The 2011 Grammy Nominees Revealed … Possibly

Eminem, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga and more Grammy guesses, in Bigger Than the Sound.

On Wednesday night (December 1), CBS will broadcast one of my favorite events of the year: the annual Grammy Nominations telecast/concert/thingy. Not only is it the unofficial kickoff of the self-congratulatory season, but it gives me a chance to wager on another largely arbitrary and oft insane awards show. So, you know, I’m pumped.

After all, it’s not exactly news to readers of Bigger Than the Sound that I fancy myself quite the prognosticator, particularly when it comes to shows like the Grammys (or the VMAs ). This is partially because I consider myself an expert on these kinds of things, but also because I have a huge gambling problem. Sometimes, I even manage to hit the nail on the head, like I did with my predictions for last year’s Grammys (who among us can forget my triumphant 4-for-5 performance in Record of the Year?!?), though, more often than not, I fail miserably.

Still, I keep trying. It seems I cannot turn down the opportunity to pick the nominees at crazy awards shows, and the 2011 Grammys (which will air Sunday, February 13) are perhaps the craziest in recent memory. After all, back in April, the Recording Academy — the folks behind the Grammys — decided to randomly extend the eligibility period to 13 months (from September 1, 2009, to September 30, 2010), which meant a whole lot of albums that I practically forgot about (Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3, Muse’s The Resistance, John Mayer’s Battle Studies) were all of a sudden back in play.

All of that is a rather longwinded way of saying that these picks are nothing more than informed guesses, really — though, in keeping with the general WTF-ery of the Grammys, I suppose that makes them strangely perfect. In an attempt to save myself from total humiliation, I’ve decided to tackle only the so-called Big Four categories: Record, Album and Song of the Year, plus Best New Artist. So here, for your wagering pleasure (and mine) are my predictions for the 2011 Grammy nominations.

Record of the Year
This is the Grammy for song of the year (in olde-tyme speak — and hip-hop — songs are referred to as “records”), though they might as well call it the Group of Death, since over the past 13 months, so many massive artists released so many massive songs. Last year, Academy voters gave the award to the Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody,” though this year, I have a feeling it could be a rapper taking home the hardware. My picks:

» Eminem (featuring Rihanna), “Love The Way You Lie”
» Florence and the Machine, “Dog Days Are Over”
» Jay-Z (featuring Alicia Keys), “Empire State of Mind”
» Train, “Hey Soul Sister”
» Usher, “OMG”

I’m pretty confident that Em, Jay and Train are mortal locks here, since their respective songs were so huge. Usher had himself a mega-year too, and since I see him getting shut out pretty much everywhere else, I penciled “OMG” in for a nom. I have a creeping suspicion that Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days” could be the dark-horse darling of this year’s Grammys, since it’s done nothing but gain momentum (and radio play) over the past six months or so. Of course, Grammy voters may just decide to go big, and if that’s the case, forget Florence and pencil in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” (or Taylor Swift’s “Mine”) for the fifth slot.

Album of the Year
The award for the year’s best album — according to the Recording Academy, at least — infamously went to Taylor Swift’s Fearless at last year’s show, a move that had Grammy naysayers howling that the category had more to do with album sales than album quality. Which sort of begs the question: Had any of those people ever watched the Grammys before? My predictions:

» Eminem, Recovery
» Carole King/ James Taylor, Live at the Troubadour
» Jay-Z, The Blueprint 3
» Lady Antebellum, Need You Now
» Sade, Soldier of Love

Recovery is the year’s best-selling album, so it’s a given that it will land a nod here. Same goes for Lady Antebellum’s massive Need You Now. Jay-Z actually won two Grammys last year, but BP 3 missed the nomination deadline, and it will be honored here. Sade’s Soldier of Love was her first album in nearly a decade, a return made even more triumphant when it topped the Billboard charts for three straight weeks. And that Carole King/ James Taylor album? Dude, it’s the Grammys. If one of those five stumbles, look for Usher’s Raymond v. Raymond to pick up the nom or even (pleasepleaseplease) the Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs.

Song of the Year
This one is given to the composer, not the performer. At last year’s Grammys, Beyoncé’s fantabulous “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” shook its way to victory in this category, ending a two-year run of wins by British acts (Coldplay and Adele, just in case you were keeping score). Let’s just say no one with a funny accent is gonna be winning this year, unless you count Lady Antebellum. Here’s who I’ve got:

» Eminem (featuring Rihanna), “Love the Way You Lie”
» Jay-Z (featuring Alicia Keys), “Empire State of Mind”
» Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
» Lady Gaga, “Bad Romance”
» Train, “Hey Soul Sister”

Much like Record of the Year, Em, Jay and Train all seem like sure bets. Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” will get a nom here (shoot, it may get one in Record of the Year too). I think the wild card is Lady Gaga, who has to snag a Big Four nomination somewhere. Katy Perry and Taylor Swift could easily replace her, though. And don’t count out Florence and the Machine, either.

Best New Artist
Last year’s winner? The Zac Brown Band. I don’t even see a country act getting a nom this year, though. Instead, this looks like a two-horse race between Drake and Justin Bieber, neither of whom — rather inexplicably — have been nominated in this category yet. Sure, Drizzy got a pair of nods last year, but thanks to the so-called “Lady Gaga rule change,” he’s eligible for BNA this year. You gotta love the Grammys. My picks:

» B.o.B
» Drake
» Florence and the Machine
» Justin Bieber
» Mumford & Sons

I almost put Eminem and Jay-Z in this category out of habit. Like I said, there are definitely two front-runners here, though B.o.B had enough hits to at least warrant consideration too. Mumford & Sons and Florence both enjoyed rather modest success here in the States, though it’s entirely possible they’ll split votes between Academy members, meaning one of them might not get in here. If that’s the case, write in Ke$ha or even the Black Keys, who are not only the kind of band Grammy voters love, but have actually been around for nearly a decade now, which sort of makes them the perfect act to win the Best New Artist Grammy.

Did we get it right? Share your Grammy predictions in the comments!