10 February 2011

53rd Annual Grammy Awards: Predictions

Unlike the Academy Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards, I'm not going to make predictions in all categories because I simply don't listen to enough genres to even know about much of the nominees.  Some of the very names are entirely unknown to me.  Here's what I feel comfortable calling, though.  My predictions are underlined.

Category 4: Best New Artist
Justin Bieber
Drake
Florence & The Machine
Mumford & Sons
Esperanza Spalding

Your grandma knows who Biebs is, even if it's just from George Lopez constantly talking about him.  The Grammy's may not see much artistic merit in his music, but there can be no denying that 2010 belonged to him.

Category 11: Best Pop Vocal Album
My World 2.0, Justin Bieber
I Dreamed a Dream, Susan Boyle
The Fame Monster, Lady Gaga
Battle Studies, John Mayer
Teenage Dream, Katy Perry

I think this one comes down to Gaga vs. Perry, both of whom are also up for Album of the Year.  Glancing over the rest of this ballot tells me that Gaga has the edge with the voters.

Category 27: Best Urban/Alternative Performance
"Little One," Bilal
"Fuck You," Cee Lo Green
"Orion," Carolyn Malachi
"Tight Rope," Janelle Monae & Big Boi
"Still," Eric Roberson

When you're also up for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, you have a good chance of winning your genre-specific category, y'know?

Category 36: Best Female Country Vocal Performance
"Satisfied," Jewel
"The House That Built Me," Miranda Lambert
"Swingin'," LeAnn Rimes
"Temporary Home," Carrie Underwood
"I'd Love to Be Your Last," Gretchen Wilson

Typically, the Grammy voters shun mainstream country recordings.  But "The House That Built Me" was one of those rare hits that also earned a lot of critical acclaim.  I'm bettin' on Ran to take home the prize.

Category 37: Best Male Country Vocal Performance
"Macon," Jamey Johnson
"Cryin' for Me (Wayman's Song)," Toby Keith
"Turning Home," David Nail
"'Til Summer Comes Around," Keith Urban
"Gettin' You Home," Chris Young

Johnson's the go-to guy for music elitists who want to hold up someone they can respect as an artist.

Category 38: Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals
"Free," Zac Brown Band
"Elizabeth," Dailey & Vincent
"Need You Now," Lady Antebellum
"Little White Church," Little Big Town
"Where Rainbows Never Die," The SteelDrivers

Lady A are up for Album of the Year, which is pretty lofty for a mainstream country record these days.  They're in like Flint with the voters, but Zac Brown Band could pull an upset.

Miranda Lambert rear-ended Dierks Bentley.  For reals.
Category 39: Best Country Collaboration With Vocals
"Bad Angel," Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert & Jamey Johnson
"Pride (In the Name of Love)," Dierks Bentley, Del McCoury & The Punch Brothers
"As She's Walking Away," Zac Brown Band & Alan Jackson
"Hillbilly Bone," Blake Shelton & Trace Adkins
"I Run to You," Marty Stuart & Connie Smith

Oh, come on.  Ran and Johnson, backing Bentley on a strong cut from one of the year's best albums?  The only thing to consider is that Bentley may split the vote, leaving room for a Marty & Connie surprise.  Interestingly enough, the ACM's failed to nominate "Bad Angel" for Vocal Event of the Year.  Go figure.

Category 41: Best Country Song
"The Breath You Take," Casey Beathard, Dean Dillon & Jessie Jo Dillon, songwriters (George Strait)
"Free," Zac Brown, songwriter (Zac Brown Band)
"The House That Built Me," Tom Douglas & Allen Shamblin, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)
"I'd Love to Be Your Last," Rivers Rutherford, Annie Tate & Sam Tate, songwriters (Gretchen Wilson)
"If I Die Young," Kimberly Perry, songwriter (The Band Perry)

Again, the critics loved the song.  My dark horse pick in this category is "If I Die Young."  Sometimes voters go for the morbid.  Oh, and I skipped Category 40: Best Instrumental Country Song, because I have no idea what the nominees sound like.  I'm picking Marty Stuart to win that on name recognition alone.

Category 42: Best Country Album
Up on the Ridge, Dierks Bentley
You Get What You Give, Zac Brown Band
The Guitar Song, Jamey Johnson
Need You Now, Lady Antebellum
Revolution, Miranda Lambert

Holy damn!  That's an awfully solid assortment...and they're all mainstream releases, to boot!  Each has its merits, but I think it comes down to Revolution being a career album for Lambert vs. Lady A's enormous crossover success.  I'm going with Lambert, because I think voters will have seen her name a lot by the time they get to this category.  I personally would love to see Bentley win, but I think the commercial success of the competition is just enough of an edge that he'll miss out here.

I'm totally biased here, but this should win.
Category 64: Best Americana Album
The List, Rosanne Cash
Tin Can Trust, Los Lobos
Country Music, Willie Nelson
Band of Joy, Robert Plant
You Are Not Alone, Mavis Staples

Grammy voters who sympathize with Willie over his recent, much-publicized arrest for possession of marijuana may give the Red Headed Stranger the nod, but I think the smart money is on Cash.  The List takes twelve timeless songs and makes them personal; no small feat given how many times they've been interpreted over the years.  Plus, the liberal voters are likely to have appreciated her spat with Speaker of the House John Boehner last year.  Then, I'm biased.  Cash herself is picking Staples to win.

Category 70: Best Hawaiian Music Album
Huana Ke Aloha, Tia Carrere
Amy Hanaial'i and Slack Key Masters of Hawaii, Amy Hanaial'i and Slack Key Masters of Hawaii
Polani, Daniel Ho
The Legend, Ledward Ka'apana
Maui on My Mind - Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Jeff Peterson

No prediction here.  I just wanted to point out that Tia Carrere is still recording Hawaiian music.

Category 77: Best Spoken Word Album for Children
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl - The Definitive Edition, Selma Blair
The Best Candy in the Whole World, Bill Harley
Healthy Food for Thought: Good Enough to Eat, Various Artists
Julie Andrews' Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies, Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton
Nanny McPhee Returns, Emma Thompson

Anne Frank is more important, sure, but it's a chance to award Julie Andrews a Grammy.

Category 78: Best Spoken Word Album
American on Purpose, Craig Ferguson
The Bedwetter, Sarah Silverman
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Audiobook), Jon Stewart (With Samantha Bee, Wyatt Cenac, Jason Jones, John Oliver & Sigourney Weaver)
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future..., Michael J. Fox
This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection, Carol Burnett
The Woody Allen Collection: Mere Anarchy, Side Effects, Without Feathers, Getting Even,Woody Allen

I'm a huge fan of Craig Ferguson and I loved his memoirs, but come on.  You and I both know everyone looking at this ballot is amazed that Michael J. Fox managed to record the audiobook himself.


I learned last night that Michael J. Fox won a Grammy in this category last year.  I'm now predicting that voters will feel free this year to give the nod to Ferguson.  Many a guest on his Late Late Show has made a point of praising his memoirs, and I suspect that's representative of the Grammy voting community.

Category 81: Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Media
Crazy Heart, Various Artists
Glee: The Music, Volume 1, Glee Cast
Treme, Various Artists
True Blood, Various Artists
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Various Artists

I'm sure the others are fine, but Glee has supplanted video games as the latest music-themed pop craze.

Category 82: Best Score Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Media
Alice in Wonderland, Danny Elfman, composer
Avatar, James Horner, composer
Inception, Hans Zimmer, composer
Sherlock Holmes, Hans Zimmer, composer
Toy Story 3, Randy Newman, composer

Just a guess here, but after hearing so much in the low register, I think Newman's lighter score will feel much fresher to the ears of voters.

Category 83: Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media
"Down in New Orleans" (from The Princess and the Frog), Randy Newman, songwriter (Dr. John)
"I See You" (from Avatar), Simon Franglen, Kuk Harrell & James Horner, songwriters (Leona Lewis)
"Kiss Like Your Kiss" (from True Blood), Lucinda Williams, songwriter (Lucinda Williams & Elvis Costello)
"This City" (from Treme), Steve Earle, songwriter (Steve Earle)
"The Weary Kind" (from Crazy Heart), Ryan Bingham & T Bone Burnett, songwriters (Ryan Bingham)

I think voters might be tempted to give the nod to "Kiss Like Your Kiss" based on the star power of Lu and Costello, but I think the politics of Treme help Steve Earle--himself a critics's darling of late--get the nod.

Category 108: Best Short Form Music Video
"Ain't No Grave/The Johnny Cash Project," Johnny Cash
"Love the Way You Lie" (Explicit Version), Eminem & Rihanna
"Stylo," Gorillaz, Mos Def & Bobby Womack
"Fuck You," Cee Lo Green
"Bad Romance," Lady Gaga

There's always going to be support for a Johnny Cash release, but I don't think "Ain't No Grave" is going to garner enough votes.  The novelty of "Fuck You" is appealing, but I think it comes down to the star power (and sex appeal) of Eminem & Rihanna vs. the artistic curiosity that is Lady Gaga.  Going with Marshall Mathers and the chick from Barbados, but I think it'll be close.

There you have it.  Those are all my predictions for this year's Grammy Awards.  You can view the entire ballot here, including all 109 categories.