This year's grammy picks are hard to call. Grammy folks used to be straight-up about voting like the aging baby-boomer cheeseballs that they are, but now (especially since the Steely Dan-over-Eminem debacle) they insist on pretending they're hip and happening and down with the flippity-flop, or whatever their grandkids are saying nowadays.
Outkast seems to be peaking at the right time, as Norah did last year, but I'm still less confident than usual. But whatever, even if I don't have the have the best list of picks, I'm making damn sure I have the longest! And that's what counts.
Jay Smooth's Grammy Predictions, 2004
Record Of The Year - Tough call! Em's record is too old, and I can only assume BEP is here due to a clerical error. I'm very hesitantly taking "Hey Ya" over Yonce, because Grammy voters love a record that is regarded as innovative but doesn't actually challenge them too much, and is easy on the ears. It lets them prove they're not "The Grannies" anymore without being nudged out of their comfort zone. They also love to reward hip-hop without having to hear a lot of rapping. Dark Horse: Coldplay has a shot since they will monopolize the "fear of a rap planet" vote.
Album Of The Year - Outkast against a weak field, should be a lock.
Song Of The Year - Em's nod in the songwriter's category is a landmark, but he's up against dead Zevon ailing Luther. Em's buzz has cooled enough to let one of the fogeys through, and unlike Warren, Luther is nominated for a song people have actually heard. Dark Horse: "Beautiful," and yes I do like that song. Hating on Christina is mad corny.
Best New Artist - 50 Cent wouldn't usually be favored 'round these parts (his rap music has too much rapping), but this field is weak and he just sold too damn much to be ignored. Dark Horse: Fountains Of Wayne.. I just can't see Evanescence getting this.
Best Female Rap Solo Performance Nice to see Lyte and Latifah on the list! But this one belongs to Missy.
Best Male Rap Solo Performance Wow, tough as hell to call between Em and 50. Normally the anthemic "Lose Yourself" would be a much stronger Grammy song than conventional club-banger "In Da Club", but 50 sold so much and 8 Mile was such a long time ago... I'm just gonna flip a canadian quarter. Okay, Queen Elizabeth says Eminem.
Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group Hmm, no clear favorite here, but I think Missy will always be a grammy darling. and for the record, the omission of "Get Low" here is a gotdamn TRAVESTY!
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration - Hov and Yonce, no-brainer. Anything that's nominated for the "big" awards will always win the "little" genre-specific awards.
Best Rap Song - Is this a new category?? I'm intrigued to see how voters will judge the "songwriter's award" for a rap record. What is their metric for this? Does the beat count as songwriting? Gotta figure Lose Yourself is the favorite, I guess?
Best Rap Album - Kast, no brainer...
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance - Christina, should be a lock. Dark Horse: Avril I guess? Dunno how she got nominated so much.
Best Male Pop Vocal Performance - Hmm, JT vs. 4 Fogeys, two of whom are dead. I'll still take Justin.
Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal - Bon Jovi? The Eagles?? A fogey-friendly category, but I think Fountains of Wayne should take it this time. Dark Horse: No Doubt
Best Pop Vocal Album - Justin should rock this one.
Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal - As much as they annoy me, it would be a travesty for the White Stripes to lose here. Dark Horse: Zevon with Bruce, on some sentimental steez.
Best Hard Rock Performance - Bet on Evanescence since they sold more than the other four combined.
Best Metal Performance - I'm out of touch with this world, but then so are most grammy voters. Nobody likes Korn anymore do they? I gotta figure Metallica is the favorite.
Best Rock Album - Probably Evanescence.
Best Alternative Music Album - Gotta be the Stripes. Just for my edification though, is it uncool to like Hail to the Thief? I barely saw it on anybody's best of lists, but I thought it was pretty awesome.
Best Female R&B Vocal Performance - Yonce Yonce Yonce, although she's not nominated for her big single.
Best Male R&B Vocal Performance - Normally R Kelly would ahve the edge, but with his lingering aura of ickiness and Luther's strong sentimental pull, Dance With My Father should take this.
Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals - Yonce AND Luther, remaking a classic all the older voters love? This one's a no-brainer.
Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance - Anthony Hamilton really deserves some love, but I think Aretha is too much of a grammy magnet.
Best Urban/Alternative Performance I dunno what the hell "Urban/Alternative" is supposed to mean, but Outkast will win it.
Best R&B Song Gonna be close between Luther and Yonce, but my money's on Luther since this is the songwriting category, where tearjerkers usually beat funky grooves. Yes, this means that Richard Marx (as his co-writer) will win an R&B grammy. I'm deeply sorry about this.
Best R&B Album - Luther once again. Wow, I have him winning a lot here.
Best Contemporary R&B Album - Musicwise, R Kelly really does deserve this, I hate to say. But the Yonce will prevail.
Best Female Country Vocal Performance - Shania, because it's the one I've heard of. Unless June Carter Cash gets the sentimental vote, and perhaps country folks think Shania is too pop.
Best Male Country Vocal Performance - Going by the "big nominees win little categories" theory, it's gotta be Lyle Lovett since he's also up for Best Country Album. These are the kinds of tricks they taught us at Fieldston's SAT prep classes. I guess Randy Travis has a shot too though.
Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album - Randy Travis, cuz he's the only one nominated elsewhere. Nice to see Englebert Humperdinck getting some love though!
Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal - Evidently the Brooks & Dunn track was a monster hit? I feel really ignorant.
Best Country Instrumental Performance - My patented Gambletron 4000 statistical analysis indicates a win for Ricky Skaggs, or possibly Alison Krauss
Best Bluegrass Album - Ricky Skaggs unless it's Alison Krauss, see above.
Best Traditional Blues Album - Gotta figure Buddy Guy is the biggest name here. I honestly think a lot of voters just go through their ballots and say "well, that's the only name I recognize, so..."
Best Traditional Folk Album - Gotta be June Carter Cash.
Best Contemporary Folk Album - Uhh they gotta give Zevon something somewhere, perhaps this'll be it. A lot of people seem to dig Lucinda Williams though.
Best Reggae Album - Damn sure better be Sean Paul.
Best Polka Album - Never bet against Jimmy Sturr AKA Sturr-Hova. NEVER!
Best Song Written For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media - Wow, gotta love a category that pits Ludacris against Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy. This one surely belongs to Eminem though, since it won an Oscar for the exact same category.
Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical - I really doubt voters pay attention to whether they heard the actual remix that got nominated, they just look for the song they like best. So it should be "Crazy in Love", or possibly "Beautiful".
Best Short Form Music Video - Hard to go against the ATLiens, but I think Johnny Cash might have a good shot here for one final nod.
Best Rock Gospel - I prayed for an answer, and God himself told me Robert Randolph & The Family Band have got this one sewn up.