2011 Grammy Winners Revealed — Possibly

Bigger Than the Sound likes Eminem, Florence and the Machine, others to take home Grammys.

This Sunday, the titans of the music industry will convene on the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the 53rd annual Grammy Awards, the annual celebration of back-slapping, glad-handling and, of course, melisma. And while most of you are probably just tuning in for Recording Academy President Neil Portnow’s annual keynote address, I’ll be watching this year’s Grammys largely for the same reason I’ve watched them every year: to see if my predictions come true.

See, for just about as long as I’ve had this column, I’ve been making Grammy picks . It’s an annual tradition, mostly because I love the Grammys — just about as much as I love gambling.

And with a field of nominees that includes everyone from Eminem to Pinetop Perkins — not to mention a few of my favorite artists (Yay Robyn! Yay Arcade Fire!) — this year’s Grammys are shaping up to be the wildest in recent history. And when you couple that fact with my insatiable, downright destructive desire to wager, well, let’s just say this column practically wrote itself.

Of course, since there are something, like, 4,236 Grammy categories (approximately), I’m once again forced to limit my picks to the so-called Big Four: Album, Record and Song of the Year, plus Best New Artist (but just in case you’re wondering, Amy Hanaiali’i and the Slack Key Masters of Hawaii are my lead-pipe lock in the “Best Hawaiian Music Album” category). So here, for your betting pleasure — and my own personal demons — are my picks for the 53rd Grammys:

Album of the Year
» Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
» Eminem, Recovery
» Lady Antebellum, Need You Now
» Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster
» Katy Perry, Teenage Dream

My Take: As I wrote last year , Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream “is not a particularly solid album, but it’s one heck of a greatest-hits collection,” so she’s out first. The next to go is probably Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now since, outside of Nashville, I’m not sure enough folks know who they are (fun fact: Lady Antebellum is not a solo artist!). That leaves us with a formidable trio of challengers: Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs (critical groundswell, #1 debut on the Billboard charts), Gaga’s The Fame Monster (sold well, big singles, has Lady Gaga’s name on the front of it) and Em’s Recovery, which managed to combine critical praise with commercial appeal. It’ll be a lot closer than you think.

The Winner Is: I’m going with Recovery, if only because everyone loves a comeback story, and Em winning Album of the Year would all but complete his. Though, for whatever reason, I can’t shake the feeling that The Suburbs might shock the world here. So, if Arcade Fire wins, I’m going to claim that I picked them. That’s called hedging your bets, kids!

Record of the Year
» B.o.B (featuring Bruno Mars), “Nothin’ on You”
» Cee Lo Green, “F— You”
» Eminem (featuring Rihanna), “Love the Way You Lie”
» Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind”
» Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”

My Take: This is the award given out to the song, not the songwriters, and it’s probably the tightest field of the Big Four. Basically, everyone has a shot here, though, if you look close enough, you can poke holes in nearly every nominee. “Nothin’ on You” went to #1, but it’s not even B.o.B’s most popular song; “Love the Way You Lie” may be too dark; and “Empire State Of Mind” reached the peak of its popularity back when the Yankees weren’t hinging their title hopes on the reanimated corpse of Bartolo Colón. That leaves us with “F— You” and “Need You Now,” which is the kind of sentence that only the Grammys can make possible.

The Winner Is: Almost by default, I’m taking “Need You Now.” Not only will it grab the entirety of the Nashville vote, but the Recording Academy can’t completely shut country out of the Big Four, especially considering it’s the only genre of music that still, you know, actually moves units.

Song of the Year
» Cee Lo Green, “F— You”
» Eminem (featuring Rihanna), “Love the Way You Lie”
» Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
» Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me”
» Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs, “Beg Steal or Borrow”

My Take: This is the songwriters’ award, and at the last two Grammys, it went to the army of people responsible for Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” and, uh, Coldplay. So considering those two facts, let’s just say I’m at a complete loss when it comes to handicapping the field. Shoot, Ray LaMontagne could be the favorite, and I’ve never even heard his song (actually, I’m listening to it right now, and it’s kind of good). Please don’t hold it against me when I totally blow this pick.

The Winner Is: I’ll say “Love the Way You Lie,” because it’s about a pretty serious subject (love gone horribly wrong), and a win would give Em half of the night’s Big Four. And considering the year he had, that seems somewhat fitting. But I wouldn’t be surprised if “The House That Built Me” wins either. I’m waving the white flag.

Best New Artist
» Drake
» Esperanza Spalding
» Florence and the Machine
» Justin Bieber
» Mumford & Sons

My Take: Look, I’m sure Justin Bieber is a great kid, but he’s not going to win here (for reasons I covered last week ). Until she was announced as a nominee, I had never even heard of Esperanza Spalding, so she’s out too. That leaves us with three names, each of whom can make a pretty solid claim that they deserve the award — and I can just as easily make a counterclaim as to why they don’t. Drake sold a lot of albums, appeared on a lot of hits and was actually nominated for a pair of Grammys last year. Then again, all of that success may discourage voters, since he’s in no way a new artist. Florence and the Machine have the talent, the British pedigree and an ever-growing amount of pop-culture clout, though after Amy Winehouse and Adele, voters may be hesitant to give BNA to another British songbird. And Mumford & Sons are not only British and a throwback act, but they’re rapidly gaining traction on U.S. radio and albums charts. That said, they might still be too unknown, and their British-ness may be canceled out by Florence’s. Predicting the Grammys is hard work.

The Winner Is: I’ve seriously gone back and forth on this all week. The way I see it, this boils down to a dead heat between Florence and Mumford. One was hot last year, the other only continues to gather heat. In the end, I’ll say it’s Florence, if only because BNA has gone to so many female artists over the past decade, and I think she’s exactly the kind of artist Grammy voters love. Though I could just as easily see Mumford & Sons winning, too, so — you know what? I’m sticking with Florence. Sometimes you’ve got to make the call and then walk away.

Did Bigger Than the Sound get it right? Let us know in the comments!

Don’t miss “Snooki & Sway: Live From the Grammys,” a red-carpet live stream kicking off Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on MTV.com. And stick with us all Grammy night for coverage of the red carpet, the show, the afterparties and beyond!