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Grammys: Predictions for the big categories

By Joseph O'Leary
On February 6, 2013

Sunday's Grammys will be very different from last year, where there was a clear winner in Adele, whose "21" took six awards. They might look more like 2010, where a bunch of huge genre hits clashed and Arcade Fire's sprawling alternative epic "The Suburbs" topped Eminem, Ladies (Antebellum and Gaga) and Katy Perry for Album of the Year. We won't know who won until they're over (yes, that is obvious), but here are some fairly educated guesses.

Record of the Year

Record of the Year and Song of the Year are two completely different categories. Song lauds the craftsmanship of the writers, while Record is about the finished product as a whole: producing, performance and success all factored in. So Frank Ocean's "Thinkin Bout You" seems to be at an early disadvantage, as it only topped out at No. 32 on the Billboard charts. It's a critical favorite, but that probably can't carry it to victory. The Black Keys' "Lonely Boy" and Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" are both fairly dated at this point, "Boy" especially. The duel in this category seems like it could come down to which flavor of pop the voters liked best: "We Are Young" by fun. was one of the year's unavoidable smash hits, as were "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye and "We Are Never Getting Back Together" by Taylor Swift. My sleeper pick is Gotye, who spent eight weeks topping nearly every chart in early 2012.

Album of the Year

fun., Mumford and Sons, The Black Keys, Jack White and Frank Ocean. One of these artists is not like the other: Frank Ocean is the only R&B artist in this category. While "Babel" was a huge seller and the Keys were one of the best acts of 2012, there's simply no way Ocean doesn't get this one. "Channel ORANGE" was best as an album, anyway; its 16 tracks are a pretty cohesive experience. By the way, why did everyone suddenly love "Blunderbuss"? I don't remember White's first solo album getting reviews better than "pretty decent but nothing special."

Song of the Year

The production on "Stronger" and "We Are Young" aside, they're both fantastically written songs, which explains why they made it into both major song categories. They're joined by Ed Sheeran's pop hit "The A Team," Miguel's "Kaleidoscope Dream" single "Adorn" and the likely winner, Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe." It was the perfect piece of pop perfection in 2012, and it shone through Jepsen and her songwriters' talent and composition. She should have it, barring the Grammy voters having a lot of fun. this year.

Best New Artist

A very varied group here has five worthy choices. Country star Hunter Haynes and Memphis blues outfit Alabama Shakes are just here for fun, as they don't have any real shot, barring a major upset. It's fun. versus Frank again. Can "Some Nights" and "Carry On" take on "Pyramids" and "Sweet Life"? Whichever way the voters lean this year will decide it...and they should side with Ocean. The underdog Lumineers have a small shot at the award, as their song "Ho Hey" managed to blow up just in time for every voter to be bombarded with it.

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