Friday, January 29, 2010


I stopped caring what the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences thinks a long time ago (see why here), but this week a article picked winners in the four biggest Grammy categories -- Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist -- and while reading it today, I played along and took Billboard's survey, making my own projections.

I think Billboard is way off base because its predictions are based too much on the commercial impact of the nominees as well as the personal taste of whomever wrote the article when everybody knows that NARAS pretty much follows a formula that repeats itself year after year.

For example, Album of the Year: Beloved industry vet up against four fresher talents? Give it the geezer the Grammy! How else to explain recent wins by Robert Plant, Herbie Hancock, Ray Charles and Steely Dan over more commercially, creatively and culturally significant contenders?

But I digress (sort of). Here are my predictions.

Record of the Year
"Halo" by Beyoncé
"I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas
"Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon
"Poker Face" by Lady Gaga
"You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift

Beyoncé is nominated for the wrong record (though "Single Ladies" would be more 2010's signature video than single). Grammy never goes for fluff in this category (sorry, Black Eyed Peas) or edge (maybe next year, Lady Gaga, whose song actually deserves the award). If Kings of Leon were U2 or Coldplay or Green Day, they'd surely take the prize for "Use Somebody," but they're not. So that leaves Taylor Swift, who, after three hitmaking years and no Grammys, will finally be rewarded for her signature song (so far).

Song of the Year
"Poker Face" by Lady Gaga
"Pretty Wings" by Maxwell
"Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" by Beyoncé
"You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift
"Use Somebody" by Kings Of Leon
Unlike Record of the Year, which is based on overall sound and goes to the singer, producer and engineer and/or mixer, this is a songwriters' award, and this is where the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences gets to let its weakness for sappy and grand musical statements hang way out. That would leave Lady Gaga, who, truth be told, is too hip to be Grammy bait, out of the running. Beyoncé's entry would have stood a better chance in Record of the Year, but lyrically, it's a bit too lightweight to go all the way here. Maxwell is the annual "Huh?" and should be happy just to be nominated. Meanwhile, Kings Of Leon's song is missing the sap/grand statement factor. That leaves Taylor Swift, who will add to her 2010 Grammy haul here. I wonder what Kanye West will have to say about that.

Album of the Year
I Am... Sahsa Fierce by Beyoncé
Fearless by Taylor Swift
Big Whiskey And The Groogux King by the Dave Matthews Band
The Fame by Lady Gaga
The E.N.D. by the Black Eyed Peas
Which one of these nominees does not belong? Unlike the works by his fellow contenders, Dave Matthews' album was not a massive mainstream commercial success. But what gives him the edge is that unlike his fellow contenders, he's a geezer (relatively speaking) who before this year has never been much of a Grammy presence. It's his to lose.

Best New Artist
The Ting Tings
Zac Brown Band
Silversun Pickups
Keri Hilson
What a dreadfully dull shortlist, possibly the worst ever! It should be Zac Brown Band's, but Carrie Underwood and LeeAnn Rimes aside, country acts never take this one. (Even Shelby Lynn had to go pop to snag it). And both Carrie and LeeAnn were major crossover successes, which Zac Brown Band is not. Since this award generally sticks to the mainstream and gold or platinum acts (except in 2009, another weakish year in which Adele inexplicably triumphed over her fellow Brit songstress Duffy), neither The Ting Tings nor Silversun Pickups nor MGMT will be pulling an upset. Keri Hilson should start prepping her acceptance speech now.
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