So, we’ve wound our way through four sets of categories for tonight’s Grammy Awards, and now we’ve reached the biggies. These are the prestige categories-the ones that are actually shown on camera every year (a word to Grammy producers: less performances, more awards-for nerds like us, anyway…) They’re the ones that shine most proudly on the mantel. However…
Before we get into that, I pride myself on knowing my pop music history, but even though I was aware of most if not all of these omissions, I was still pretty stunned to look at Spinner’s list of artists who have never won a Grammy. Want a reminder to not take the show so seriously? Consider the fact that Diana Ross (who is being honored with a Grammy legend award tonight) has never won a competitive Grammy Award. The Rolling Stones, widely considered the alpha and omega when it comes to rock groups, have only won two. From Led Zeppelin, The Doors and The Grateful Dead through The Jackson 5 and Curtis Mayfield on down to Public Enemy, 2 Pac and Biggie, the list of oversights (and unjustifiable ones, at that) is long. Yet, Britney Spears has a Grammy and the Black Eyed Peas have multiple. So, yeah, you can’t take it too seriously. The most long-lasting effect of the awards is the one that happens at the cash register.
With that in mind, here are the nominees in the general field’s most exciting four categories.
Category: Best New Artist
Nominees: The Band Perry, Bon Iver, J. Cole, Nicki Minaj, Skrillex
Should Win: Truthfully, this is kind of a lame list. Didn’t better artists make a name for themselves last year? I’ll admit to not being terribly partial to either The Band Perry or Skrillex. I was disappointed by J. Cole’s album (especially considering the fact that the Friday Night Lights mixtape was hot as shit.) I don’t mind Bon Iver, but I feel as though he (and until further notice-they’re a he, so long as no one can name any of the rest of the band. Besides Kanye, didn’t credit “Justin Vernon” on the songs he alone appeared on, he credited “Bon Iver.” Off the soapbox I go.) Anyway, my half-hearted “should win” goes to Nicki Minaj, the strongest of a field I’m fairly ambivalent towards.
Will Win: Giving Bon Iver the award will continue the Grammy folks’ tradition of giving Best New Artist awards to folks who are technically not new artists. He’s got indie credit, he sells fairly well, and the category has generally been a graveyard for rappers (see: Arrested Development.) Nicki could steal this, but I’m gonna roll with Justin and co. (ahem) for now.
Category: Song Of The Year (a songwriter’s award)
Nominees: “All of The Lights” (five songwriters including Kanye West & Fergie), “The Cave” (Mumford & Sons), “Grenade” (six songwriters including Bruno Mars), “Holocene” (Justin Vernon), “Rolling In The Deep” (Adele & Paul Epworth)
Should Win: It’s hard to go against Adele in this category, but it can be argued that “The Cave” and “Grenade” are just as good (from a song construction standpoint.) I’ve been on a Bruno Mars kick lately, so I’d be incredibly tempted, if I were chief decider, to give the award to him. But “Grenade” took SIX people to write? Really? A scratch of the head for the nomination for “All Of The Lights”-probably one of Kanye’s less lyrically potent songs.
Will Win: The best song almost never wins in this category, which is forever tarnished in my head because “Single Ladies” by Beyonce took home song of the year, but this is Adele’s year. She and Bruno might split Record and Song, but my bones are feeling a sweep. So, Adele it is.
Category: Album Of The Year
Nominees: 21 (Adele), Wasting Light (Foo Fighters), Born This Way (Lady GaGa), Doo-Wops & Hooligans (Bruno Mars), Loud (Rihanna)
Should Win: Kanye West. But he isn’t even nominated. Yes, I’m still a bit perturbed about My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy not getting a nod here. That said, none of the nominees is a bad album, GaGa’s album was decent, Bruno’s album was good (although short), Rihanna’s album was quite good, as was the Foo Fighters’. None of them stand a chance against Adele. This is the surest thing in the history of sure things. It’s like Thriller being nominated in ’84. Damn, can you imagine how many copies of 21 would have been sold by now if this was 1984? Or 1996?
Will Win: If Adele doesn’t win this award, I will film myself eating my hat. OK, I won’t. My hats probably taste nasty as hell. But you get the idea.
Category: Record Of The Year
Nominees: “Rolling In The Deep” (Adele), “Holocene” (Bon Iver), “Grenade” (Bruno Mars), “The Cave” (Mumford & Sons), “Firework” (Katy Perry)
Should Win: Again, I’d be fine with Adele, Bruno Mars or Mumford & Sons winning in this category. “Firework” isn’t Katy Perry’s best song (and her use of vocal trickery works against her, I think,) and, man, I literally just listened to “Holocene” as I was writing this up, and…I do not get it. Seriously.
Will Win: There have been some weird upsets (anyone remember Coldplay’s “Clocks” beating OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” almost a decade ago?) so there’s a chance for someone else to sneak through, but truthfully, I can’t imagine who would beat Adele. This is her night. She’s gonna get this award. She had the biggest selling single of 2011, the biggest selling album of 2011, and her comeback from throat surgery adds a feel good element that all award-givers go nuts over. The award, and the night, will be hers.
That’s not all, folks! Me and the crew will be live-blogging the ceremony starting at 8 PM EST tonight! Make sure you click over to the site and give us a shout!