We love gambling. Like, really love it. In fact, we're starting to get the shakes just thinking about some sweet, sweet wagering right now (some people might think that uncontrollable spasms are a sign that we have a problem ... we prefer to think of them as nothing more than our "pre-winning jitters").
Of course, one of the few things in the world that equals our love for gambling is our love for the Grammys (we're suckers for overblown production numbers). So we started thinking that it'd be a good idea to combine the two ... sort of a no-holds-barred wager-fest.
The only problem? Well, turns out we're colossally bad at gambling (or we've just had a long, unbroken string of bad luck). We had Hatton big over Mayweather. We picked the Patriots to cover. And just last year, we handicapped the race for Best New Artist at the Grammys — and famously bet the house on Corrine Bailey Rae, citing the Recording Academy's long-running "infatuation with girls-with-guitars," and pointing to the success of her song "Put Your Records On," which was nominated for Song of the Year.
Naturally, Carrie Underwood won.
We were dejected. But, as any good gambler knows, you've always got to get back on the horse. So, for your betting pleasure, we proudly present our second-annual attempt at picking the Best New Artist winner. You could consider this your unofficial bettor's guide, except, as we mentioned above, we generally are terrible at wagering. So to rectify that, we've also consulted a pair of experts — the oddsmakers at Ladbrokes, the largest betting company in the U.K., and the online gaming big shots at Bodoglife.com — to get their takes on the category. Something tells us you might want to trust them instead of us.
Why She'll Win: She got more Grammy nominations than anyone else (except Kanye), including nods for Record, Album and Song of the Year, and she landed more tabloid coverage than pretty much every other nominee combined. She's both "retro" enough (the beehive, the voice, the sound) to appeal to older Academy voters (which is most of them), and sufficiently "now" enough (the rehab, the blogs, the tabloid coverage) to make those voters' kids actually tune in to this year's telecast (which is, ultimately, the goal of all this.) And her Back to Black album sold more than 1.5 million copies. Plus, if she actually does beam in via satellite, there is roughly an 85 percent chance she does/says something that will make headlines around the globe the following morning.
Why She Won't: See the previous sentence. Also, voters are strangely loyal to American artists, and Winehouse, who is British, might have a difficult time changing that. After all, the last non-American to win the BNA honor was Fabrice Morvan — better known as one-half of Milli Vanilli — in 1990. Since the duo were later stripped of their award, you'd have to go all the way back to 1986, when Sade took it, to find a proper foreign-born Best New Artist. Still, all of that seems like grasping at straws. Amy's the one to beat, though just barely.
Why She'll Win: Leslie Feist has all the critical approval of Winehouse (and nearly as many nominations) and none of the accompanying drama. Her album The Reminder sold remarkably well (more than 500,000 copies), due in no small part to the success of "1234," a charming bit of indie-pop that became one of the year's biggest songs, thanks to its placement in an iPod Nano advertisement. And unlike Winehouse, she's actually confirmed to show up and perform at the Grammy telecast.
Why She Won't: At the end of the day, she's not Amy Winehouse. Feist hasn't sold as many records or had as many hits as the beehived one, and her indie cred might actually work against her here (since Winehouse will siphon some of it away). In any other year, she might very well be the favorite, but 2007 was clearly the year of "Rehab." Still, stranger things have happened.
Why She'll Win: Hey, if Carrie Underwood can do it, so can she. Like last year's Best New Artist, Swift won the Horizon Award (given to country's best newcomer) at the CMA Awards. And like Underwood, she's young (just 18), blond and has released a slew of singles that managed to cross over to the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She's also sold more albums — more than 2.3 million — than anyone else in this category, which can't hurt. Plus, she seemed legitimately thrilled when her name was called at the Grammy nominees press conference back in December.
Why She Won't: She's probably too much like Carrie Underwood, and voters might shy away from giving the same award to the same type of artist two years in a row. And though Swift has sold a bunch of records, she's also really, really young. Her time will come, it just likely won't be this year.
Why They'll Win: They're popular with the kids! And that Hayley Williams, boy, what a spark plug! Also, emo-punk has proven to be a commercially viable thing — their Riot! album is just the latest breakout success, with sales of more than 770,000 copies — and none of their contemporaries (Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Panic at the Disco) have ever won a Grammy, so voters might see fit to honor Paramore as an indirect way of recognizing the entire genre ...
Why They Won't: ... but we wouldn't count on it. If Fall Out Boy didn't win Best New Artist in 2006, we don't see Paramore doing it either. Also, take a look at everyone who's ever won the BNA — then look at Paramore. One of these things is not like the other.
Why She'll Win: She's from New Orleans, which could garner her some sympathy, given what the Crescent City has been through in recent years. According to the Los Angeles Times, she is scheduled to appear in the upcoming George Clooney/ Renée Zellweger rom-com "Leatherheads." Also, her name sounds like a brand of antidepressant medication. Those things aren't exactly positives, but we're sort of looking for anything at this point.
Why She Won't: Because the only thing we know about her is that she's from New Orleans, is in a George Clooney flick and has a name that sounds like an SSRI. As a bonus, not many people know how to pronounce that name. Which means wager at your own risk.
The Pros Picks:
Amy Winehouse: 1:2 Feist: 3:1 Ledisi: 3:1 Taylor Swift: 5:1 Paramore: 6:1
"Amy Winehouse's problems are well-documented but should not mask her unique talent," a spokesperson for the U.K. betting company told MTV News. "Her music is consistently top quality, and we'll be very surprised if she's beaten to the award. If a shock was to happen, Feist and Ledisi are the two most likely to upset the odds. We like the look of them but can't see beyond a Winehouse triumph. ... Taylor Swift and Paramore don't do it for us, and punters have been less-than-impressed by them. It'll be a huge surprise if either landed the Grammy."
Bodoglife.com bookmaker Richard Gardner
Amy Winehouse: 5:4 Feist: 3:2 Paramore: 9:4 Ledisi: 9:2 Taylor Swift: 5:1
"With the overwhelming success of Amy Winehouse's second album, Back to Black, it should come as no surprise to anyone that she is a 5:4 favorite to take down the Grammy for Best New Artist," Gardner said. "Bringing up a close second and with a nearly as-successful year as Winehouse is Canadian indie-rock sensation Feist, with odds of 3:2. After their song '1234' was featured in an iPod Nano commercial and ranked second on the top 10 Best Songs of 2007 list by Time magazine, the popularity of the song and the artist alike exploded. The past year has also been good to Paramore and has seen the group featured on 'Late Night With Conan O'Brien,' MTV's Artist of the Week and a successful Vans Warped Tour, which is why we have them third place at 9:4. Bringing up fourth and fifth at 9:2 and 5:1, respectively, are Ledisi and Taylor Swift. Both have had respectable years, but when standing alongside powerhouses like Winehouse and Feist, their chances are slim."
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