Album of the Year?
The Black Keys, El Camino?
fun., Some Nights?
Mumford & Sons, Babel?
Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE
Jack White, Blunderbuss
Who Should Win: Artistically, Frank Ocean has the most unique point of view.
Who Will Win: Mumford & Sons may not be the edgiest choice, but they’re total Grammy bait, and it would grandfather in 2011’s Sigh No More as well. We wouldn’t count out the Black Keys or Ocean, though.
Record of the Year?
The Black Keys, ”Lonely Boy”
Kelly Clarkson, ”Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”?
fun. feat. Janelle Monée, ”We Are Young”?
Gotye feat. Kimbra, ”Somebody That I Used to Know”?
Frank Ocean,”Thinkin Bout You”?
Taylor Swift, ”We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
Who Should Win: Gotye, because ”Somebody” actually didn’t sound like anything else on pop radio in 2012.
Who Will Win: Fun., with an outside shot to Gotye. Taylor and Kelly’s contributions are too lightweight, and since this is about production, Frank’s spare song seems like a long shot.
Song of the Year?
Ed Sheeran, ”The A Team” ?
Miguel, ”Adorn” ?
Carly Rae Jepsen, ”Call Me Maybe” ?
Kelly Clarkson, ”Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” ?
fun. feat. Janelle Monée, ”We Are Young”
Who Should Win: We adore ”Adorn.”
Who Will Win: ”We Are Young” is the kind of anthem this category is made for, unless voters’ inner tweens rebel and bestow their glitter heart on Carly.
Best New Artist?
The Alabama Shakes?
Who Will and Should Win: Though fun. really couldn’t have had a bigger year, and wouldn’t be undeserving, Grammy voters will congratulate themselves for their hipness if they vote for Frank Ocean — plus he actually deserves it based on artistry.
Best Pop Vocal Album?
Kelly Clarkson, Stronger?
Florence and the Machine, Ceremonials?
fun., Some Nights?
Maroon 5, Overexposed?
Pink, The Truth About Love
Who Should Win: We’d love to see Florence take this one; thus far, she’s unjustifiably Grammy-less.
Who Will Win: Fun.‘s momentum in other categories will likely breeze them in here — and it’s the definition of a pop vocal album.
Best Pop Solo Performance?
Adele, ”Set Fire to the Rain (Live)”
Kelly Clarkson, ”Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”
Carly Rae Jepsen, ”Call Me Maybe”
Katy Perry, ”Wide Awake”
Rihanna, ”Where Have You Been”
Who Should Win: Let’s throw Carly Rae Jepsen a phone-shaped bone here, just to acknowledge the insane impact that song had on pop culture in 2012.
Who Will Win: Adele wins these things in her sleep.
Best Rock Album
The Black Keys, El Camino?
Muse, The 2nd Law?
Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto?
Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball?
Jack White, Blunderbuss
Who Should and Will Win: All the young whippersnappers here have a shot — but we’re betting on The Boss to prevail. And while we wouldn’t be mad to see it go Jack or Black too, we’d be happy to see Bruce’s earnest ode to the working class rewarded.
Best Alternative Music Album?
Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do?
Gotye, Making Mirrors?
M83, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming?
Tom Waits, Bad As Me
Who Should and Will Win: For pure vision and singularity, Fiona should take it. Also, we really want to hear her speech. Shine on, you crazy Apple.
Best R&B Album
Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio
Anthony Hamilton, Back to Love
R. Kelly, Write Me Back
Tamia, Beautiful Surprise
Tyrese, Open Invitation
Who Should Win: Yes, he’s bonkers; but R. Kelly‘s Write Me Back was an awesome AM-radio throwback.
Who Will Win: Anthony Hamilton won reams of late-career acclaim for his latest, with its grown-and-sexy approach to long-term love. Still, we wouldn’t entirely count out Tamia or R. Kelly.
Best R&B Performance
Estelle, ”Thank You”
Robert Glasper Experiment feat. Ledisi, ”Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.) ?
Luke James, ”I Want You” ?
Miguel, ”Adorn” ?
Who Should and Will Win: Usher‘s über über slow jam — which, ironically, has no actual climax — should grab it. Again, we love Miguel, but this is truly one of Usher’s finest moments.
Best R&B Song
Tamia, ”Beautiful Surprise”
Trey Songz, ”Heart Attack”
Anthony Hamilton, ”Back to Love”
Elle Varner, ”Perfectly Imperfect”
Who Should and Will Win: It’s usually a rule that the artist with the topline nominations takes the genre categories, and Miguel should be no exception here. We love when ”will” and ”should” match up.
Best Rap Album
Drake, Take Care?
Lupe Fiasco, Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1?
The Roots, Undun?
Rick Ross, God Forgives, I Don’t
Nas, Life Is Good
2 Chainz, Based on a T.R.U. Story
The Bottom Line: It’s a toss-up between Drake and Nas.
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
Flo Rida feat. Sia, ”Wild Ones” ?
Jay-Z & Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean & The-Dream, ”No Church in the Wild” ?
John Legend feat. Ludacris, ”Tonight (Best You Ever Had)”
Nas feat. Amy Winehouse, ”Cherry Wine”
Rihanna feat. Jay-Z, ”Talk That Talk”
Who Should Win: ”Church” feels about two years old, but it’s also spectacular.
Who Will Win: Love for Amy Winehouse is likely to tip the vote for her posthumous work.
Best Rap Song
Wale feat. Miguel, ”Lotus Flower Bomb”
Kanye West feat. Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz, ”Mercy”
Drake, ”The Motto”
Watch the Throne, ”N—-s in Paris”
Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa feat. Bruno Mars, ”Young Wild & Free”
Who Should and Will Win: Jay and ‘Ye; the rest are solid, but ”Paris” is a pop-culture touchstone. Kanye may cancel himself out, but it’s hard to imagine the song’s two-titan power not taking this one — unless Nas’ parental lament rallies the social-consciousness voting block.
Best Country Album
Zac Brown Band, Uncaged
Hunter Hayes, Hunter Hayes
Jamey Johnson, Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran
Miranda Lambert, Four the Record
The Time Jumpers, The Time Jumpers
Who Should Win: How about a moment for Nashville outsider Jamey Johnson?
Who Will Win: Voters love Miranda Lambert — and they love her plus one, hubby Blake Shelton, too.?
Best Country Song
Carrie Underwood, ”Blown Away”
Ronnie Dunn, ”Cost of Living”
Eli Young Band, ”Even If It Breaks Your Heart”
Alan Jackson, ”So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore”
Eric Church, ”Springsteen”
Who Should Win: ”Springsteen” was one of the year’s biggest anthems. Give Eric Church a chance!
Who Will Win: And yet, with an already full mantel, Carrie Underwood is hard to beat in these categories.
Best Americana Album
The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter
John Fullbright, From the Ground Up
The Lumineers, The Lumineers
Mumford and Sons, Babel
Bonnie Raitt, Slipstream
Who Should Win: If we’re talking true Americana — but still with enough renown to galvanize voters (sorry Fullbright!) — this really belongs to The Avett Brothers.
Who Will Win: Mumford have an excellent shot at Album of the Year, so this seems like theirs to lose, unless Raitt ekes out a win for the old school.
Best Dance/Electronica Album
Steve Aoki, Wonderland
The Chemical Brothers, Don’t Think
deadmau5, Album Title Goes Here
Kaskade, Fire & Ice
Who Should Win: Skrillex and the Chemical Brothers are the only ones here who’ve already won before (the Chems have four). Deadmau5 is a lot like Skrillex, but more sonically interesting, but…
Who Will Win: Skrillex is likely the one with the most 2012 momentum.
Best Dance Recording
Calvin Harris feat. Ne-Yo, ”Let’s Go”
Skrillex feat. Sirah, ”Bangarang” ?
Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin, ”Don’t You Worry Child” ?
Al Walser, ”I Can’t Live Without You”
Who Should Win: Swedish House Mafia‘s spin-class monster anthem, which is also their swan song. (The band is going on indefinite hiatus after playing their final live shows this March.)
Who Will Win: Skrillex still has last year’s Grammy momentum behind him; Calvin Harris may be the closest thing to a household name here though, and could steal it.
Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance
Anthrax, ”I’m Alive”
Halestorm, ”Love Bites (So Do I)”
Iron Maiden, ”Blood Brothers”
Lamb of God, ”Ghost Walking”
Marilyn Manson, ”No Reflection”
Megadeth, ”Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)”
Who Should Win: Metal is one of Grammy’s most problematic genres — remember Jethro Tull over Metallica’s …And Justice For All? Lamb of God is easily the most relevant metal band on this list. ”Ghost Walking,” from their seventh album Resolution, may not break new ground, but it pounds another American metal stake in the ground with a ferocity we’ve come to depend on.
Who Will Win: After eight previous nods and no wins, our best guess is they finally send Dave Mustaine’s Megadeth home with a trophy this year.
Best Blues Album
Shemekia Copeland, 33 1/3
Dr. John, Locked Down
Ruthie Foster, Let It Burn
Heritage Blues Orchestra, And Still I Rise
Joan Osborne, Bring It On Home
Who Should and Will Win: The Doctor is in. It’s a good record! This was Dr. John‘s comeback year, and the fact that the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach produced it (and is up for a Producer Grammy) seems to make it a lock.