Grammy Preview: Predicting The Winners

Dylan, Hanson, Fiona Apple, Paula Cole expected to win this year.

Let the applause begin for Paula Cole, Hanson, Fiona Apple and -- who could forget this year's biggest favorite -- Bob Dylan.

These nominees in some of the 92 Grammy award categories will likely walk away Wednesday with coveted gold phonograph statues at the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences' (NARAS) 40th annual ceremony, held this year at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

While we at SonicNet and Addicted To Noise won't purport to forecast who's going to win Best Tropical Latin Performance (though our eyes are on Olga Tanon), we called upon our expertise to predict winners for several of the Grammys' best-known award divisions.

And then, since the most deserving artists -- in our eyes, at least -- don't always nab the gold, we'll tell you which nominees we think should win.

She didn't pick up the most nominations (that honor went to Babyface with eight), but solo songstress Paula Cole fell short of that mark by only one and was the only artist to be nominated in all four general categories (Record, Album and Song of the Year and Best New Artist). For that distinction, she's a heavy favorite.

We're placing bets that the Massachusetts-born singer's hit "Where Have

All The Cowboys Gone?" will emerge victorious in the performance and production categories of Record of the Year and in the songwriter's division

of Song of the Year.

For Record of the Year, we're more inclined to tip our hats to the bubblegum pleasure of "MMMBop" by the three brothers in Hanson (who received production help from Beck vets the Dust Brothers) over fellow nominees Shawn Colvin ("Sunny Came Home"), Sheryl Crow ("Everyday Is A Winding Road"), R. Kelly ("I Believe I Can Fly") and Cole.

We'd then hand the Song of the Year statue to veteran singer Shawn Colvin (along with partner John Leventhal) for "Sunny Came Home," and take a pass on Cole's track, Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly," ska-rock No Doubters Gwen and Eric Stefani ("Don't Speak") and Dianne Warren, whose "How Do I Live" was recorded by both young country star LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood (WHO IS SHE?).

If NARAS salutes Cole with Record and Song of the Year awards, it follows that she'll also receive Best New Artist. We'd save that honor, however, for angst-ridden piano rocker Fiona Apple and her youthful fury, divvying up the consolation prizes among Cole, Hanson, new rapper Erykah Badu and the newest king of sampling, Puff Daddy.

For Album of the Year, we predict sound agreement between SonicNet and the Academy on Bob Dylan's Time Out Of Mind, although we might differ on our justifications.

While NARAS may be shamed into honoring the eminent songwriter for never having awarded him Album of the Year before, we simply believe Time Out Of Mind was, without question, one of the finest collections of music issued in '97. Left in the cold for this category, however, are Brit-rockers Radiohead (OK Computer, a close contender for us), Babyface (The Day), Cole (This Fire) and Paul McCartney (Flaming Pie).

Although we won't delineate our picks for the other seven-dozen categories,

we will offer up predictions and recommendations in two notable arenas:

For Best Male Rock Vocal Performance (a boomer slate if there ever was one,

including Dylan, David Bowie, John Fogerty, John Mellencamp and Bruce

Springsteen), we'd again bestow the award on Dylan, and we think NARAS will

do the same.

With much more interesting nominees in the Female Rock Vocal category,

NARAS will give the nod to Apple for "Criminal," while we're torn

between folk-rocker Ani DiFranco ("Shy") and punk legend Patti Smith ("1959").

Condolences to Meredith Brooks ("Bitch") and Abra Moore ("Four Leaf Clover"). [Mon., Feb. 23, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]