Who'll score when the Recording Academy hands out music's top honors on Feb. 8? See who we think is likely to win -- and who deserves to win -- in 12 top categories
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Credit: Kelly Clarkson: Mary Ellen Matthews/Corbis Outline

Image credit: U2: George Chin/WireImage.com WILL WIN Mariah, Gwen, and Kanye will split the R&B/rap votes, leaving U2 with their 17th Grammy.

Album

of the Year

2006 Grammy predictions: Album of the Year

SHOULD WIN Kanye — the most musically and lyrically audacious of the bunch — gets our nod.

Image credit: Mariah Carey: Markus Klinko & Indrani WILL WIN Seemingly on the radio every 15 minutes, Carey’s single brought millions back to the cult of ”the voice.”

Record

of the Year

2006 Grammy predictions: Record of the Year

SHOULD WIN For turning a demeaning dis into a hilarious song, West deserves it.

Image credit: John Legend: Sarah A. Friedman/Corbis Outline

Song

of the Year

2006 Grammy predictions: Song of the Year

WILL WIN & SHOULD WIN A tough one, but Legend’s ballad will eke out a victory, if only for its old-school soul virtues. Though lesser tracks from Mariah, U2, or even the Boss could steal it.

Image credit: Fallout Boy: Shane McCauley/Retna SHOULD WIN Fall Out Boy’s clever brand of emo.

Best

New Artist

2006 Grammy predictions: Best New Artist

WILL WIN Voters will love Legend’s classy boho soul.

Image credit: Kelly Clarkson: Mary Ellen Matthews/Corbis Outline

Best

Female Pop Vocal Performance

2006 Grammy predictions: Female Pop Vocal Performance

WILL WIN & SHOULD WIN With an undeniable Max Martin-penned hook, Clarkson’s anthem is a perfect meeting of slick production and raw emotion featuring a killer vocal from the Idol vet.

Image credit: Rob Thomas: Ben Watts/Corbis Outline

Best

Male Pop Vocal Performance

2006 Grammy predictions: Best Male Pop Vocal Performance

WILL WIN & SHOULD WIN The irresistible charms of Thomas’ fluffy R&B-pop jam turned millions of skeptics — us included — into believers. Too bad there isn’t a Best Backup Vocals category.

Image credit: Coldplay: Steven Dewall / Retna WILL WIN The only award Coldplay snags all night?

Best

Rock Performance by a Duo or Group

2006 Grammy predictions: Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group

SHOULD WIN Franz Ferdinand’s disco rock rules!

Image credit: Beck: Justin Stephens/Corbis Outline WILL WIN Beck takes this one on name recognition alone.

Best

Alternative Music Album

2006 Grammy predictions: Best Alternative Music Album

SHOULD WIN Fans have been digging the CD for 16 months, but the Arcade Fire still sound like the freshest thing in alt-rock.

Image credit: Amerie: Anthony Cutajar/LFI SHOULD WIN For its mind-boggling beat alone, Amerie’s Meters-sampling track shouldn’t be ignored.

Best

Female R&B Vocal Performance

2006 Grammy predictions: Best Female R&B Vocal Performance

WILL WIN The silk-and-satin embrace of Carey’s single was the spark for her incredible comeback year.

Image credit: John Legend: Mark J. Terrill/AP

Best

Male R&B Vocal Performance

2006 Grammy predictions: Best Male R&B Vocal Performance

WILL WIN & SHOULD WIN Voters have loved Stevie Wonder (19 total awards), but Legend’s stripped-down piano ballad made far more of a radio and critical impact than Wonder’s slice of funk.

Image credit: Kanye West: Anthony Mandler/Corbis Outline

Best

Rap Album

2006 Grammy predictions: Best Rap Album

WILL WIN & SHOULD WIN 50 Cent is the biggest seller, but his thuggishness will scare off many, so West will be the winner. And rightfully so, for a hip-hop album that’s funny, humane, and musically brilliant.

Image credit: Alison Krauss: Rick Diamond/WireImage.com WILL WIN Krauss is beloved by everyone on the coasts and in between, even if this wasn’t her strongest effort.

Best

Country Album

2006 Grammy predictions: Best Country Album

SHOULD WIN The latest by twang master Paisley was stocked with fun moments.

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