By Todd Martens Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — The Grammy Awards still have the ability to surprise. The Recording Academy announced last week that Justin Timberlake would perform on the Sunday telecast, his first musical appearance in support of his first new solo material in more than six years.
Timberlake, a six-time Grammy winner and two-time nominee for album of the year, will release “The 20/20 Experience” on March 19.
The Grammy Awards will air at 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS.
Timberlake, in his relatively short career, has a long history with the Grammys. In 2009, he was asked to host the telecast (he declined), but he did perform that year with Al Green.
The two staged a last-minute take of Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” a performance added after Chris Brown’s assault on Rihanna forced the two off the Grammy broadcast.
The two were scheduled to perform separately on the telecast, leaving the Grammys with a performance hole. Brown is serving five years’ probation after pleading guilty to assaulting her the night before the 2009 awards.
There’s no shortage of star power slated to perform at this year’s show, with Taylor Swift, Jack White, Rihanna, Carrie Underwood and the Black Keys among those on the roster.
Late last month, the Grammys also teased some of the unexpected artist mash-ups the broadcast is famous for.
Elton John will collaborate with young British pop singer Ed Sheeran, who’s up for song of the year with his “The A Team.”
Also performing together will be country stars Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert.
The 2012 Grammy telecast drew 40 million people. Interest last year was buoyed by preshow drama that can’t be replicated, as viewers tuned in to see how artists would respond to the sudden death of Whitney Houston a day earlier as well as to witness Adele’s return to the stage after vocal surgery.