Hey y’all!

The same way that some consider the Academy Awards the Super Bowl for non-sports fans, the Grammy Awards is like the Super Bowl for a certain strain of music fan. Of course, I’m a football fan, so it’s kinda like having the Super Bowl a week after the Super Bowl…and it’s very likely that this year, Madonna will be at both.

I won’t go into specifics about the history of the Grammy Awards. You all have Wikipedia for that. Since 1958, however, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences has voted on the best and brightest in music during the previous year. Do the Academy’s tastes link up with the taste of the public? Sometimes. Do they link up with who hardcore music fans really feel is the best in that given year? No, and they take a fair amount of flak for that. The criticism will never go away, and the Grammys are an institution, so it’s unlikely that they’ll go away either.

This year’s nominees are a pretty accurate barometer of what was big in pop music this year. Of course, Adele is a major nominee, but strong showings were also made by Kanye West, The Foo Fighters, Bon Iver and more. I’m doubtful that this year will see many (if any) surprises like Esperanza Spalding beating out Drake and Justin Bieber for Best New Artist or The Arcade Fire triumphing over Eminem for Album Of The Year, but it’s always fun to predict.

So, that’s what I’m gonna do. For the next few days, I’ll be posting the nominees in most of the major categories and taking a stab at predicting the winners. I’ve done this for almost a decade now across a few different sites. I don’t have any way to compile my success rate (that’s a lie, I’m just too lazy to do it) but I’m pretty sure it’s over 50%.

Anyway, sit back, relax, and see if my Miss Cleo skills can stay on point for another year. We’re gonna start out today with the rock nominees, then move into rap, R&B, pop and the general field over the course of the week.

CATEGORY: Best Rock Performance

Nominees: “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” (Coldplay), “Down By The Water” (The Decemberists), “Walk” (Foo Fighters), “The Cave” (Mumford & Sons), “Lotus Flower” (Radiohead)

Should Win: Mumford & Sons. All of the nominees are pretty solid, but Mumford’s folky hit single had the most emotional heft of any of the nominated songs.  OK, most of the nominees are pretty solid. That Coldplay song is kinda suspect, but at this point Chris Martin could fart on a record and get nominated for a Grammy.

Will Win: Mumford & Sons. Their performance on last year’s show was a star-making one, and very likely to still be in the heads of voters. Mumford & Sons also record for an indie, so this’ll be a chance for some of the more self-righteous voters to feel like they’re raging against the machine. Coldplay and the Foos have sort of a chance, but I’m pretty confident that voters will “Cave” into M&S this year.

CATEGORY: Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance

Nominees: “On The Backs Of Angels” (Dream Theater), “White Limo” (Foo Fighters), “Curl Of The Burl” (Mastodon), “Public Enemy No. 1” (Megadeth), “Blood In My Eyes” (Sum 41)

Should Win: I’ll admit to not being particularly up on my hard rock and metal-especially my metal. Two things jump out at me immediately. One is that the hard rock and metal categories have been combined into one, which I suppose makes sense. The other is that of the five nominees, the one that immediately strikes me as a “someone stuffed the ballot box” entry is Sum 41. The same guys that made “Fat Lip”? With the dude who married Avril Lavigne? Up for a Grammy? In a metal category? Fuck outta here. OK, I like Mastodon. They should probably win.

Will Win: Process of elimination. Sum 41 has a snowball’s chance in hell. The part of the voting body that is not metal or rock-centric will only know Dream Theater from a peripheral standpoint. So, cross those two off. Foo Fighters stand a solid chance of taking this category, as do hard rock legends Megadeth. Mastodon has a solid chance, as their commercial profile has raised somewhat (although I still don’t think it’s even to their level of critical cachet.) Mastodon will likely win it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Foos stole it. There-I’m hedging my bets.

CATEGORY: Best Rock Song

Nominees: “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” (Coldplay), “Down By The Water” (The Decemberists), “Walk” (Foo Fighters), “The Cave” (Mumford & Sons), “Lotus Flower” (Radiohead)

Should Win: Yep-the exact same five songs nominated in the Best Rock Performance category show up again in the Best Rock Song category (which is awarded to the songwriters as opposed to the artists. However, in this case, the songwriters and the artists are one and the same, so…) Is this coincidence or laziness? It’s certainly not like there’s a lack of artists to choose from, even though rock music is not the force it once was. At any rate, I’ll say that Mumford again should win this category. It’s easily the best-written song of the five.

Will Win: Mumford & Sons. The Foo Fighters present a challenge in every category we’ve recapped so far, and you can’t count against the hip-hop demographic’s love for Coldplay (all NARAS voters are allowed to vote for the winner in every category.) However, like I said when I went through the Best Rock Performance nominees, Mumford will be on the lips of anyone who remembers their star-making performance last year. Then again, I guess we should remember that a star-making performance doesn’t necessariy equal Grammy gold (hello, Ricky Martin.) Still-Mumford FTW. Plus, “The Cave” is nominated for Song of The Year. This will be their consolation prize.

CATEGORY: Best Rock Album

Nominees: “Rock ‘n Roll Party Honoring Les Paul” (Jeff Beck), “Wasting Light” (Foo Fighters), “Come Around Sundown” (Kings of Leon), “I’m With You” (Red Hot Chili Peppers), “The Whole Love” (Wilco)

Should Win: Models of consistency for almost two decades now, the Foo Fighters made arguably their best album with Wasting Light. Honorable mentions should definitely go to Wilco and Kings of Leon-both bands made fantastic albums, although KoL’s feels like it came out ages ago, and I’d imagine the series of meltdowns they’ve experienced in the past 16 months or so haven’t helped their profile amongst voters. Politics, ladies and gentlemen.

Will Win: Logic dictates that if you’re nominated in one of the general field categories, you’re probably gonna take the genre-specific categories in which you’re nominated. Even if that wasn’t the case, Dave Grohl is a long-standing music industry veteran who has a shelf of Grammys already. This is as sure a thing as any of these categories can possibly be. The Foos will take this one for sure.

CATEGORY: Best Alternative Music Performance

Nominees: “Bon Iver” (Bon Iver), “Codes & Keys” (Death Cab For Cutie), “Torches” (Foster The People), “Circuital” (My Morning Jacket), “The King of Limbs” (Radiohead)

Should Win: Let’s see what we’ve got here. Three veteran bands that made solid if unspectacular albums, an artist who is slowly creeping up on my “grossly overrated” list and a new band that made an album full of catchy earworms. Foster the People kinda run counter to the textbook definition of “alternative” but damn if Torches isn’t the best album of the five that are nominated.

Will Win: Radiohead would normally be a lock, but The King of Limbs has widely been acknowledged as not the band’s best work. This leaves the lane pretty wide open, but Bon Iver will most likely triumph. It helps to have a bloc of voters locked down (and the hip-hop contingent will likely vote for him given the Kanye factor) and NARAS in general seems to have a hard-on for him (yes, I know they’re a band, but seriously, how many people in Bon Iver do you know besides Justin Vernon.) He’s nominated in a slew of major categories, so logic (again) dictates that Bon Iver wins here.

Next up: How well can Kanye fare against himself in the rap categories?

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