The 2012 Grammy Nominees Revealed … Possibly

Adele, Kanye West and more Grammy guesses, in Bigger Than the Sound.

On Wednesday night (November 30), CBS will officially kick off the self-congratulatory season with “The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!!,” an emphatically titled extravaganza that not only features performances from some of music’s biggest stars (Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Usher, etc.), but also boosts the network’s burgeoning LL Cool J branch by something like 20 percent, since he’s taking leave from “NCIS” duties to host the telecast.

Oh, and as the title implies, they’ll also be unveiling a handful of Grammy nominees too, which means that, once again, it’s time for me to blindly speculate on who will get the nods. After all, it was less than 10 months ago that acts like the Arcade Fire and Esperanza Spalding shocked the world — or at least Steve Stoute — by taking home half of the so-called “Big Four” Grammys, victories that seemed out of place in just about every conceivable way, especially when you realize Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and the Kings of Leon were the big winners at the previous year’s show (though it should be noted people were still plenty mad about that too).

Combine that annual confusion with everything that goes on before the show — the addition of the so-called “Lady Gaga Rule,” the subtraction of some 30 categories (farewell, Best Hawaiian Music Album) and the expansion (and subsequent contraction) of the Grammy eligibility period itself — and you can understand why trying to predict who will pick up nominations is nearly as impossible as attempting to figure out Herman Cain’s taste in women.

Then again, perhaps this year is different. You’d have to be crazy to bet against Adele, who not only has the year’s best-selling album and a pair of smash singles, but, as her previous Grammy wins prove, is exactly the kind of artist voters love. Katy Perry built off her Grammy noms last year by notching three #1 singles this year; Rihanna had two of her own. Lady Gaga sold 1.1 million albums in a week. Nicki Minaj broke through to the big time. Taylor Swift continued to be Taylor Swift. In short, 2011 was a year dominated by female artists, which means you can probably expect the same from the Grammy nominations too.

Then again, keep in mind there are a bunch of albums released last year that are eligible this year — efforts like Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Bruno Mars’ Doo Wops & Hooligans — not to mention token old-dude releases by Tony Bennett and Paul Simon. And don’t forget about country acts like Lady Antebellum and Jason Aldean. Or time-tested (Grammy-rich) rock outfits like Foo Fighters or Coldplay. Things aren’t as cut-and-dried as you’d figure. These are the Grammys after all.

So here, without further ado, are my nomination predictions. And even though the Grammys cut back on categories, I’m just focusing on the Big Four: Album, Record and Song of the Year, plus Best New Artist. Cut me some slack — it’s hard enough trying to sort through everyone who’s even eligible.

Album of the Year
» Adele, 21
» Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
» Lady Gaga, Born This Way
» Taylor Swift, Speak Now
» Tony Bennett Duets II

Like I said, Adele is a mortal-friggin’-lock here (and just about everywhere else), and since Gaga’s last two efforts picked up AOTY noms, I think Born This Way is a shoo-in too. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was a critical smash, and Kanye’s been an AOTY nominee three times before, so pencil him in too. In a pinch, I’ll take Taylor Swift and Tony Bennett in the last two slots, though they could easily go to Lady Antebellum’s Own the Night and Simon’s So Beautiful or So What, depending on the whims of Grammy voters. Having said all that, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Doo Wops & Hooligans or the Foos’ Wasting Light grab a nom either.

Record of the Year
» Adele, “Rolling in the Deep”
» Bruno Mars, “Grenade”
» Foster the People, “Pumped Up Kicks”
» Jason Aldean (featuring Kelly Clarkson), “Don’t You Wanna Stay”
» Katy Perry, “Firework”

The award given to the artist, producer and mixer. Last year, Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” bested the likes of B.o.B, Jay-Z and Eminem to win it, so the voters like to mix it up here. “Rolling in the Deep” is a no-brainer, and Bruno Mars was nommed last year for his work on “Nothin’ on You,” so I think he gets a nod for “Grenade.” Katy Perry’s “Firework” has been pushed hard by her label, so voters will probably reward its success with a nomination. I have a sneaking suspicion Foster the People are this year’s token left-field nom (taking their place alongside former nominees like M.I.A. and Gorillaz), and since he’s performing at the aforementioned nominations concert (and because his song was such a hit), I’ll give the final slot to Aldean. Other dark-horse candidates include Gaga’s “Yoü and I,” Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera’s “Moves Like Jagger,” Coldplay’s “Paradise” or even (pleasepleaseplease) Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.”

Song of the Year
» Adele, “Rolling in the Deep”
» Bruno Mars, “Grenade”
» Katy Perry, “Firework”
» Lady Gaga, “Yoü and I”
» Taylor Swift, “Back to December”

The award given to the actual songwriters. Generally speaking, Grammy voters like to get classy when it comes to nominees, which is why last year you saw folks like Ray LaMontagne and Miranda Lambert snag nods. I don’t even have to tell you that “Rolling in the Deep” is the favorite, and I think Gaga gets a nod here too, since she was nominated for “Poker Face” a few years back and, well, “Yoü and I” just has a certain gravitas to it. Voters love Swift, which means they’ll probably love her mature turn on “December” too. I’ll give Mars and Perry the final slots here, since the former knows how to write a surefire smash and the latter (or, more specifically, her team of writers) dared to get inspirational with “Firework.” Then again, you could remove either of them and put defending champs Lady Antebellum (they won this one too) in the mix for “Just a Kiss” or maybe Aldean. A super long shot is Minaj’s “Super Bass,” but stranger things have happened.

Best New Artist
» The Band Perry
» Bon Iver
» Ellie Goulding
» Foster the People
» Nicki Minaj

Ah, Best New Artist — where “new” is a relative term. You’ve probably noticed I keep mentioning Nicki Minaj, who may get shut out of Record and Song of the Year, but seems like a lock to get nommed here (she probably won’t win, though). Foster the People seem like sure bets too, as do the Band Perry, who fill the token country slot. My last two picks — eh, I’m basically just guessing, though Bon Iver’s album sold surprisingly well and was a critical darling, and Ellie Goulding is, uh, British, and given that both Adele and Amy Winehouse won BNA previously, that may be enough to get her in. Other choices: the other Brit, Jessie J; the other country act, the Civil Wars; pop-meisters Hot Chelle Rae; singer/songwriter Christina Perri; or pintsize “America’s Got Talent” runner-up Jackie Evancho.

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