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Predicting the Grammys

By Nekesa Mumbi Moody

Sunday, February 8, 2009

By Nekesa Mumbi Moody

Lil Wayne has lil chance, while Krauss and Plant have a clear path.

Lil Wayne and Coldplay were the kings of the music industry last year. They had the No. 1 and No. 2 best-selling CDs, respectively, and come into this year’s Grammys leading the pack in nominations, with Lil Wayne’s eight, and Coldplay’s seven.

But when it comes to the key category of album of the year, their dominance will likely end, thanks to the unlikely collaboration between Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. While the pair may not have saturated radio and ruled the sales chart, their masterful album “Raising Sand” not only won over critics but was a surprising commercial success. Look for Grammy voters to reward the duo for their daring pairing when the Grammys are handed out Sunday night.

Here’s a look at who will take home Grammys in key categories this year (though don’t blame us if you lose money on these predictions).

Record of the Year: “Chasing Pavements,” Adele; “Viva La Vida,” Coldplay; “Bleeding Love,” Leona Lewis; “Paper Planes,” M.I.A; “Please Read The Letter,” Robert Plant & Alison Krauss.

And the Grammy goes to: Take “Paper Planes” out of this category and these all could be competing for best elevator music track, with vocal. This may be the mellowest group of contenders in recent memory — great music, but pretty darn drowsy. Which is why “Paper Planes” won’t win — obviously, Grammy voters are in more of a downbeat mood these days. And no song was more somber than Krauss and Plant’s aching “Read the Letter”; It’s tender, vulnerable, poetic and blows away anything else in this category. It may not have been a radio smash, but it has plenty of fans.

Album of the Year: “Raising Sand,” Robert Plant & Alison Krauss”; “Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends,” Coldplay; “Tha Carter III,” Lil Wayne; “Year of the Gentleman,” Ne-Yo; “In Rainbows,” Radiohead.

And the Grammy goes to: Radiohead not only made a spellbinding album, they also shook up the music industry with their innovative pay-what-you-wish model for the CD’s initial release. But we doubt a struggling music industry will celebrate a band that showed you really don’t need music labels. And while Lil Wayne had the year’s best selling disc, I’m sure most Grammy voters can barely comprehend the first line of “A Milli,” let alone his whole album. Ne-Yo’s nomination for an album that wasn’t his best was a reward for his great songwriting contributions (“Irreplaceable,” “Take A Bow”) and is unlikely to win. The real battle here is between Coldplay and Krauss and Plant. While Coldplay is a Grammy fave, few have won more trophies than Krauss, who here is teamed with two revered greats — Plant and producer T Bone Burnett, who won this category a few year’s back with the “O Brother, Where Art Thou” soundtrack. He’ll take home another win for his work on “Raising Sand.”

Song of the Year: “American Boy,” William Adams, Keith Harris, Josh Lopez, Caleb Speir, John Stephens, Estelle Swaray & Kanye West (Estelle Featuring Kanye West); “Chasing Pavements,” Adele Adkins & Eg White (Adele); “I’m Yours,” Jason Mraz; “Love Song,” Sara Bareilles; “Viva La Vida,” Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion, & Chris Martin (Coldplay).

And the Grammy goes to: Bareilles’ “Love Song” was the most engaging track out of the pack, but there’s no way she (or anyone else in this category) can compete with the star power of Coldplay.

New Artist: Adele, Duffy, The Jonas Brothers, Lady Antebellum, Jazmine Sullivan.

And the Grammy goes to: Sorry Sasha and Malia, but your boys aren’t likely to be winners in this category. To be frank, even though they are a talented trio, they shouldn’t have even merited a nomination since they’re already on their third CD (and the last one was platinum) ... how are they “new”? That leaves us with Sullivan, who is a bit too unknown to win; Lady Antebellum, whose success was limited to the often marginalized country genre; and Brit divas Adele and Duffy. Though Duffy had more success with her retro debut, I’ll pull for a slight upset here with Adele, whose album was better (and is liked enough by Grammy voters to merit a nomination in the top record-of-the-year category).

Pop Vocal Album: “Detours,” Sheryl Crow; “Rockferry,” Duffy; “Long Road Out Of Eden,” Eagles; “Spirit,” Leona Lewis; “Covers,” James Taylor.

And the Grammy goes to: The Eagles, if not for their musicianship, for showing aging vets how to stay relevant and outsell the youngins: Get an exclusive deal with Wal-Mart.

Rock Album: “Viva La Vida,” Coldplay; “Rock N Roll Jesus,” Kid Rock; “Only By The Night,” Kings Of Leon; “Death Magnetic,” Metallica; “Consolers Of The Lonely,” The Raconteurs.

And the Grammy goes to: As big as Coldplay’s CD was, Kid Rock’s CD was the real phenomenon in the rock (and pop) world last year — like Jesus, it found new life long after its expected death. Grammy voters should, and will, reward his impressive year with a win here.

R&B Album: “Love & Life,” Eric Benet; “Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA,” Boyz II Men; “Lay It Down,” Al Green; “Jennifer Hudson,” Jennifer Hudson; “The Way I See It,” Raphael Saadiq.

And the Grammy goes to: Hudson would have probably been nominated anyway for her solid debut CD, but her horrific family tragedy makes her a sentimental favorite. She seems like a shoo-in ... but these are the same Grammys that didn’t give Aaliyah a posthumous win for her last CD, so I’ll go with the legendary Green, who not only put out one of the year’s best CDs, but has never won in this category, a genre he helped define.

Rap Album: “American Gangster,” Jay-Z; “Tha Carter III,” Lil Wayne; “The Cool,” Lupe Fiasco; “Nas,” Nas; “Paper Trail,” T.I.:

And the Grammy goes to: Weezy F, baby! Lil Wayne owned rap last year — there’s no way anyone else is going home with that trophy.

Country Album: “That Lonesome Song,” Jamey Johnson; “Sleepless Nights,” Patty Loveless; “Troubadour,” George Strait; “Around The Bend,” Randy Travis; “Heaven, Heartache And The Power Of Love,” Trisha Yearwood.

And the Grammy goes to: Strait is a country legend who has never had a Grammy win — until now.