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Grammy 2015 Winner Predictions

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Grammy 2015 Winner Predictions

All this week we’re predicting the winners in the so-called Big Four categories at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, airing this Sunday night on CBS. We kick things off with our picks in some of the smaller genre categories:

Best Rock Album: NARAS loves to reward long-overdue veterans, particularly in categories like Best Rock Album, where past winners include the Rolling Stones (who took home the inaugural trophy back in 1995), U2 (who’ve won twice, and are nominated again this year), and Led Zeppelin (whose live album Celebration Day triumphed over Black Sabbath, David Bowie, and Neil Young last year). It might seem foolish to bet against U2, but the Irish icons only have a 50% success rate in this category, and Songs of Innocence was notable mostly for its controversial rollout—which, unlike Beyoncé, was met with a cool reception. The Black Keys won here two years ago, and while the academy is fond of repeat winners (just ask Foo Fighters, who possess a whopping 20 percent of all of the metal handed out in this category), it will be hard to resist rewarding Beck’s Morning Phase, the Album of the Year-nominated sequel to his beloved 2002 album Sea Change. And yes, he’s a “veteran.” Feel old? Sal Cinquemani

Best Alternative Music Album: Believe it or not, Arcade Fire is zero for three in this category, and while it might seem hard to resist handing this one to Jack White (whose White Stripes have won three times here, twice besting Arcade Fire), Reflektor’s biggest competition is likely St. Vincent, a.k.a. Annie Clark, whose St. Vincent was one of the most critically acclaimed releases of the year, topping our own list of the Best Albums of 2014. Not to put too fine a point on it, last year’s winner in this category, Vampire Weekend, also happened to be our #1 album of 2013. Cinquemani

Best Dance Recording: I live for getting this category wrong on a yearly basis. I don’t know, it’s something about the combination of bad faith the nominations typically give me about what sort of music allegedly sets NARAS voters’ hips a poppin’, and my misguided hope that they won’t simply reward the highest-paid, douchiest DJ. (If they follow through on the latter point, then Skrillex Zhu may end up coming out on top.) And my creeping dread that they’ll simply pick the most recognizable name, which this year would’ve been Basement Jaxx had Mary J. Blige not dropped in for Disclosure’s meaty “F for You” redux. Presuming that they actually listen to all five nominees, it’s hard not to see the majority of them breaking toward Clean Bandit’s cheek-pinching ditty, which comes on like the love child of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” and Ellie Goulding’s “Lights.” Eric Henderson

Best R&B Performance: It’s actually in “***Flawless,” not “Drunk In Love,” that Beyoncé commands “Bow down, bitches!” But the sentiment is implied everywhere else. And it’ll unquestionably play out that way here too, inching Bey that much closer to eclipsing every standing female Grammy record. It’s not a completely clear path: Jennifer Hudson’s retro house groove gets the octave-swooping job done with far less fuss than anything on Mary J. Blige’s recent purported “house album,” The London Sessions, and Usher’s alternately jagged and smooth “Good Kisser” is the extroverted inverse of his implosive Grammy-winning “Climax.” But at the end of the day, well…surfbort, surfbort. Henderson

Best Rap Album: Eminem has landed this award each of the five times he’s been nominated, the most of any artist. He’s nominated again, this time for The Marshall Mathers LP 2, the sequel to his 2000 blockbuster. Another white rapper, Iggy Azalea, has had an even bigger year. Working against her? She isn’t a man (only one female, Lauryn Hill, has won in this category)—and, of course, she isn’t Eminem. Another nominee, Common, gave a stunning awards-season speech at the Golden Globes and is well on his way to an Oscar for Selma’s “Glory.” A more than respectable choice, then, for an upset. But how could NARAS sleep at night if they denied their favorite platinum-haired rabble rouser and his undeniable male whiteness? History wins again. Sam C. Mac

Best Country Album: Miranda Lambert has been nominated in this category twice before—and lost to Lady Antebellum and Zac Brown Band, respectively. But while Lambert’s Platinum didn’t get the Best Album of the Year nomination some were predicting, only Eric Church managed to match Lambert’s feat of scoring nominations in every single country category. Church being not quite up to the role of the blander, safer choice for which NARAS can justify snubbing Miranda (his album’s called The Outsiders, after all), we’re calling this one for Lambert. Third time’s a charm, right? Mac