2011 Grammy Nods: The Prefix Predictions

    Nominations for the 53rd annual Grammys will be announced on Wednesday, Dec.1, during a special live event broadcast on CBS. Expect to see a lot of nominations for Eminem, Lady Gaga and a few country artists you probably never bothered to look into. While the past three years have seen album of the year go to Taylor Swift, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss and Herbie Hancock, the nominees at least show that the Grammys are catching up, albeit at a glacial pace, to current trends in music. The nominations will likely reflect the continuing change in tastes, but you’ll have to wait until the winners are announced to see if the NARAS has truly moved forward.

    But first, the predictions:

     

    Category: Album of the Year

    This is one of the first years in recent memory where there aren’t any sure things in this category, at least from how I see it. The biggest lock possible would belong to Sade’s Soldier of Love, seeing as how she fits into multiple Grammy-bait archetypes (comeback artist, veteran, well-respected, commercially successful). I could say that Soldier of Love has cooled some since its first-quarter release, but I think the fact that there are not a ton of locks this year works in her favor.

    Another semi-lock is Eminem’s Recovery. Em is no stranger to this category, with previous nods for The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show. The NARAS loves this guy, but only if he’s on. Recovery is his most adored album since The Eminem Show and it’s proven to be a success on the charts as well, with songs all over the radio for the latter half of the year. There is a possibility that we could see two rap albums crash the party this year, with the other being Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3. The momentum for that album has dropped considerably since its release last September, but Jay-Z has remained a ubiquitous presence in the press for positive reasons, which never hurts. Two rap albums have been nominated in the same year before (2004, with Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below and Missy Elliott’s Under Construction), so it’s not out of the question, but if I had to go with one, it would be Recovery, due to it being more diverse thematically than Blueprint 3 and the higher seller of the two.

    The country voting contingent always comes through for their own in the general field. Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now will probably reap the benefits, due to the success of its title track and the lack of competition from Nashville. Miranda Lambert’s Revolution could play the spoiler here and would also be the hip choice, and it’s also not too far-fetched to think someone with as much appeal as her could land in this category one day.

    Part of me thinks that there are more stronger contenders than Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster, especially considering its short length, but she’s arguably bigger now than she was last year and there are few people I could imagine sneaking past her.

    According to the history of this category, there should be an album with a high Grammy pedigree here to court to the middle-aged crowd. I believe that album will be Carole King & James Taylor’s Live at the Troubadour. They might also get votes from the rock contingent, whose choices are limited this year also. If there’s going to be one crazy out-of-left-field nod here, it’ll probably be Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs.

    Nomination predictions:

    Eminem: Recovery

    Carole King & James Taylor: Live at the Troubadour

    Lady Antebellum: Need You Now

    Lady Gaga: The Fame Monster

    Sade: Soldier of Love

    Other possible contenders:

    Arcade Fire: The Suburbs

    Susan Boyle: I Dreamed A Dream

    Michael Buble: Crazy Love

    Herbie Hancock: The Imagine Project

    Jay-Z: The Blueprint 3

    Alicia Keys: The Element of Freedom

    Miranda Lambert: Revolution

    Linkin Park: A Thousand Suns

    Janelle Monae: The ArchAndroid

    Robert Plant: Band of Joy

    Corinne Bailey Rae: The Sea

    Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers: Mojo

    Usher: Raymond v. Raymond

    Category: Record of the Year

    You can always count on this category to carry few surprises when it comes to its nominees. It’s much easier to agree on which singles have universal appeal than it is albums. Continuing with her momentum from last year, it’s very likely that Lady Gaga will get a nod here for a second straight year, this time with “Bad Romance,” which might be even more liked than “Poker Face.”

    Eminem seems like a lock for this category, especially with two No. 1 singles. The question is which one will it be: “Not Afraid” or “Love The Way You Lie”? While I believe that “Not Afraid” is the lyrically superior and better song overall, having Rihanna certainly doesn’t hurt an artist’s chances for getting a Grammy nomination, which leads me to believe that “Love The Way You Lie,” with the help of its headline-grabbing video, will get in, but only if the NARAS can deal with two rap/singer collaborations in ROTY. The other obvious choice is Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” featuring Alicia Keys. It’s an eloquent love letter to a hometown that also served as a nationwide anthem, which spoke to its universal appeal.

    Because of its crossover success, Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Know” will more than likely get a nod here as well, which leaves just one spot. Traditionally, a rock song manages to make its way in here, but there hasn’t been a big hit the size of “Use Somebody” or “American Idiot” this year. The best chances lay with Paramore’s “The Only Exception” and Florence + The Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over.” Both are very solid contenders, but it’s Florence’s increasing mainstream profile and the Grammy’s fascination with British singers that would make her the upset pick. Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” is also a strong contender due to its popularity, but I’m not too sure she’s done much to improve her standing to the point where the NARAS is experiencing remorse over not giving a ROTY nod to “I Kissed A Girl.” Once again, I think that Sade will be able to get into the general field categories with “Soldier of Love” since she will probably be the biggest name that a lot of the older voters are familiar with.

    Nomination predictions:

    Eminem f. Rihanna: “Love The Way You Lie

    Jay-Z f. Alicia Keys: “Empire State of Mind”

    Lady Antebellum: “Need You Now”

    Lady Gaga: “Bad Romance”

    Sade: “Soldier of Love”

    Other possible contenders:

    B.o.B. f. Bruno Mars: “Nothin’ On You”

    Black Eyed Peas: “Imma Be”

    Bruno Mars: “Just The Way You Are”

    Cee-Lo: “Fuck You”

    Eminem: “Not Afraid”

    Florence + The Machine: “Dog Days Are Over”

    Michael Jackson: “This Is It”

    Paramore: “The Only Exception”

    Katy Perry f. Snoop Dogg: “California Gurls”

    Corinne Bailey Rae: “I’d Do It All Again”

    Taylor Swift: “Mine”

    Usher f. Will.i.am: “OMG”

    Category: Song of the Year

    Admittedly, this is a tough category to predict, due to its mostly subjective nature. Mainstream success doesn’t play as big of a role here and you’re more likely to find sensitive, introspective ballads instead of some of the lighter, uptempo fare that’s usually found in Record of the Year. The only pick I feel comfortable making is Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now.” I also think that Paramore’s “The Only Exception” would fit in, since it’s, well you know, a sensitive, introspective ballad. I could also see Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” nominated, especially since “Poker Face” was nominated here last year and bucked the trend of the typically mellow tracks that find their way here.

    I think the academy will want to see Sade get a lot of nods, and Song of the Year seems like a respectable place for “Soldier of Love.” Since there must be five, I’ll choose Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me,” because this also seems like a good category for it and the song is based around a metaphor. Like I said, a tough category to predict.

    Nomination predictions:

    Lady Antebellum: “Need You Now”

    Lady Gaga: “Bad Romance”

    Miranda Lambert: “The House That Built Me”

    Paramore: “The Only Exception”

    Sade: “Soldier of Love”

    Other possible contenders:

    Bruno Mars: “Just The Way You Are”

    Eminem f. Rihanna: “Love The Way You Lie”

    Eminem: “Not Afraid”

    Florence + The Machine: “Dog Days Are Over”

    Michael Jackson: “This Is It”

    Jay-Z f. Alicia Keys: “Empire State of Mind”

    Katy Perry: “Teenage Dream”

    Corinne Bailey Rae: “I’d Do It All Again”

    Taylor Swift: “Mine”

    Sugarland: “Stuck Like Glue”

    Train: “Hey Soul Sister”

    Category: Best New Artist

    This is usually one of the most competitive categories to get into because of the wealth of choices, and this year’s Best New Artist field boasts one of the deepest fields in recent memory. One could only imagine how much fiercer the competition would have been had the record labels for Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae submitted them for this category, but their exclusion has made it possible for at least one surprise to make the cut.

    Out of all the predictions I’ve made so far, I feel safest with Drake here. He’s already a big name and probably could have gotten a nod last year had he released an album.

    I think that if the Jonas Brothers can get a nod here, Justin Bieber should be able to as well. Their music is different from each other, but Bieber is basically in the same position they were just a few years ago.

    It’s unheard of to have two hip-hop artists in this category, but B.o.B had the kind of the year that’s just too hard to ignore, tradition be damned. I also like Florence + The Machine to capture a nod here, due to the previously mentioned mainstream relevance.

    You’d have to go back seven years to find the last time that this category did not have a country artist. Before then, it seemed as if only crossover acts such as Dixie Chicks and Leann Rimes could represent Nashville, but in recent years, success solely on the country charts has been enough to get a nomination here. This is probably one of the weaker years for new country artists, but I still like chances of The Band Perry.

    Surveying the other viable contenders, Ke$ha is too polarizing, voters would be hard pressed to name another Kid Cudi song besides “Day N Nite,” which was nominated last year, and Vampire Weekend probably isn’t that new to a lot of the people who would vote for them in the first place. Susan Boyle would seem like a perfect choice due to the obvious talent and the fact that pretty much everyone knows who she is, but this category has tended to lean toward a younger sound over the past decade.

    Nomination predictions:

    The Band Perry

    Justin Bieber

    B.o.B

    Drake

    Florence + The Machine

    Other possible contenders:

    Susan Boyle

    Ke$ha

    Kid Cudi

    Adam Lambert

    Mumford & Sons

    Neon Trees

    Jerrod Nieman

    Orianthi

    Vampire Weekend

    Here’s a look at a few other categories from the genre fields that also figure to be competitive:

    Category: Best Dance Recording

    Kelis: “Acapella”

    Lady Gaga: “Dance In The Dark”

    David Guetta, Fergie, Chris Willis & LMFAO: “Getting Over You”

    Rihanna: “Only Girl In The World”

    Robyn: “Dancing On My Own”

    Other possible contenders: 

    The Chemical Brothers: “Swoon”

    Goldfrapp: “Rocket”

    La Roux: “In For The Kill”

    M.I.A.: “XXXO”

    Mike Posner: “Cooler Than Me”

    Kelly Rowland & David Guetta: “Commander”

    Category: Best Alternative/Music Album

    Arcade Fire: The Suburbs

    Broken Bells: Broken Bells

    Gorillaz: Plastic Beach

    MGMT: Congratulations

    Vampire Weekend: Contra

    Other possible contenders:

    The Black Keys: Brothers

    Flaming Lips: Embryonic

    Hot Chip: One Life Stand

    LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening

    The National: High Violet

    Spoon: Transference

    Category: Best Rap Album

    Drake: Thank Me Later

    Eminem: Recovery

    Jay-Z: The Blueprint 3

    Big Boi: Sir Lucious Left Foot…The Son of Chico Dusty

    Nas & Damien “Jr. Gong” Marley: Distant Relatives

    Other possible contenders: 

    B.o.B: The Adventures of Bobby Ray

    Kid Cudi: Man on the Moon: End of the Day

    Ludacris: Battle of the Sexes

    Raekwon: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II

    The Roots: How I Got Over

    Wale: Attention Deficit

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    Have any predictions of your own? Stake your claim in the comments below.