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EW Online handicaps the Grammys

We tell you who’s gonna win and who SHOULD win

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Emily Robison, Dixie Chicks, ...
Courtesy Sony Music

Santana: Remember that name and you won’t go wrong in picking the biggest winner at Wednesday’s 42nd Annual Grammys (CBS; 8 p.m.). After selling 7 million copies of his latest album, ”Supernatural,” Carlos ”the comeback kid” Santana nabbed 10 nominations. And because Grammy winners tend to score big (Lauryn Hill left with five awards last year), he’s likely to dominate the categories he’s up for. But luckily for the other nominees, there are still 87 categories that ”Supernatural” didn’t qualify for. This year will also see such celebrity death matches as the randy Red Hot Chili Peppers against gone-Hollywood Hole, stalwart Whitney Houston against scrappy Mary J. Blige, and Britney Spears against her blonder nemesis Christina Aguilera.

Here’s EW’s guide to the Grammys:

  • RECORD OF THE YEAR
    Backstreet Boys, ”I Want It That Way”
    Cher, ”Believe”
    Ricky Martin, ”Livin’ La Vida Loca”
    Santana featuring Rob Thomas, ”Smooth”
    TLC, ”No Scrubs”

    Will Win Santana featuring Rob Thomas, ”Smooth”
    This 11 week No. 1 hit has sales and Santana-mania on its side. Still, don’t count out the Backstreet Boys’ smash ”I Want It That Way,” which is the boy-band single du jour among music scribes. ”It’s a quintessential pop record,” says EW Senior Writer Chris Willman. ”You can’t get it out of your head.”

    Should Win TLC, ”No Scrubs”
    It sparked watercooler debates, answer records (Sporty Thievz’s ”No Pigeons”), and the hot streak of producer Kevin ”She’kspere” Briggs (Destiny’s Child, Mariah Carey). ”In terms of sheer impact, TLC should win it,” says EW Correspondent Rob Brunner,” everyone was talking about that song.”

  • ALBUM OF THE YEAR
    Backstreet Boys, ”Millennium”
    Dixie Chicks, ”Fly”
    Diana Krall, ”When I Look in Your Eyes”
    Santana, ”Supernatural”
    TLC, ”FanMail”

    Will Win Santana, ”Supernatural”
    This big seller is the industry favorite (executive produced by biz legend Clive Davis), and the sentimental favorite (Santana has gotten only one Grammy in his 30-year career). Plus, the Grammys love a comeback. Ask Bonnie Raitt.

    Should Win Dixie Chicks, ”Fly”
    ”If there were any justice, it’d go to the Dixie Chicks,” says Willman. ”They did some damn fine coalition building by mixing traditional country and rock & roll — and getting away with it to boot.”

  • BEST NEW ARTIST
    Christina Aguilera
    Macy Gray
    Kid Rock
    Britney Spears
    Susan Tedeschi

    Will Win Susan Tedeschi
    Just kidding. Ingenue Britney Spears will be battling this one out with neo-soulster Macy Gray. And for the most part they’re equally handicapped — Macy doesn’t have Britney’s sales; Britney doesn’t have Macy’s pipes. But if Christina Aguilera splits Britney’s teen pop vote, then Gray will take the gold.

    Should Win Macy Gray
    ”Macy Gray is the prototypical Best New Artist,” says EW music critic David Browne. ”She has a good voice and she helps write her own songs.” And like other Grammy-winning newcomers, Gray is as likely to have a healthy career run (Sheryl Crow, Mariah Carey) as to fade from relevance (Paula Cole, Arrested Development).

  • BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE BY A DUO OR GROUP WITH VOCAL
    Garbage, ”Special”
    The Goo Goo Dolls, ”Black Balloon”
    Hole, ”Malibu”
    Red Hot Chili Peppers, ”Scar Tissue”
    Santana featuring Everlast, ”Put Your Lights On”

    Will Win Santana featuring Everlast, ”Put Your Lights On”
    ”Lights” didn’t have the radio legs of ”Smooth,” but it’s simply Santana’s year. ”If the Oscars are considered a real race this year,” says Willman, ”then the Grammys are the opposite — an open and shut case.”

    Should Win Red Hot Chili Peppers, ”Scar Tissue”
    ”It reveals some unexpected depth for the Chili Peppers,” says EW staff writer Tom Sinclair. ”It’s really an evocative, moody song.”

  • BEST R&B ALBUM
    Mary J. Blige, ”Mary”
    Whitney Houston, ”My Love Is Your Love”
    R. Kelly, ”R.”
    Brian McKnight, ”Back at One”
    TLC, ”FanMail”

    Will Win TLC, ”FanMail”
    Voters will likely recognize TLC here, since they’re not up against Santana. But Grammy fave Whitney is a steely contender simply because she’s already won five times.

    Should Win Mary J. Blige, ”Mary”
    Blige made the year’s most critically acclaimed R&B album by merging hip-hop and soul without losing the punch of either.

  • BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC PERFORMANCE
    Tori Amos, ”To Venus and Back”
    Beck, ”Mutations”
    Fatboy Slim, ”You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby”
    Moby, ”Play”
    Nine Inch Nails, ”The Fragile”

    Will Win Fatboy Slim, ”You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby”
    It’s the most accessible alternative: two inescapable feel-good singles (”Praise You,” ”Rockafeller Skank), and a ubiquitous Spike Jonze-directed video.

    Should Win Moby, ”Play”
    It’s the most novel alternative: ”There was something about the way he blended the dance-y stuff with the old gospel and field holler samples,” says Browne. ”It felt fresh.”

    See our list of additional Grammy nominees.