If anything, I’m trying to contribute to it. It also helps that I’m a fan of so many people performing. So when I think of myself watching the show, and then also presenting the show, I think what would I like the show to be.”
The Grammys are the most expansive awards show of the bunch. It literally gives out honors for every aspect of the music industry. There are 91 categories across a wide range of genres. With performances from Mary J. Blige, Lizzo, Steve Lacy, Harry Styles and Bad Bunny, as well as the surprise appearances the show has become known for, the Grammys always lead to some unforgettable moments. Winston has to navigate the delicate job of making sure as many genres as possible are represented.
“That is always a tightrope walking out. We always want to make sure that no genre is entirely left out. It’s impossible in a way to please everybody. I’m always aware of that,” Winston said. “The first year we did it together, there were four country performances on air. This year I don’t think there’ll be as many as that. It just depends on the year, the space, the nominees and who’s available. It’s a real juggling act because it’s three and a half hours of live TV where you’ve got a lot to get through and a lot of big performances to showcase. Hopefully, we’ll succeed in being balanced so that the genres feel looked after.”
Trevor didn’t reveal any secret plans for the event, but perhaps a hint for something fun can be found in his current karaoke favorite.
“I think for now it’s ‘Cuff It,’” the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever actor said. “I don’t even think it’s a guilty pleasure because I’m not guilty. I’m just in the mood so I just sing the song.”
Winston added that it’s actually the dancing that the host loves, so maybe there’s a chance we could see Trevor getting his Beyoncé on during the show. She leads all nominees, so she’ll definitely be the talk of the night.
The 65th Annual Grammy Awards air live Sunday, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS and Paramount+.