While great competition is in store at this year's Grammy Awards (televised and streamed live from Los Angeles tomorrow evening,) one suspects the water-cooler talk on Monday will concern the Michael Jackson tribute, to be broadcast in 3-D. Yes, in living rooms across North America, viewers with appropriate eyewear will seemingly be able to reach out and touch the nose of the late King of Pop.
But beyond that high-tech spectacle and the Haiti-relief segment, tons of trophies are to handed out, more often than not, you can bet, to people named Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift. Here's a forecast of who'll be clutching statuettes while making this-one's-for-you-mom speeches.
Is it me, or are the Ting Tings, like, already a ting of the past? Shouldn't the double-T British pop duo be in the comeback category by now? Anyhow, let's give the award to country-rocker Zac Brown. He's a feel-good guy - the new Jimmy Buffett.
Female Vocal Pop Performance
Say Halo to Beyoncé, the Jay-Z-marrying superstar who's nominated for 10 trophies. She'll win this one. Britain's Adele deservedly won in 2009 for Chasing Pavements, so we don't see a repeat with Hometown Glory this year. Pink has an outside shot with Sober. The ubiquitous Taylor Swift ( You Belong With Me) isn't the singer the others are.
Best Male Vocal Pop Performance
Jason Mraz's nominated pop recital is Make it Mine. And so he shall, beating out John Legend's This Time, Maxwell's Love You and tunes sung by Seal and Stevie Wonder.
Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package
Neil Young has never won a Grammy for his solo work. Naturally, then, he'll win with a colossal boxed set - Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 (1963-1972) - that gathers some of the same material he never won with before.
Spoken Word Album
Neither of Canadians Michael J. Fox or Sandra Oh will win, and neither, unfortunately, will Jonathan Winters. Former president Jimmy Carter and Carrie Fisher, for their much-too-similar works ( We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land and Wishful Drinking, respectively) will split the vote, giving a win to Richard Dreyfuss and David Strathairn for The Lincoln-Douglas Debates. Strathairn's ingeniously improvised line - "Senator, you're no Millard Fillmore" - will ultimately sway the voters.
By any reasonable logic, Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King, by the Dave Matthews Band, can't lose. The disc is also up for album of the year, while the other nominated rock opuses (by U2, Green Day, AC/DC, and Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood) are not. Using the same reasoning, Use Somebody by Kings of Leon, is a lock for best rock song.
Solo Rock Vocal
"The nominees for the year's best solo rock performance are Neil Young (applause), Prince (applause), Bob Dylan (laughter), John Fogarty (applause) and Bruce Springsteen (much applause). And the winner is …" Actually, we're not sure who wins, but the acceptance speech goes something like, "I just won the Grammy for best solo rock vocal, and now I'm going to Shady Grove Retirement Estates!"
The songwriter's award will go to Swift and Liz Rose, the composers of the mega hit You Belong With Me. The country-pop sweetie pie noses out Use Somebody, by Tennessee rockers Kings of Leon.
In case we need more evidence that the long player is dying, the nominated albums in this category and others are stunningly mediocre compared to the crazy-great singles from last year. Over works from Beyoncé, Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga and the Dave Matthews Band, the gramophone statuette goes to Swift for Fearless. Take that, Kanye West!
Over the last decade, the song of the year and the record of the year were one and the same exactly half of the time. So, no trend-revealing clues there. And we are looking for those, because the five tunes here are all fantastically strong. But when the cameras zero in on the pretty mugs of Beyoncé, Black Eyed Peas, Kings of Leon, Lady Gaga and Swift, we predict the winner will be the one with the Poker Face - the inscrutable, bubble-wearing disco diva, Gaga.