Who’s actually performing on the Grammys? It’s becoming increasingly difficult for Jack Sussman and his team to produce a great show as the Recording Academy continues to place enormous hurdles in their way—and more and more major artists say they’ve had enough.

On Wednesday, the first performers were announced: Bad Bunny, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Luke Combs, Steve Lacy, Lizzo and Sam Smith & Kim Petras. Harry Styles has since been confirmed.

While we’re told JAY-Z is due to be on (possibly in tandem with DJ Khaled), word has it that quite a few of the top-tier nominees have bowed out of taking the stage on Music’s Biggest Night. As of now, neither Taylor Swift, Beyoncé nor Kendrick Lamar has committed to being on the show, and insiders say it’s unlikely they’ll be in the lineup—though nothing is set in stone quite yet. Adele has claimed she'll be there, though this hasn't been announced. The Grammy TV campaign nonetheless features Bey and Adele. It goes without saying that if any of the aforementioned stars were actually slated to appear, Grammy would be trumpeting that fact to boost its ratings.

Polling biz folk, we’re hearing that Harry is deserving of AOTY. But the overwhelming politics of the Academy suggests it's leaning a different way. It’s unfortunate that the game is rigged. Blame it on those Venezuelan voting machines.

Are these performer issues due to the present dysfunction of the Academy’s inner circle, past slights of superstars or some other reason? In any case, we understand there is lingering bad blood between Grammyland and a surprising number of key acts. We hear that one very high-profile artist, not among the present nominees but now enjoying a giant chart run, has vowed never to perform on the show.

This comes in the wake of refusals by superstars like Drake, The Weeknd and Ed Sheeran to be involved in the trophyfest in any way after multiple snubs and other frustrations.

How will Team Grammy navigate this difficult terrain? Certainly the recent deaths of several legendary artists—notably David Crosby, Jeff Beck and Christine McVie—will necessitate big tribute numbers. (Given the fractiousness of Fleetwood Mac and CSNY over the years—over issues unrelated to the Academy—which surviving members might take the stage?) Will Grammy fill the gaps with nostalgia and performances by its favorite insider artists, who’ve spent years kissing babies on the Academy circuit? If we don’t see Dave Grohl it would be a surprise. Stay tuned.