The 54th Grammys: who will win (Adele) and who won't (Lady Gaga)
From power pop to power ballads, rock anthems to rap staples, the nominees of the 54th Grammy Awards, which airs this Sunday night, sees no dearth of great music. There's little doubt that it will be Adele's night, but others, like Kanye West and Mumford & Sons, could win big too. Continue reading for a full breakdown of which acts we think will win and lose in the most notable Grammy categories.
Record Of The Year
"Rolling In The Deep" by Adele "Holocene" by Bon Iver "Grenade" by Bruno Mars "The Cave" by Mumford & Sons "Firework" by Katy Perry
In past Grammy history, Record Of The Year has gone to the singular song that has defined a year of music or break ground in wonderfully exciting new sonic ways. That's why it's so strange to see a song like "Grenade" up here with other greats. And while it's good to see Katy Perry get the recognition she deserves this year, her motivational anthem "Firework" doesn't hold a candle to the inescapable "Rolling In The Deep," which led way to the pivotal album 21. Expect Adele to sweep this one.
Album Of The Year
21 by Adele Wasting Light by Foo Fighters Born This Way by Lady Gaga Doo-Wops & Hooligans by Bruno Mars Loud by Rihanna
Somewhat surprisingly, Bruno Mars' Doo-Wops & Hooligans saw another nomination in this category, but he won't take this one home either. Neither will Foo Fighters. If Lady Gaga wasn't going against the biggest album of 2011 -- and so far 2012 -- she might have taken the Grammy, but instead expect Album Of The Year to also go to Adele.
Song Of The Year
"All Of The Lights" by Kanye West feat. Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie. Songwriters: Jeff Bhasker, Stacy Ferguson (Fergie), Malik Jones, Warren Trotter and Kanye West. "The Cave" by Mumford & Sons Songwriters: Ted Dwane, Ben Lovett, Marcus Mumford and Country Winston "Grenade" by Bruno Mars Songwriters: Brody Brown, Claude Kelly, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Bruno Mars and Andrew Wyatt "Holocene" by Bon Iver Songwriter: Justin Vernon. "Rolling In The Deep" by Adele Songwriters: Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
Strictly an award for songwriters, this one could go one of three ways: "The Cave," "Holocene" or "Rolling In The Deep." With all of the Adele for adoration this year, it will likely go to her, but the dark horse that is "Holocene" could net Bon Iver a Grammy.
Best New Artist
The Band Perry Bon Iver J. Cole Nicki Minaj Skrillex
An unexpected "WTF" to see Skrillex nominated as a Best New Artist. Good for him for being nominated, but don't expect him to win. Considering that the Recording Academy gave the Grammy to Esperanza Spalding (who?!) last year, the Academy may take one of two approaches: give the Grammy to Nicki Minaj, because of her talent as both a main player and a featured one on countless songs in 2011, or go with Bon Iver for developing his own unique, in-the-backwoods style sound. We say it will go to Minaj.
Best Pop Solo Performance
"Someone Like You" by Adele "You And I" by Lady Gaga "Grenade" by Bruno Mars "Firework" by Katy Perry "F***in' Perfect" by Pink
Expect Adele to nab this Grammy, too. "You And I" serves as a staple of Lady Gaga's excellent vocal chops when not drenched in filters and vocoders, but, since this is a Grammy recognizing singing talents, Adele, the better singer, will take the title with her sparse, piano-and-vocal showcase that is "Someone Like You." (Why "Someone Like You" didn't receive a nomination for Record Of The Year is beyond us, but it certainly deserved one.)
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
"Body And Soul" by Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse "Dearest" by The Black Keys (from Rave On Buddy Holly tribute album) "Paradise" by Coldplay "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster The People "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 & Christina Aguilera
Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera won't see this Grammy, nor will Foster The People. Tony Bennett and the late Amy Winehouse may have a slight chance, but our vote is on "Dearest" by The Black Keys because it does justice to a Buddy Holly song all the while sounding like an entirely new song -- just the way covers should be.
Best Pop Vocal Album
21 by Adele The Lady Killer by Cee Lo Green Born This Way by Lady Gaga Doo-Wops & Hooligans by Bruno Mars Loud by Rihanna
Congratulations to Rihanna for even being nominated here, because Loud's sexual coos and come-ons certainly don't translate to what's expected from past Best Vocal Album nominees. Based on the merits of this award, which also highlights the best vocal talent, Lady Gaga will again lose out to Adele. There's just no competing with a woman whose every song emotes in a new, colorful way -- not because of production tactics, like on Born This Way or Doo-wops & Hooligans, but because of the raw vocal talent driving the songs in the first place.
Best Dance Recording
"Raise Your Weapon" by Deadmau5 and Greta Svabo Bech "Barbra Streisand" by Duck Sauce "Sunshine" by David Guetta & Avicii "Call Your Girlfriend" by Robyn "Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites" by Skrillex "Save The World" by Swedish House Mafia
Ah, this one is tough. Thanks to a rich field of dance talent this year, the nominees are ripe for the choosing. "Barbra Streisand" is out because it's too disposable. "Save The World," though excellent, doesn't have a strong enough melody for a category that, while labeled "dance," has historically recognized pop songs with dance overtones -- like last year when it awarded this Grammy to "Only Girl (In The World)" by Rihanna. Expect "Call Your Girlfriend" by Robyn, the standout among nominees here, to take it this year.
Best Dance/Electronica Album
Zonoscope by Cut Copy 4x4=12 by Deadmau5 Nothing But The Beat by David Guetta Body Talk, Pt. 3 by Robyn Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites by Skrillex
From a creative standpoint, David Guetta's formula is recycled for each song on Nothing But The Beat. And Zonoscope won't receive more than this nomination, no matter how deserving. Robyn's Body Talk, Pt. 3, though interesting, boasts songs that sound too similar to each other for any major distinctions. So expect 4x4=12 by Deadmau5 to grab this Grammy. Sure most other nominees, besides Guetta, are deserving, but it's 4x4=12 that laid the groundwork for the dubstep and trademark Deadmau5 sounds popping up everywhere now.
Best Rock Album
Rock 'N' Roll Party Honoring Les Paul by Jeff Beck Wasting Light by Foo Fighters Come Around Sundown by Kings Of Leon I'm With You by Red Hot Chili Peppers The Whole Love by Wilco
Lots of strong talent and work in this category -- with great rock offerings from Foo Fighters and Jeff Beck and mediocre offerings from Kings Of Leon and Red Hot Chili Peppers -- but it's Wilco's The Whole Love that will take it. With a collection of songs that, together, make up for a cohesive blast of rock, it will be Wilco's year for the gold. Don't believe us? Just listen to "I Might" or "Whole Love."
Mumford & Sons
Best Rock Performance
"Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall" by Coldplay "Down By The Water" by The Decemberists "Walk" by Foo Fighters "The Cave" by Mumford & Sons "Lotus Flower" by Radiohead
"Lotus Flower," to many, was an oddball letdown, and "Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall" is too poppy for the rock vote. Thus, the odds are in Mumford & Sons' favor. Plus, it doesn't hurt that "The Cave" is a twangy rush of guitar folk-rock matched by the power of Marcus Mumford's vocal, which has this overwhelming communal and relatable vibe unmatched by Foo Fighters. Dark horse: The Decemberists, whose "Down By The Water" bears striking resemblance to an R.E.M. song in all the best ways.
Best Rap Performance
"Look At Me Now" by Chris Brown feat. Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes "Otis" by Jay-Z & Kanye West "The Show Goes On" by Lupe Fiasco "Moment 4 Life" by Nicki Minaj feat. Drake "Black And Yellow" by Wiz Khalifa
Sorry Kanye, but Busta Rhymes had the tightest rap EVER during "Look At Me Now." If this Grammy doesn't go to that song on the merits of Rhymes's performance alone, Chris Brown's sing-rapping also deserves some recognition -- beating out Nicki Minaj's -- and Wiz Khalifa could take a page out of Lil Wayne's smooth style book.
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
"Party" by Beyoncé feat. André 3000 "I'm On One" by DJ Khaled feat. Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne "I Need A Doctor" by Dr. Dre feat. Eminem & Sklar Grey "What's My Name?" by Rihanna feat. Drake "Motivation" by Kelly Rowland feat. Lil Wayne "All Of The Lights" by Kanye West feat. Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie
Throwing multiple major hip-hip acts on a single track does not a Grammy make. "All Of The Lights," though excellent, serves as a better Kanye West track than a collaboration track. Same goes for "I'm On One" as a Drake track and "I Need A Doctor" as an Eminem track. There's little collaboration on "Party" either, for André 3000 only appears in the middle eight and nowhere else, and on "Motivation" you could remove Lil Wayne's rap and the song could still carry on without him. "What's My Name?," however, just doesn't make sense without Drake's verse and is the only one of these nominees that plays like multiple musicians coming together on a single song.
Best Rap Song
"All Of The Lights" by Kanye West feat. Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie. Songwriters: Jeff Bhasker, Stacy Ferguson (Fergie), Malik Jones, Warren Trotter and Kanye West "Black And Yellow" by Wiz Khalifa. Songwriters: Mikkel Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen and Cameron Thomaz "I Need A Doctor" by Dr. Dre feat. Eminem & Skylar Grey. Songwriters: Andre Young, Marshall Mathers III (Eminem), Alexander Grant and Skylar Grey "Look At Me Now" by Chris Brown feat. Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes. Songwriters: Jean Baptiste, Chris Brown, Ryan Buendia, Trevor Smith, Dwayne Carter, Jr., Wesley Pentz and Nick Van De Wall "Otis" by Jay-Z & Kanye West. Songwriters: Shawn Carter and Kanye West "The Show Goes On" by Lupe Fiasco. Songwriters: Dustin William Brower, Jonathon Keith Brown, Daniel Johnson, Wassalu Muhammad Jaco.
From a songwriting perspective, "All Of The Lights" is pure gold. "Otis" may fall to a close second, but the structure, lyrics and melody on "All Of The Lights" goes unmatched, even by "Otis," which is another Kanye West collaboration. Other contenders, like "I Need A Doctor," hinge so much on the hook or chorus but then fall apart during the verses. "Lights" doesn't -- and deserves a Grammy for that.
Best Rap Album
Watch The Throne by Jay-Z & Kanye West Tha Carter IV by Lil Wayne Lasers by Lupe Fiasco Pink Friday by Nicki Minaj My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West
If Kanye West doesn't win Best Rap Album for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, he can thank the Taylor Swift debacle for ruining his chances of ever winning a major award following the backlash that came with destroying Swift's MTV VMA. This is the one Grammy category that West absolutely has a lock on, for Watch The Throne is too cha-ching and Tha Carter IV felt like a letdown. If West loses to anyone other than Nicki Minaj, we'll know it's because the Recording Academy is still trying to teach him a lesson from his misstep in 2009.
Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Denver, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.