The awards for the 52nd Grammys will be handed out and broadcast live Jan. 31 on CBS. True to form, we’ve decided to take our hand at making some predictions in several key categories. (Have some predictions of your own? Let us know in the comments below!)
Record of the Year
The Black Eyed Peas: “I Gotta Feeling”
Kings Of Leon: “Use Somebody”
Lady Gaga: “Poker Face”
Taylor Swift: “You Belong With Me”
Will win: Taylor Swift. This category usually rewards rock acts, but only if they’re major players (i.e. Coldplay, U2, Green Day). “Use Somebody” seems like the token rock act, and this would be an entirely different conversation if U2 or Green Day’s singles had lived up to expectations. This category also likes to nominate huge pop smashes, but rarely likes to crown them the winner, which eliminates Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas. Beyoncé would be the frontrunner here due to her previous Grammy track record and if “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” were the song of choice, but in a baffling move, it was submitted for Song of the Year instead of the more suitable Record of the Year. Swift had such a huge year and is one of the industry’s most likeable young stars, which is usually a reliable combination for a Grammy win. “You Belong With Me” also benefits from being a crossover success, conquering both country and pop formats, which only widens its exposure among voters.
Should win: Swift, if only because it’s what a Record of the Year should be: popular, catchy and clever.
Overlooked: Keri Hilson: “Knock You Down”; Drake: “Best I Ever Had”
Album of the Year
Beyoncé: I Am… Sasha Fierce
The Black Eyed Peas: The E.N.D.
Lady Gaga: The Fame
Dave Matthews Band: Big Whiskey And The Groogrux King
Taylor Swift: Fearless
Will win: Beyoncé. She’s a multiple Grammy winner and one of the world’s biggest stars. Recording a double album shows ambition and could be just the right element to finally get her a win in the general categories. Swift is the only other strong contender, but the NARAS may not want to give the night’s biggest award to someone who hasn’t even turned 21 yet and for an album that’s considered lightweight in content. While Dave Matthews Band is the sentimental favorite and this category has tended to favor the unhip in the past decade (Herbie Hancock, Ray Charles, Steely Dan, Robert Plant & Allison Krauss), Big Whiskey does not have nods in any of the other general categories or the all-important pop fields. Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga are here based on sheer popularity and can’t be taken too seriously.
Should win: Very slim pickings this year as far as quality goes, but a Lady Gaga win would definitely be the most interesting and daring choice.
Overlooked: Kanye West: 808’s & Heartbreak; Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Song Of The Year
Beyoncé: “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” (Thaddis Harrell, Beyoncé Knowles, Terius Nash & Christopher Stewart, songwriters)
Kings of Leon: “Use Somebody” (Kings of Leon, songwriters)
Lady Gaga: “Poker Face” (Lady Gaga & RedOne, songwriters)
Maxwell: “Pretty Wings” (Hod David & Musze, songwriters)
Taylor Swift: “You Belong With Me” (Liz Rose & Taylor Swift, songwriters)
Will win: Taylor Swift should pick up the win over Beyoncé here, because up-tempo songs rarely win this category, if they’re nominated at all. “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” is hands down the most popular song here, but this is one of the few categories where sales don’t matter as much. Most years, this category is wide open, but Swift’s momentum is too hard to look past.
Should win: “Pretty Wings” is the classiest of the bunch and the strongest in regards to composition.
Overlooked: Kanye West: “Heartless”
Best New Artist
The Ting Tings
Zac Brown Band
Will win: Keri Hilson is the most recognizable artist here and should easily pick up the win. While MGMT, Silversun Pickups and The Ting Tings are well liked, they lack the kind of widespread acclaim and visibility that could result in an upset. Plus, it’s more than likely that they will all cancel each other out, because they all come from the “indie rock” world. MGMT stands the biggest chance to play the spoiler because “Kids” was also nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.
Should win: Even though it feels like it’s been ages since the album was released, MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular is the most solid of all the nominees’ albums.
Overlooked: Florence & The Machine, Ida Maria, Wale
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance
Adele: “Hometown Glory”
Katy Perry: “Hot N Cold”
Taylor Swift: “You Belong With Me”
Will win: This is Taylor Swift’s category to lose. The last two winners (Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” and Adele’s “Chasing Pavements”) had their songs nominated for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year, which is the case with Swift this year.
Should win: To be honest, there’s no one here to root for, really. “Single Ladies” is absent, and Adele, Perry and Pink all had stronger songs nominated last year.
Overlooked: Lily Allen: “The Fear”; Shakira: “She Wolf”
Best Dance Recording
The Black Eyed Peas: “Boom Boom Pow”
David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland: “When Love Takes Over”
Lady Gaga: Poker Face”
Britney Spears: Womanizer”
Will win: Depending on if there is a hugely popular song in this category or not, the winner here is usually a well-respected veteran by default. Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” lost in this same category to a live version of Daft Punk’s “Harder Better Faster Stronger” — a song written nearly nine years ago, if you’re counting — but “Poker Face” was too monstrous of a hit and can’t be overlooked this year. Black Eyed Peas could possibly play spoiler since their song was arguably more popular, but with her nod last year and a nomination for Best Electronic/Dance album this year, Gaga seems to be a favorite in the dance categories.
Should win: The nominees don’t capture the best of what dance music had to offer in 2009, but “Poker Face” feels like the most relevant choice in this category.
Overlooked: La Roux: “Bulletproof”; Royksöpp: “The Girl And The Robot”
Best Alternative Music Album
David Byrne & Brian Eno: Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
Death Cab For Cutie: The Open Door
Depeche Mode: Sounds Of The Universe
Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: It’s Blitz!
Will win: This will more than likely come down to either Phoenix or Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Death Cab For Cutie’s entry is only a five-song EP, and this category tends to reward artists currently at their peak instead of those who created their best music years ago, which leaves out Depeche Mode and the David Byrne/Brian Eno collaboration. While Phoenix did have one of the more memorable breakthrough years in some time, the Grammys can often, as we know, be a little slow to catch up, which is why Yeah Yeah Yeahs seem like the favorable choice here. They’ve been nominated twice in this category before; Phoenix is just now starting to get mainstream attention. It also doesn’t hurt that YYYs have some major-label muscle behind them. For a category that’s only had seven different artists win in the last 13 years, it’s safe to say that it favors familiarity.
Should win: Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was one of the most infectious albums of 2009 and rightfully earned the widened exposure that the band received from it.
Overlooked: Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion; Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest
Best Contemporary R&B Album
Beyoncé: I Am… Sasha Fierce
Jamie Foxx: Intuition
Pleasure P: The Introduction Of Marcus Cooper
Trey Songz: Ready
T-Pain: Thr33 Ringz
Will win: Artists that get the most nominations in a year usually clean up in the genre fields, which means Beyoncé is a lock here.
Should win: Trey Songz released the most sensual, colorful and distinct album out of all the nominees.
Overlooked: The-Dream: Love vs. Money; Electrik Red: How To Be A Lady Vol. 1; Ryan Leslie: Ryan Leslie
Best Rap Solo Performance
Drake: “Best I Ever Had”
Jay-Z: “D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune)”
Kid Cudi: “Day ‘N’ Nite”
Mos Def: Casa Bey”
Will win: Drake has the biggest song out of all the nominees, and its massive success will not be overlooked, even against veterans such as Jay-Z and Eminem. Jay-Z does have the momentum and is arguably more popular than ever, but he’ll probably figure more heavily in to the rap categories next year, when The Blueprint 3 becomes eligible.
Should win: What Mos Def’s “Casa Bey” lacked in airplay compared to the other nominees, it more than made up in soul and imagination.
Overlooked: Kanye West: “Heartless”; Q-Tip: “Move”
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
Beyoncé featuring Kanye West: “Ego”
Keri Hilson featuring Kanye West & Ne-Yo: “Knock You Down”
Jay-Z featuring Rihanna & Kanye West: “Run This Town”
The Lonely Island featuring T-Pain: “I’m On A Boat”
T.I. & Justin Timberlake: “Dead And Gone”
Will win: “Run This Town” has the most star power, and everyone involved is a household name.
Should win: “Knock You Down” featured one of the most immediate choruses of the year and a typically scene-stealing verse from Kanye.
Overlooked: The-Dream featuring Kanye West: “Walking On The Moon”
Best Rap Album
Common: Universal Mind Control
Flo Rida: R.O.O.T.S.
Mos Def: The Ecstatic
Q-Tip: The Renaissance
Will win: Even though Relapse didn’t live up to all its expectations, Eminem is a three-time winner in this category, and no one else here created as much buzz as he did.
Should win: Q-Tip’s long-awaited follow-up to Amplified was well worth the wait.
Overlooked: Ludacris: Theater of the Mind
Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments below! And be sure to check back on Jan. 31 to see how we fared.