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Grammy 2014 Winner Predictions

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Grammy 2014 Winner Predictions

Starting tomorrow, we’ll predict the winners in all four General Field categories of the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, airing Sunday night on CBS. To kick things off, though, here are our thoughts on some of the smaller categories:

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: If this category is indeed meant to honor performance and collaboration, it’s hard to argue with the crossover synergy of Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell’s “Blurred Lines,” whereby Pharrell supplies the Marvin Gaye sample (plus those all-important head-bobs), while Thicke brings the yelps, grunts, and falsetto blue-eyed R&B flourishes that critics have admired for a full decade, even as Thicke failed to drop a #1 single. That single is here, and we suspect it means Thicke will be taking home at least one tchotchke on Grammy night. Ted Scheinman

Best Pop Vocal Album: Best Pop Vocal Album is where albums snubbed for Album of the Year go to thrive. This year’s group is composed entirely of AOTY snubs (including Lorde, Bruno Mars, and Robin Thicke), which makes predicting the victor a little more difficult. But it’s not hard to see Justin Timberlake’s mammoth two-part The 20/20 Experience – The Complete Experience, the biggest selling album of 2013, reaping the rewards of its maker’s surprise snubs in the top-tier categories. Sal Cinquemani

Best Dance Recording: After the Great Al Walser Affair of 2013, it’s almost disorienting to not see Ylvis and their completely unlistenable “Dada” Al Yankovic novelty hit “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)”—which I’m still convinced is a satire of Fox News hosts’ main talking points—among this category’s nominees. The absence of both Daft Punk and Disclosure would be nearly as puzzling, except the rundown shows voters were almost exclusively dazzled by EDM this year, to the point of rewarding even the most boilerplate work from Armin Van Buuren and Kaskade. I’d love to see Duke Dumont’s pitch-perfect house anthem clearing enough space around itself for a win, but this is probably Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch’s to lose. Though this category has seemed to drift further and further away from its diva roots, “Sweet Nothing” offers voters a reprieve. Eric Henderson

Best Rock Album: Apparently, in the Academy’s eyes, 2013 was a big year for classic-rock legacy acts; just two of this category’s six nominated albums are from contemporary artists, and neither Queens of the Stone Age nor Kings of Leon likely made enough of an impact last year to secure a win here. Both Black Sabbath’s surprisingly decent 13 and Led Zeppelin’s concert album Celebration Day may stand the slimmest of chances at an upset, but this is almost certainly going to The Next Day, David Bowie’s celebrated comeback album. Chase Woodruff

Best Alternative Music Album: The National and Neko Case’s albums are prestigious indie-rock affairs that seem far too bland to be paid their due from the Academy, while Tame Impala’s Lonerism might have gotten more traction if it hadn’t been released all the way back in October 2012. Some voters might take the opportunity to give Trent Reznor his first Grammy in two decades for Nine Inch Nails’ Hesitation Marks, but let’s not kid ourselves—with effusive, near-universal acclaim, including the top slot on Slant’s 25 Best Albums of 2013, and a big cultural and commercial footprint to boot, Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City is a virtual lock here. Woodruff

Best R&B Song: His seven nominations aside, this doesn’t seem to be Justin Timberlake’s year at the Grammys. And even if it were and he’d landed those key nominations in the general field, there hasn’t been a white dude attached to the winning song in this category since Simply Red, and even then that win happened only because it gave voters the chance to belatedly honor Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who lost no fewer than six times in their prime during the ’70s…though one of those losses was to Leo Sayer, so maybe Timberlake’s “Pusher Love Girl” still has an outside shot. Anthony Hamilton is going to have to win something one of these years if he ever manages to keep voters awake, and both he and Tamar Braxton earned companion nods in the Best R&B Performance slate. “Love and War” is less a piece of song craft than a case study in the function of octaves, so I’m betting the sunny maximalism of PJ Morton’s “Only One” (which sounds like and reserves a guest spot for Stevie Wonder) slips past them all for a surprise win. Henderson

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: Not to be outdone by BFF Justin Timberlake, Jay Z was shut out of the general field despite being the artist with the most nominations. The rapper-mogul, who’s won half of the dozen golden gramophones handed out in this category, has two tracks nominated this year, both from his album Magna Carta… Holy Grail. “Part II (On the Run),” featuring wife Beyoncé, was only just released as a single this month, so the edge goes to the Top 5 smash “Holy Grail,” featuring—who else?—Timberlake. Cinquemani