The Grammys. Who Will Win? Who Should Win?

What's an awards show without "experts" making predictions? (Answer: The American Music Awards.) So in advance of Sunday's Grammy Awards J. Freedom and I tackled some of the major categories, and we now offer our thoughts on who will win (David's predictions) and who should win (J. Freedom's predictions). A few notes before we begin: 1) David's prognosticating abilities peaked at an extremely early age when at 6 years old he correctly predicted the Fennis Dembo-led Wyoming Cowboys to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, en route to winning his dad's office pool. It's been all downhill since then. 2) J. Freedom has a strong Amy Winehouse bias, dating back to well before she became a trainwreck tabloid queen. So, it goes without saying that he's giving her serious should-win love. And now, on to the predictions. Your picks? In the comments, of course.


If there was a Grammy for best Sports Illustrated Cover of the Year, here's your easy winner. (AP/Sports Illustrated))

Record Of The Year
(Award to the Artist and to the Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s) and/or Mixer(s), if other than the artist.)

Irreplaceable
Beyoncé
Beyoncé Knowles, S. Smith & Stargate, producers; Jim Caruana, Jason Goldstein & Geoff Rice, engineers/mixers

The Pretender
Foo Fighters
Gil Norton, producer; Adrian Bushby & Rich Costey, engineers/mixers

Umbrella
Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z
Kuk Harrell, Terius "The Dream" Nash & C. "Tricky" Stewart, producers; Kuk Harrell & Manny Marroquin, engineers/mixers

What Goes Around...Comes Around
Justin Timberlake
Nate (Danja) Hills, Timbaland & Justin Timberlake, producers; Jimmy Douglass & Timbaland, engineers/mixers

Rehab
Amy Winehouse
Mark Ronson, producer; Tom Elmhirst, Vaughan Merrick, Dom Morley, Mark Ronson & Gabriel Roth, engineers/mixers

Who Will Win: Rihanna. I'm feeling a split in the Record/Song of the Year categories, with Rihanna taking this one for performance.

Who Should Win: The ubiquitous Rihanna and Beyonce singles shared first place in the popularity contest; but Winehouse topped them both with a terrific vocal. And Ronson's deft production touch sealed the deal.

Album Of The Year
(Award to the Artist(s) and to the Album Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s)/Mixer(s) & Mastering Engineer(s), if other than the artist.)

Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
Foo Fighters
Gil Norton, producer; Adrian Bushby & Rich Costey, engineers/mixers; Brian Gardner, mastering engineer

These Days
Vince Gill
John Anderson, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Diana Krall & The Del McCoury Band, featured artists; Vince Gill, John Hobbs & Justin Niebank, producers; Neal Cappellino & Justin Niebank, engineers/mixers; Adam Ayan, mastering engineer

River: The Joni Letters
Herbie Hancock
Leonard Cohen, Norah Jones, Joni Mitchell, Corinne Bailey Rae, Luciana Souza & Tina Turner, featured artists; Herbie Hancock & Larry Klein, producers; Helik Hadar, engineer/mixer; Bernie Grundman, mastering engineer

Graduation
Kanye West
Dwele, Lil Wayne, Mos Def & T-Pain, featured artists; Warryn "Baby Dubb" Campbell, Mike Dean, Eric Hudson, Brian "Allday" Miller, Nottz, Patrick "Plain Pat" Reynolds, Gee Roberson, Toomp & Kanye West, producers; Craig Bauer, Bruce Buechner, Andrew Dawson, Mike Dean, Anthony Kilhoffer, Greg Koller, Manny Marroquin, Nottz Raw, Tony Rey, Seiji Sekine, Paul Sheehy & D. Sloan, engineers/mixers; Vlado Meller, mastering engineer

Back To Black
Amy Winehouse
Mark Ronson & Salaam Remi, producers; Tom Elmhirst, Vaughan Merrick, Dom Morley, Gary Noble, Derek Pacuk, Matt Paul, Mark Ronson, Gabriel Roth & Franklin Socorro, engineers/mixers; Stuart Hawkes, mastering engineer

Who Will Win: Kanye West. Herbie and Vince were winners just by getting nominated, that Foos album won't get love across the board, leaving it to be Amy vs. Kanye. Maybe if Amy could have held it together over the course of the year she would have taken it, but Kanye is somehow the less annoying choice, and it makes sense he'd win with his weakest album to date.

Who Should Win: Winehouse's "Back to Black" is a front-to-back knockout, from the writing and vocals to the production and musical performances. It's the most gripping album of the bunch, and the one I'll still be listening to, without regrets or I-liked-whaaaaa? embarrassment further on up the road.


Amy Winehouse, doing what she probably does a lot of these days. (Universal Music Group)

Song Of The Year
(A Songwriter(s) Award. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.)

Before He Cheats
Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins, songwriters (Carrie Underwood)

Hey There Delilah
Tom Higgenson, songwriter (Plain White T's)

Like A Star
Corinne Bailey Rae, songwriter (Corinne Bailey Rae)

Rehab
Amy Winehouse, songwriter (Amy Winehouse)

Umbrella
Shawn Carter, Kuk Harrell, Terius "Dream" Nash & Christopher Stewart,
songwriters (Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z)

Who Will Win: Amy Winehouse. She'll get extra credit in this field since she wrote the song.

Who Should Win: Nash deserves a pat on the back for "Umbrella's" insinuating hook, and Kear and Tompkins crafted the most classic song in the lot. But Winehouse's statement of defiance is a stroke of pathological genius.

Best New Artist
(For a new artist who releases, during the Eligibility Year, the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist.)

Feist

Ledisi

Paramore

Taylor Swift

Amy Winehouse

Who Will Win: Feist. Maybe Swift and Feist will split the non-Winehouse vote, but Feist's brand of everywhereness is less despicable (but slightly more annoying) than Amy's. The voters might feel that Amy has enough going against her these days that they won't feel the need to burden her with the Best New Artist curse.

Who Should Win: Why get in the way of a good major-category sweep? This has to be Winehouse, even if her future - in life, as in music - is unclear.

(More categories after the jump...)

Best Pop Vocal Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)

Lost Highway
Bon Jovi

The Reminder
Feist

It Won't Be Soon Before Long
Maroon 5

Memory Almost Full
Paul McCartney

Back To Black
Amy Winehouse

Who Will Win: Feist. I'm thinking the Amy backlash will hit pretty hard. Everyone who hears Feist (except for me, of course) falls in love with her, and she just seems like a Grammy-approved talent.

Who Should Win: Winehouse doesn't really belong in this category (it's modern vintage soul, not pop), so while it's the best of the bunch, it probably shouldn't win here. Instead, the vote goes to Maroon 5, whose latest collection of songs about Jane and other girls is loaded with killer pop hooks.


Will the Boss work his "Magic" at the Grammys? (By Richard Drew -- Associated Press)

Best Rock Album
(Vocal or Instrumental. Includes Hard Rock and Metal.)

Daughtry
Daughtry

Revival
John Fogerty

Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
Foo Fighters

Magic
Bruce Springsteen

Sky Blue Sky
Wilco

Who Will Win: Part of me wants to say Daughtry, since the industry rarely passes on an opportunity to give a big push to a new star, but the Boss's name recognition will prove too much to overcome.

Who Should Win: My opinion about Springsteen's album has been changing since I first heard it, and I love that Fogerty album. But in good light, "Magic" just looks too appealing to pass up.

Best Alternative Music Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

Alright, Still...
Lily Allen

Neon Bible
Arcade Fire

Volta
Bjork

Wincing The Night Away
The Shins

Icky Thump
The White Stripes

Who Will Win: For most of us the Arcade Fire are from a few hype cycles ago, but to Grammy voters they are still relatively fresh. Plus, they actually sold a lot of records and proved to be a good touring draw, so they'll get the nod.

Who Should Win: In the battle of the hard and heavy twosome versus the big group with big ideas, the visceral kick of Jack and Meg White wins out over the sprawling grandeur of Arcade Fire.

Best Contemporary R&B Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)

Konvicted
Akon

Just Like You
Keyshia Cole

Fantasia
Fantasia

East Side Story
Emily King

Because Of You
Ne-Yo

Who Will Win: Tough call here in a category without any major breakthrough stars except for Akon, who seems unlikely to take the prize. I'll say Keyshia Cole, but I'm basing that on nothing.

Who Should Win: Cole's "Just Like You" is the album Mary J. Blige should have made (and I mean that in the best possible way), but the nod here goes to Ne-Yo, a thoroughly modern guy with an R&B classicist's sensibilities.

Best Rap Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)

Finding Forever
Common

Kingdom Come
Jay-Z

Hip Hop Is Dead
Nas

T.I. vs T.I.P.
T.I.

Graduation
Kanye West

Who Will Win: Definitely one of the most competitive and highest quality categories. Nas and T.I. are the clear underdogs, Common only has a slightly better chance. It will come down to Jay-Z vs. Kanye and I think this is the year Kanye finally collects a bunch of trophies.

Who Should Win: I think Malitz had too much "special spinach dip" at his Super Bowl party. This is the highest quality category? West's album was the best mainstream major-label release in 2007 rap by default. Tough year for the genre, so I'm writing in Lil Wayne for his mixtape work.

(Addendum: J. Freedom's kinda right; I thought it was "American Gangster," not "Kingdom Come" on the nominee list, which makes this slightly less appealing.)

Best Country Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

Long Trip Alone
Dierks Bentley

These Days
Vince Gill

Let It Go
Tim McGraw

5th Gear
Brad Paisley

It Just Comes Natural
George Strait

Who Will Win: Gill was the only one nominated in the general Album of the Year category so he's the logical pick. Then again, I didn't pick Foo Fighters to win in the Rock category.

Who Should Win: Miranda Lambert! Oh, wait - not nominated in this category. Silly Recording Academy. Gill's daring four-disc, genre-jumping set is very good, indeed, but Paisley is working at an incredibly high level right now, making some of the best, most interesting music in mainstream country. So he's the pick.


Patty Griffin's "Children Running Through" deserves all the accolades it gets. (By Sarah L. Voisin -- The Washington Post)

Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

The Calling
Mary Chapin Carpenter

My Name Is Buddy
Ry Cooder

Washington Square Serenade
Steve Earle

Children Running Through
Patty Griffin

Orphans
Tom Waits

Who Will Win: Some serious competition here between Carptenter, Earle, Griffin and Waits (sorry, Ry). Grffin's album is clearly superior to Carpenter's, and Earle and Waits will probably split the bearded troubadour vote, leaving Patty with a clear path to victory.

Who Should Win: In any other year, Carpenter is the leading contender here. But "Children Running Through" is a career album for Griffin and not only the best of this bunch but one of the very best of 2007, in any category. Her voice is a thing of beauty, as is her songwriting.

Best Polka Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

Polka's Revenge
Brave Combo

Bulletproof Polkas
John Gora & Gorale

Polka Freak Out
Bubba Hernandez & Alex Meixner

Dueling Polkas
Walter Ostanek And His Band & Brian Sklar And The Western Senators

Come Share The Wine
Jimmy Sturr And His Orchestra

Who Will Win: Jimmy Sturr, because he was the only one who didn't have to put "polka" in his album title.

Who Should Win: Jimmy Sturr, if only because he's the Harlem Globetrotters of the category.

By David Malitz |  February 8, 2008; 8:58 AM ET Grammys
Previous: They Played What, Where? Vol. 1, No. 3 | Next: The Two-Minute Man, Episode 13: Finally, Some Women

Comments

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I'm picking Bubba Hernandez's Polka Freak Out in a late quarter upset over Jimmy Sturr. You heard it here first.

Posted by: shf | February 8, 2008 11:20 AM

@shf: Wanna bet? Bubba is +190 on the moneyline. You'd be better off betting that, oh, I dunno - Alicia Keys will open the telecast by performing a duet with Frank Sinatra.

Posted by: J. Freedom | February 8, 2008 11:46 AM

It would be a LOT cooler if Alicia Keys performed a duet with Bob Dylan. And not just because Bob is still alive.

Posted by: Ronnie | February 8, 2008 12:45 PM

J. Free, I'll take that bet. Let's make this polka grammy interesting.

fyi, "Let's make this polka grammy interesting" returned no hits on google.

Posted by: shf | February 8, 2008 1:53 PM

Grammys? Who cares?!? We want the Two-Minute Man!!!

Posted by: Globe Trotter | February 8, 2008 3:59 PM

Foo Fighters!!!!! Rich Costey!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Gale | February 10, 2008 12:07 PM

wow, u were sooo wrong u should be fired and apologize. DAMN u were WAY WRONG!!!

Posted by: johnny | February 10, 2008 11:39 PM

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