Grammy predictions? Okay, here you go: Adele, in her first appearance since throat surgery, will wow and astound with her affecting performance, thus moving one step closer to sainthood or even angel wings. Kanye West and/or Jay-Z will have something to say about the lack of respect afforded to hip hop, yo. And Madonna will be the butt of a joke.
Count on a heartfelt festival of emotions, caused not only by Adele’s comeback but Paul McCartney’s sappy singing of My Valentine; a formal tribute to Etta James; and an informal one to Clarence Clemons, the late Springsteen saxophonist who might be represented by his nephew (Jake) in the Boss’s band.
There may well also be fireworks involved, and we’re not just talking about the Katy Perry single: A protest involving the trimming of the Grammy categories is brewing; Chris Brown will be in the same room as his assault victim/ex-girlfriend Rihanna; and Brian Wilson will try not to kick sand in the face of his fellow Beach Boys.
As far as winners and losers, all bets are still on, even if no one in Adele’s six categories is clearing any space in their trophy cases. With that in mind, here’s how things shake down in some of the 79 (down from 109) categories.
Album of the Year
Nominees: Adele’s 21, Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, Bruno Mars’s Doo-Wops & Hooligans, Rihanna’s Loud.
Prediction: You lay down 21 in Las Vegas, you win. Same thing in L.A.
Record of the Year
Nominees: Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, Bon Iver’s Holocene, Bruno Mars’s Grenade, Mumford & Sons’ The Cave, Katy Perry’s Firework.
Prediction: Oh, Adele, why don’t we just set up a chair for you onstage. It’ll save you walking back and forth from the audience.
Best Rock Album
Nominees: Jeff Beck’s Rock ’n’ Roll Party Honoring Les Paul, Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light, Kings of Leon’s Come Around Sundown, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ I’m With You, Wilco’s The Whole Love.
Prediction: Is it too simplistic to reason that the only entrant here who’s also up for album of the year is a sure thing? It is, but that doesn’t mean it’s a wrong choice. Foo Fighters win.
Best Rap Album
Nominees: Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne, Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV, Lupe Fiasco’s Lasers, Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday, Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Prediction: Jay-Z’s best collaboration this year involved Beyoncé and diapers. The half-timing Madonna can tell Lil Wayne that Roman numbers don’t always work out so well. So, not only does Kayne win for MBDTF; he’ll cause a scene by insisting he was “robbed” because Throne didn’t win.
Best New Artist
Nominees: The Band Perry, Bon Iver, J. Cole, Nicki Minaj, Skrillex.
Prediction: Because alt-folk artist Justin (Bon Iver) Vernon has spoken out against the concept of music-award shows, you have to wonder if Grammy voters will make it easy for him to stand by his principles. Skrillex sounds like a name for an industrial-strength cleanser, and besides, the dubstep wonder boy has chances in four other categories. So, let’s make Mr. and Mrs. Perry happy by giving this award to their country-music offspring – the sweet-singing siblings known as the Band Perry.
Best Blues Album
Nominees: Gregg Allman’s Low Country Blues, Marcia Ball’s Roadside Attractions, Warren Haynes’s Man in Motion, Keb Mo’s The Reflection, Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Revelator.
Prediction: Not gonna let them catch him, no / Not gonna let them catch him, no / Not gonna let them catch him, no / Not gonna let ’em catch the midnight rider! Gregg Allman rides away with the statuette.