Grammy Predictions & Picks, Part I

Here we are…the weekend before arguably the biggest music awards event of the year…the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards. I’ve been planning to do a little who will probably win/who should win-type post for a while, so here it is…well, part one, at least. I’ll be taking on a few of the big-ticket categories, as well as some more specialized ones (mostly jazz). And at least in the case of this part, I shall be writing this quick like a bunny, since I’m a bit pressed for time. Caveat: My predictions are not incredibly well-founded, but I’ll do my best. And feel free to disagree with my choices in the comments. We need a little good-natured controversy around here. 🙂

Album of the Year

The Grammy voters have gone all over the place with this category in the past…everywhere from jazz to hip-hop to folk to country-pop. One thing that’s sometimes held true in the past is that they tend to go for the dark-horse choice. Examples: “Raising Sand” winning the ’09 trophy; “River: The Joni Letters” taking the ’08 prize over Amy Winehouse and Kanye; OutKast earning the top honor in ’04. Thus, I’m going to get a little bold (and OK, full of wishful thinking…) and say that Arcade Fire‘s outstanding “The Suburbs” will be the voters’ choice for Album of the Year in 2011. Eminem definitely is a huge contender, seeing as he had a whirlwind year both critically and commercially in 2010 (one of his greatest detractors says through gritted teeth), and the Academy could finally decide to give Lady Gaga more recognition than she’s received in the past, but Arcade Fire’s album seems like the kind of quality, slightly offbeat entry–that nevertheless pleased tons of critics and fans alike–that has won in the past. “The Suburbs” is both what I think will win, and what I want to win.

Record of the Year

One of the oft-confusing twin categories that usually overlap a lot (Song of the Year, which honors songwriters, is the other one), Record of the Year goes to performers. It’s often hard to predict this category, as sometimes the NARAS goes for something pretty expected (“Use Somebody” and “Rehab”)…but just as often, the winner comes from out of the blue (“Please Read The Letter” and “Here We Go Again”). I’d say “F— You” has the right combination of “big song” and “unique song” status to catapult it to the top. One of the other nominees (except for perhaps “Nothin’ On You,” though I wouldn’t count it out) could easily take the prize, of course. My personal preference goes to “F— You” (though I’ve only heard it in its edited form, “Forget You”) or “Need You Now.” (I have both of them on my iPod.)

Song of the Year

Interestingly, though this category usually has a few less high-profile nominees than Record of the Year, one of the big-ticket items usually takes the honors here, judging from years past. I’ll say “Love The Way You Lie” as my prediction here. I’m not a personal fan of the song, but it takes on a weighty issue (domestic abuse) with a wide-appeal combo of rap & vocals. “Need You Now” and “F— You” are also in the thick of things. My personal picks are the same as Record of the Year, with the addition of Ray LaMontagne’s beautifully understated “Beg Steal or Borrow.”

Best New Artist

And here’s where things get a little messy. In years past, there’s maybe been one or two dogs I’ve had in this race., tops..but this year, the NARAS went ahead and decided to stack it with 3 of my absolute favorite artists (well, I have a lot of favorite artists, so it’s not like it would be a long shot for that to happen)…and then top the category off with 2 huge acts (the Bieber and the Drake) that have a combined 40% chance to break my Grammy-following heart. It kind of goes without saying that I’d prefer for the latter two boys (interestingly enough, both Canadians) not to take home this particular trophy. And thus, I flatly refuse to predict that either of them will win. (It’s my blog, I can cry if I want to. :)) My prediction goes to Florence + The Machine, simply because she had a breakthrough year (“Dog Days Are Over” simply exploded, almost out of thin air, after doing so well in the UK), and she’s the kind of quirky, daring choice the NARAS loves to go with, mostly to look somewhat hip. As for who I want to win…it’s a huge step forward just to have Esperanza Spalding nominated in this kind of high-profile category, so I’d be fine with her either winning or not. As for Mumford & Sons, their sweeping brand of folk-rock is simply irresistible, and I’d LOVE for them to receive some more recognition here across the pond. And of course, Flo’s music is absolutely breathtaking. I can’t choose between the three, so if any of them win, I’ll be as happy as a clam. (I do have a feeling Florence & Mumford/Sons fans might be a bit more gutted, though, should either of them not take home the prize. Us jazz fans are [I hope I’m reading this sentiment right] happy enough to see the field break through here, and a win would just be cherry on top. Sadly, there’s probably not too many people who love all three artists basically the same, as I do, though I could be wrong.)

That’s all for Part I. Stay tuned for Part II (and possibly Part III, though probably not)! And be sure to state your opinion and challenge my picks/predictions, with style and class (ish), in the comments. 🙂

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