Ariana Grande, The Weeknd to open 2021 iHeartRadio Music Awards
Members of the coronavirus-compliant audience will also include first responders and frontline workers
Ariana Grande is set to make her first on-stage appearance as a married woman when she joins The Weeknd to open the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Awards live from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Thursday night.
Last year, FOX presented at-home viewers with the iHeart Living Room Concert for America and offered fans a unique glimpse into the homes of some of their favorite artists.
In addition to attracting nearly 9 million viewers across FOX television properties, the showcase also raised more than $8 million for coronavirus relief.
This year is a "return to live shows" and fans will want to tune in sharp as the awards, hosted by Usher, will see a cold open from newlywed Grande and The Weeknd when the pair perform a remix to their hit record, "Save Your Tears."
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The showing will be Grande’s first television appearance in nearly two years.
iHeartMedia president of entertainment enterprises, John Sykes spoke with Fox News from Dolby Theatre dress rehearsals and the executive, who is also heavily involved with artist inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, touted the infectious enthusiasm and energy felt between audience members and scheduled talent that he said has artists more than ready to get back on the road.
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"Usher said to me, 'I’ve been touring for 20 years and I forgot this energy that this audience has. I forgot why I do this on stage. God, I can't wait to go on tour,'" said Sykes, adding, "I think what you'll see tomorrow night is the reconnection between fans and artists."
Members of the coronavirus-compliant audience will also include first responders and frontline workers and Sykes said was a paramount decision to honor these first responders and medical workers.
"Without them, we wouldn't be here today and we wouldn’t have this show," he explained. "It was their bravery, their commitment to help people that allowed us to pull out of this pandemic and return to normal life so we figured the least we could do is invite them to come be part of this celebration of the reopening of music in our country."
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Other featured performances include the likes of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak (AKA Silk Sonic), Dan + Shay and Doja Cat. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, Roddy Ricch, twenty one pilots and Megan Thee Stallion are also slated to appear during the show.
"We actually will have a full vaccinated audience of all fans alike in the room and they're all mixed together and they will see the return to live," Sykes raved of the production. "That's actually what tomorrow is – a return to live – and if you've missed live music for the last 16 months, it's going to be there tomorrow night on FOX."
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Chris Martin and Lil Nas X will also present Elton John with the 2021 iHeartRadio Icon Award while the program will issue a special tribute to the "Rocketman," honoring John’s longevity and global impact on pop culture.
The 2021 iHeartRadio Music Awards will air at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.