The 53rd Grammy Awards are upon us, and they bring with them dozens of artists competing in 109 different categories. The performers on the show — which airs live on Sunday, February 13 — include Eminem, Cee Lo Green, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Drake, Arcade Fire, Justin Bieber, Miranda Lambert, Katy Perry, Muse, B.o.B, Usher, Bruno Mars, Jaden Smith and Janelle Monae. It promises to be one of the biggest nights in the history of music, and MTV News will be bringing you wall-to-wall coverage of the big event.
But the awards are the big draw, and just as the MTV Newsroom Blog does with the MTV Video Music Awards, here are a series of guides to some of the biggest categories on the docket. This time around: Album of the Year.
Over the past few years, no prize at the Grammy Awards has been a greater wild card than Album of the Year. Ignoring last year’s victory by Taylor Swift (for Fearless), the Album of the Year award has gone to somewhat esoteric entries in the past few years. The reasoning is relatively simple: Because everybody votes for Album of the Year (no matter what the background or genre of expertise), the singular representations from particular music worlds tend to overcome pop albums that draw votes away from one another. For example, while most people from the pop and rock universes probably split their votes between Kanye West’s Graduation and Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black in 2008, people from the jazz and folk worlds only had Herbie Hancock’s River: the Joni Letters to support (and thus give it a victory).
So it’s not necessarily automatic that Eminem — who is the most-nominated artist at this year’s show — will take home an Album of the Year prize for Recovery. After all, his competition is stiff, with Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now and Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster all competing for the prize. Both Ladies — Gaga and Antebellum — draw from a lot of disparate fans from a lot of different areas of the music world, so they could both get endorsements from huge microcosms of voters. Arcade Fire probably doesn’t have enough buzz to draw all the rock fans, and Perry can probably only draw support away from Gaga.
But who will ultimately win? Though the odds are in Eminem’s favor, Album of the Year is reserved only for country and curve balls. That means that Lady Antebellum will be walking away with an underdog victory.
Notable Winners: The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1968); Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life (1977); Michael Jackson, Thriller (1984); U2, The Joshua Tree (1988); Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1999); Outkast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2004); Taylor Swift, Fearless (2010)
Notable Robberies: This category has had so many that it’s difficult to only focus on a few, but the fact that Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature beat both Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP and Radiohead’s Kid A in 2001 is downright criminal.