U2 tops this year’s list of Grammy nominees, leading with eight nods including one in each of the three top categories. In an apparent effort to keep the annual awards ceremony relevant (Steely Dan’s Best Album of the Year win all but negated the progress achieved with Lauryn Hill’s win three years ago), India.Arie, easily the ho-hummiest of recent neo-soul songstresses, scored a whopping seven nominations. Another newcomer, Alicia Keys, has six nominations to her name. Slant Magazine boldly predicts that Arie will lose out in all of the top categories (her nominations alone are enough to make the Academy’s point: “We’re hip, we really are!”). Here are our predictions for who will win, who should win and who doesn’t stand a chance:
RECORD OF THE YEAR
Though U2 won in this category last year, it’s unlikely Grammy voters will grace the band with another Record of the Year trophy, especially for a song that was only a moderate hit. Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” was a big enough crossover hit to win the Academy over but neo-soul newcomers Keys and Arie could certainly give the hip-hop pioneers a run for their money. Also nominated: Train’s “Drops of Jupiter.”
Will Win: Alicia Keys “Fallin’”
Should Win: Outkast “Ms. Jackson”
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
In 2000, U2 hung up their synthesizers and delivered the kind of album Grammy voters love to salivate over. About as by-the-numbers as the band has ever been, All That You Can’t Leave Behind could very well win Grammy’s coveted prize on February 27th. Still, the Irish quartet have some stiff competition: Bob Dylan (though he won in 1998, Love & Theft was one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2001) and Outkast (while easily the most deserving, Stankonia never reached the commercial heights of Hill’s Miseducation). However, don’t count out the soundtrack to the Cohen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou?; it’s the top-selling album in the category and has won over critics and listeners alike. Slant predicts the blue-grass album will be the first soundtrack to win Album of the Year since 1992’s The Bodyguard. Also nominated: Arie’s Acoustic Soul.
Will Win: Soundtrack O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Should Win: Outkast Stankonia
SONG OF THE YEAR
Another double-win for U2 in the Record and Song of the Year categories is virtually out of the question this year as “Walk On” and “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” should cancel each other out. A double-win, however, is possible for Keys whose “Fallin’” is nominated for both awards. Nelly Furtado and Train, also nominated in both categories, will likely remain seated during the ceremony’s bigger categories. Also nominated: Arie’s “Video.”
Will Win: Alicia Keys “Fallin’”
Should Win: Alicia Keys “Fallin’”
BEST NEW ARTIST
White voters robbed Jill Scott of a Best New Artist trophy last year, but with Linkin Park a little too hard and David Gray a little too Euro, it’s Keys’ award to lose. Grammy loves to give it to the ladies in this category. It might be Arie’s best chance for Grammy gold and Furtado, who’s proven she’s more than just a one-hit wonder, could benefit from a split vote.
Will Win: Alicia Keys
Should Win: Alicia Keys
BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM
Past winners include vanilla-pop such as Sting, James Taylor and Celine Dion so Elton John and Sade are front-runners in the Best Pop Vocal Album category. Madonna’s first foray into electronic-pop won over voters in 1999 but Janet Jackson’s All For You is no Ray Of Light and Nelly Furtado, though more than worthy, may be a little too young and kinky for the Academy. Look for Sir Elton to snag his sixth Grammy. Also nominated: ’NSync’s Celebrity.
Will Win: Elton John Songs from the West Coast
Should Win: Nelly Furtado Whoa, Nelly!
BEST DANCE RECORDING
No other category more clearly defines the demographics of Grammy voters than the Best Dance Recording category (last year’s one-hit winner: “Who Let the Dogs Out”). The sheer fact that Polka has its own category while electronic music still gets lumped in with Alternative and Pop just goes to show how out of touch the Academy really is. Producers Brian Rawling and Mark Taylor certainly can’t help Lionel Richie win the way they did Cher in 2000 and who other than 37 year-old gay men at Roxy knew Gloria Estefan was still making music? More worthy nominees include Daft Punk’s “One More Time,” Janet Jackson’s “All for You” and Depeche Mode’s “I Feel Loved.”
Will Win: Janet Jackson “All for You”
Should Win: Depeche Mode “I Feel Loved”
BEST ROCK ALBUM
Ryan Adams could reap the rewards of his over-hyped Gold with only U2 to hold him back. Linkin Park stands a chance with Hybrid Theory, the biggest-selling album of last year, but Aerosmith’s Just Push Play hardly made a sound. In the end, look for U2 to send PJ Harvey home empty-handed yet again.
Will Win: U2 All That You Can’t Leave Behind
Should Win: PJ Harvey Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM
Grammy’s Alternative category has become a veritable dumping ground for those on the outskirts of the American mainstream (artists like U2 and PJ Harvey, who were previously nominated in this category, are now considered “Rock.”) Radiohead may have over-saturated their niche with two back-to-back albums and Björk’s Vespertine may have been a bit too quiet despite the performer’s recent high profile. Tori Amos has certainly earned her dues but this one will likely go to British imports Coldplay or Fatboy Slim, the electronic maestro whose Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars spawned the award-winning “Weapon Of Choice.”
Will Win: Fatboy Slim Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars
Should Win: Tori Amos Strange Little Girls
BEST R&B ALBUM
Probably the toughest category to call, Best R&B Album is all dolled-up and testosterone-free. Destiny’s Child (last year’s winners of Best R&B Performance) might not be able to weather the storm of Mary J. Blige’s No More Drama and Keys’s Songs in A Minor. Blige is the category’s veteran (the other nominees’ average age is 21) but voters, like those at the American Music Awards, might not be able to ignore the lovely Aaliyah. Also nominated: Arie’s Acoustic Soul.
Will Win: Aaliyah Aaliyah
Should Win: Aaliyah Aaliyah
BEST RAP ALBUM
Eve and Ja Rule could benefit from their pop collaborations with Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Lopez, respectively, but Jay-Z and Outkast are the rappers to beat. Jay-Z won in this category three years ago but unless voters deem Stankonia too old of a buzz record, Outkast is a shoe-in. Also nominated: Ludacris’s Back for the First Time.
Will Win: Outkast Stankonia
Should Win: Outkast Stankonia