I have a confession to make: I’m lousy at making Grammy predictions. I waffle and waffle and seem to come up with almost any plausible reason why everyone in the category should win. Although I can say with almost 100% that Ne-Yo will not win album of the year. I think… well, maybe he has a shot. See what I mean?
As I mention in my MSN.com predictions piece, the tricky part about predicting the winners in the four main categories-best album, record, song and new artist of the year-is because the entire eligible membership votes for those categories, it can automatically throw the lead to the more mainstream candidates. Also, once a voting member, always a voting member, so you have people going “What’s so little about Lil Wayne? What’s an M.I.A.?,” casting ballots. However, the Recording Academy has made an effort to recruit younger voters and that’s one reason why we’re even seeing such artists in the big four categories.
That said, here are my picks for the top four categories, as predicted for Hitfix and for MSN.com. I’m also part of a panel of pundits for the Los Angeles Times’ Buzzmeter and it would appear that, as my Hitfix editor Greg likes to say, I am alone on the island in picking Coldplay for album of the year. Most critics are picking Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.
The Grammy Awards air Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.
Record of the year
“Chasing Pavements,” Adele
“Viva La Vida,” Coldplay
“Bleeding Love,” Leona Lewis
“Paper Planes, ” M.I.A.
“Please Read the Letter,” Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
The Scoop: Because this award goes to the artist, producer and engineer, not the songwriter, it’s about looking at every aspect of the recording: the performance, the production, the sonic quality. “Paper Planes,” which got a second life via its usage in the trailer for “Pineapple Express,” boasts a clever production. Plus, M.I.A.’s vocal delivery sets it apart from everything else on radio. Fair warning: “Please Read the Letter,” which is an oddball choice for this category anyway given its lack of any mainstream air play, could pull an upset, similar to 2005 when “Here We Go Again,” by Ray Charles and Norah Jones snatched this award. “Chasing Pavements” is lovely, but it’s not going to win. That leaves “Bleeding Love,” one of the biggest hits of the year vs. “Viva La Vida,” which is Coldplay’s best song since “Clocks,” which, by the way, won this category in 2006. With its pulsing strings, beautiful melody and clever lyrics, “Viva La Vida” takes it.
Winner: “Viva La Vida.”
Album of the Year
“Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends,” Coldplay
“Tha Carter III,” Lil Wayne
“Year of the Gentleman, ” Ne-Yo
“Raising Sand,” Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
“In Rainbows,” Radiohead
The Scoop: The kneejerk guess here is Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” as a sure thing with Robert Plant & Alison Krauss’s “Raising Sand” as a possible spoiler. The Recording Academy loves Krauss; she’s won 21 Grammys, more than any other woman. And she’s won in this category before as one of the artists on the “O Brother, Where Art Thou” soundtrack. It’s worth noting that there are some surprising omissions here, including Alicia Keys’ “As I Am” and the Eagles’ “Long Road out of Eden.” The Grammy voters got it right with “Tha Carter lll” and “In Rainbows.” Lil Wayne is one of the most creative and prolific artists making music; Radiohead just moves from strength to strength. “Year of the Gentleman” is a worthy contender, but it’s not going to win; Coldplay is just too powerful this year.
Winner: “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends,” Coldplay
Song of the Year
“American Boy,” William Adams, Keith Harris, Josh Lopez, Caleb Speir, John Stephens, Estelle Swaray & Kanye West, songwriters (Estelle featuring Kanye West)
“Chasing Pavements,” Adele Adkins & Eg White, songwriter (Adele)
“I’m Yours,” Jason Mraz, songwriter (Jason Mraz)
“Love Song,” Sara Bareilles, songwriter (Sara Bareilles)
“Viva La Vida,” Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion & Chris Martin, songwriters (Coldplay)
The Scoop: This award goes to the songwriter or songwriters. Right away, “American Boy” comes out. Not because it’s not catchy, but it’s a better record of the year candidate than song of the year. Plus, the Grammy voters aren’t going to go for a song that took seven people to write (it includes samples from Will.I.Am’s “Impatient” and Boyz Noise’ “Down.” “I’m Yours” and “Love Song” are awfully slight for song of the year winners (although not nominees- other lightweight hits such as “Hey There Delilah,” “I Want It That Way” and “Achy Breaky Heart” were given the nod in the past). In history is any predictor, the Grammy has overwhelmingly gone to a ballad or mid-tempo tune, meaning both “Chasing Pavements” and “Viva La Vida” are in the voters’ sweet spot. What did I say about a sweep by Coldplay?
The Winner: “Viva La Vida”
Best New Artist
The Scoop: There’s a little bit of something for everyone in this category: sultry-sounding British female singer/songwriters with Adele and Duffy, teen idols who write their own songs and play their own instruments with the Jonas Bros., upstart country trio Lady Antebellum and R&B up-and-comer Jazmine Sullivan. Sullivan is this year’s equivalent of Ledesi: Many people didn’t know who she was when the nominations were announced- despite the fact she’s had a No. 1 hit on the R&B charts-but they do now. In many ways, she’s the big winner no matter what the envelope says. The Grammys aren’t going to award the Jonas Bros. with so many critically acclaimed artists in the field (voters similarly brought Hanson to the big dance in 1998 only to have the trio lose to Paula Cole). Duffy and Adele may split the vote. Six months ago, Duffy would have had the lead, but the momentum has shifted as Adele’s star has been rising.
The Winner: Adele
Here are some additional category recaps — with winners — you should check out.
Get all your Grammy Awards news as it happens this Sunday on HitFix.
Who do you think is going to the big winner Sunday night?