by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
THE 55th GRAMMY AWARDS
February 10 (8 p.m. PT)
With Adele out of the running, at least in the major categories, no one is guaranteed a clean sweep at this year's Grammy Awards, set for this Sunday at L.A.'s Staples Center. And though newcomers Frank Ocean and fun. are each up for six gramophones, including three head-to-head battles, neither is expected to claim more than a few. Ocean and fun. are both scheduled to perform on the telecast, as are Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Kelly Clarkson, Elton John with Ed Sheeran, Carrie Underwood, Jack White, Alicia Keys, Maroon 5, Dierks Bentley with Miranda Lambert, Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, and Sting with Rihanna and Bruno Mars. Presenters include Beyonce, Prince, Katy Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Jennifer Lopez, Hunter Hayes, Kaley Cuoco, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Keith Urban. The bulk of the awards will be handed out during a pre-ceremony, followed by the televised broadcast. Here are my picks and predictions in eight close races.
RECORD OF THE YEAR
Nominees: 'Lonely Boy' (The Black Keys), 'Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)' (Kelly Clarkson), 'We Are Young' (fun. featuring Janelle Monáe), 'Somebody That I Used to Know' (Gotye featuring Kimbra), 'Thinkin' 'Bout You' (Frank Ocean), 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together' (Taylor Swift)
Should win: 'We Are Young.' A well-crafted mega-hit from a band that came out of nowhere. Years from now, it's the one record from this bunch that we'll actually remember the words to. Will win: 'Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You).' Ocean has a better chance of nabbing AOTY, which means Grammy voters will toss this bone to previous two-time winner Clarkson. But watch out for 'Somebody That I Used to Know,' a warm and fuzzy pop tune that usually ends up winning.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Nominees: El Camino (The Black Keys), Some Nights (fun.), Babel (Mumford & Sons), Channel Orange (Frank Ocean), Blunderbuss (Jack White)
Should/will win: Channel Orange. My money's on Ocean, although everyone else is predicting a Mumford & Sons victory. Channel Orange was not only widely praised by critics and fans alike, it also dug R&B out of a fluff period (e.g., Chris Brown, R. Kelly). El Camino and Blunderbuss shouldn't be underestimated, though.
SONG OF THE YEAR
Nominees: 'The A Team' (Ed Sheeran, songwriter), 'Adorn' (Miguel Pimentel, songwriter), 'Call Me Maybe' (multiple songwriters), 'Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)' (multiple songwriters), 'We Are Young' (fun. and Jeff Bhasker, songwriters)
Should win: 'Adorn.' Another R&B newbie, the singularly named Miguel, is a dark horse in this field. Miracle, please. Will win: 'Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You).' Clarkson's inspirational power-pop hit seems to be the runaway favorite, although 'We Are Young' is a viable contender.
BEST NEW ARTIST
Nominees: Alabama Shakes, fun., Hunter Hayes, The Lumineers, Frank Ocean
Should/will win: Frank Ocean is a lock. In another year, any of the other four nominees would be a strong contender.
BEST POP DUO/GROUP
Nominees: 'Shake It Out' (Florence + the Machine), 'We Are Young' (fun. featuring Janelle Monáe), 'Somebody That I Used to Know' (Gotye featuring Kimbra), 'Sexy and I Know It' (LMFAO), 'Payphone' (Maroon 5 and Wiz Khalifa)
Should win: 'We Are Young.' I'd love to see Monáe on the podium, even though her contribution is more of a cameo than featured vocals. Will win: 'We Are Young' or 'Somebody That I Used to Know.' The battle is between this pair of colossal singles, and it'll go down to the wire.
BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM
Nominees: Stronger (Kelly Clarkson), Ceremonials (Florence + the Machine), Some Nights (fun.), Overexposed (Maroon 5), The Truth About Love (Pink)
Should win: Ceremonials. Released late in 2011, it's almost twice as good as any of its rivals. Will win: Some Nights. Very rarely does an AOTY contender not win its own genre category. Clarkson could score an upset, but I'm going with the New York trio to take it.
BEST ROCK ALBUM
Nominees: El Camino (The Black Keys), Mylo Xyloto (Coldplay), The 2nd Law (Muse), Wrecking Ball (Bruce Springsteen), Blunderbuss (Jack White)
Should win: El Camino. A modern rock classic that's slightly better than White's latest work. Will win: El Camino or Blunderbuss. Another nail-biter between two credible rock acts, and there's an outside chance veteran Springsteen could knock 'em both out.
BEST RAP ALBUM
Nominees: Take Care (Drake), Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Part 1 (Lupe Fiasco), Life Is Good (Nas), Undun (The Roots), God Forgives, I Don't (Rick Ross), Based on a T.R.U. Story (2 Chainz)
Should/will win: Take Care. Many feel Drake was overlooked for an AOTY nom, so here's where he'll be redeemed.
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