At tonight's Grammy Awards, the stage is set for a battle between generations. Reuniting for their 30-year anniversary, the Police are giving a hotly anticipated opening performance, but they may have to fight it out with young new artists vying for recognition.
Although they won five Grammys and rank among Rolling Stone's top 100 artists of all time, tonight's performance at the Staples Center in Los Angeles marks the first time the Police have performed at a Grammys ceremony.
"This is a historic moment," said Josh Jackson, editor of Paste, a music and entertainment magazine. "When you sit around with music critics, everybody talks about how they loved the Police."
Those critics might soon get to stop speaking in the past tense. It seems the Grammys are just the opening act for the Police. The next day, the "Roxanne" and "Every Breath You Take" performers will hold a press conference which, according to industry insiders, will kick off a new tour.
The Police broke up more than 20 years ago and have performed only a handful of times since, which is leading to speculation that this reunion will be just as short-lived.
"Everyone wants to see if they're going to get in a fight in the first five seconds and call the whole thing off," said Amrit Singh, editor of the music and gossip blog StereoGum.com.
But the real fight is more likely to occur in the Grammy's New Artist category, where "American Idol" winner Carrie Underwood takes on popular British performer James Blunt, indie songstress Imogen Heap, soul singer Corinne Bailey Rae and young R&B star Chris Brown.
"James Blunt is probably going to take it," Singh said, disappointed. "I think for every Norah Jones or Crosby, Stills and Nash there's a Hootie and the Blowfish and Milli Vanilli."
Although Singh is convinced it will be Blunt, whose music he says belongs "in a doctor's office waiting room," Jackson had a different take.
"Corinne Bailey Rae just sort of came out of nowhere this year. This time last year she was playing a showcase in Austin in the upstairs of a hotel room," he said. "I was pleasantly surprised to see Imogen Heap. It was a unique choice for the Grammys."
But when it came time to handicap a winner, Jackson went with "American Idol" voters.
"I would be surprised if it wasn't Carrie Underwood," he said.
Underwood, Rae and Brown will all take the stage after the Police warm up the crowd, along with a long list of the biggest names in music. Among the performers are nominees Mary J. Blige, the Dixie Chicks, Gnarls Barkley, Beyonce, Shakira, Ludacris and Justin Timberlake.
Singh says Timberlake is the one to watch out for.
"If there is any single artist you can attribute 2006 to, it's JT," he said. "He's a really impressive dude."
With headliners galore, it's a wonder who could host such a show. The answer: no one. The Grammys will let the music speak for itself.