Predictions on who will win what in the biggest categories, based on industry hype and a little guessing about the academy’s voters.
Album of the Year
Eminem’s Recovery vs. Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now, Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster, and Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream.
The Academy loves albums whose songs mostly carry into one cohesive theme. Even though Arcade Fire’s concept album about adulthood is a critical darling, the trophy is going to Eminem. His triumphant return to both the top of the charts and top of critics’ lists will be unbeatable.
Record of the Year
Cee-Lo Green’s “F*** You” vs. B.o.B. feat. Bruno Mars’ “Nothin’ on You”, Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now”, Eminem feat. Rihanna’s “Love The Way You Lie”, and Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind”.
With all the hubbub surrounding a nomination with a title you can’t say on TV, the Grammys are powerless to resist the media moment of when it wins. The only question here is if CBS will weasel out of it by calling it “Bleep You”?
Song of the Year
Eminem feat. Rihanna’s “Love The Way You Lie” vs. Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now”, Cee-Lo Green’s “F*** You”, Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me”, and Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs’ “Beg Steal Or Borrow”.
A songwriter’s award, the academy will likely consider “F*** You” as too lighthearted for such a serious honor. Meanwhile, “Need You Now”’s similarity to the Alan Parsons Project’s “Eye In The Sky” will decrease its odds. Therefore, look for Eminem to continue his awards sweep.
Best Male Pop Vocal
Adam Lambert’s “Whataya Want From Me” vs. Michael Jackson’s “This Is It”, Bruno Mars’ “Just yhe Way You Are”, Michael Buble’s “Haven’t Met You Yet”, and John Mayer’s “Half of My Heart”.
Normally, I’d think Jackson’s posthumous hit was a sure thing, but the song was quietly criticized as not being up to par with his previous material. The voters might just throw us a curveball by honoring someone who wasn’t invited to this year’s AMAs (the Grammy's biggest competition), probably due to his controversial performance there last year.
Best Female Pop Vocal
Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” vs. Sara Bareilles’ “King of Anything”, Norah Jones’ “Chasing Pirates”, Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”, and Beyonce’s “Halo” (live)
She won’t carry away as many trophies as she did at last year’s show, but this is definitely her category.
Best New Artist
Florence + The Machine vs. Mumford & Sons, Esperanza Spalding, Justin Bieber, and Drake.
I still think the Academy is too stuffy to honor the two biggest names on this list, Bieber and Drake. However, they don’t want to seem too elitist, so quirky yet still covered on Glee’s Florence is a good guess.
Best Contemporary R&B Album
Usher’s Raymond V Raymond vs. Janelle Monae’s The ArchAndroid, Ryan Leslie’s Transition, R. Kelly’s Untitled, and Chris Brown’s Graffiti
The voters will most likely pick the most mainstream yet uncontroversial choice, giving Usher the nod.
Best Country Album
Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now vs. Miranda Lambert’s Revolution, Zac Brown Band’s You Get What You Give, Jamey Johnson’s The Guitar Song, and Dierks Bentley’s Up on the Ridge.
The group will probably lose its biggest nominations, but right now, Lady Antebellum is country music’s biggest group. I would be extremely surprised if they didn’t win this one.
Best Rap Album
Eminem’s Recovery vs. B.o.B’s The Adventures of Bobby Ray, Drake’s Thank Me Later, Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3, and the Roots’ How I Got Over.
Also look for Eminem to completely sweep the rap category, despite strong competition from potential future Grammy-winners B.o.B and Drake.
Best Country Song
Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” vs. Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now”, the Zac Brown Band’s “Free“, the Band Perry’s “If I Die Young”, George Strait’s “The Breath You Take”, and Gretchen Wilson’s “I’d Love to Be Your Last”.
More voters might opt for the more traditional country sound of Lambert’s tune over the pop/ adult-contemporary flavorings of the likely runner-up, “Need You Now”.
Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance
Robert Plant and the Band of Joy’s “Silver Rider” vs. Paul McCartney’s “Helter Skelter” (live), Neil Young’s “Angry World”, Eric Clapton’s “Run Back to Your Side”, and John Mayer’s “Crossroads”.
Though I would really like to see McCartney’s energetic live performance get the recognition, it’s more likely that the voters will choose Plant and his group after the lavish critical praise they received last year.
Best Dance Recording
Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” vs. La Roux’s “In for the Kill”, Goldfrapp’s “Rocket”, Lady Gaga’s “Dance in the Dark”, and Rihanna’s “Only Girl (In the World)”.
Critics and industry insiders are captivated with the underappreciated Robyn and are trying their hardest to make her 2011’s big new artist. This will be her first step towards achieving that goal.
Best Alternative Music Album
Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs vs. The Black Keys’ Brothers, Broken Bells’ Broken Bells, Vampire Weekend’s Contra, and Band Of Horses’ Infinite Arms.
The much-loved concept album might miss out on its biggest nominations, but it’ll most likely win this award.