The only thing more fun than watching Mariah Carey wail "Please Come Home for Christmas" during last night's Grammy Nomination Special/ Concert/ Self-Congratulatory Hoedown was realizing that, just like Kanye West at last year's awards, this year's top vote getter, Lil Wayne, is probably going to be trumped by an old guy. This year's Grammy heritage pick is once again (not) Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant, who picked up nods in all three big categories for his justifiably honored collaboration with Grammy crush Alison Krauss, Raising Sand.
Practice that "it's cool to be nominated" smile, Weezy, because Album of the Year is probably not your game to win this year. And Adele, they may love your Mercury Prize-nominated white-girl-singing-the-blues thing in England, and good on you for snagging a Record of the Year nom for "Chasing Pavements" (I dare anyone to hum a few bars), but Plant and Krauss are probably going to snag that one too. But we have to give the Grammy voters (at least the ones who let their Web-savvy 13-year-old daughters cast their ballots for them) props for including M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" in the category, surely the only song in Grammy history to feature gunshots, a cash register and a Clash sample as part of the chorus, not to mention lyrics about "weed and bongs."
And for those reasons alone, Ms. Arulpragasam probably isn't going to be hoisting any Golden Gramophones over her head on February 9, either. Even though the Recording Academy likes to put up a "forward-thinking" front (check those Radiohead nods), when it gets down to it, they generally vote like the industry vets they are. But enough about who's not going to win on Grammy night — here's a look at who we think will.
Album of the Year: Just in case we weren't clear, Academy voters like to play it safe when it comes to handing out hardware — and that means rewarding the "legend" for a job relatively well done (just like Herbie Hancock at last year's ceremony). Sorry, Radiohead, Weezy and Ne-Yo, this one goes to Plant and Krauss' Sand. Or, in a pinch, perhaps Coldplay's Viva la Vida, because they're one of the biggest, most successful rock acts on the planet (and sort of milquetoast, which also appeals to voters).
Record of the Year: Again, we're thinking Plant and Krauss, though it would be relatively amazing if M.I.A. won, took the stage hugely pregnant, raised her Grammy in the air and began spouting revolutionary slogans about the Tamil Tigers and a "Third World democracy." Academy President Neil Portnow's beard would probably spontaneously combust.
Song of the Year: It would be awesome if Estelle's effervescent "American Boy" won here, but these are Grammy voters we're talking about, so think radio-friendly. Which means ... congrats, Coldplay, your "Viva la Vida" is the song of the year! (You could also substitute "Jason Mraz" and "I'm Yours" or "Sara Bareilles" and "Love Song," and it would have much the same impact).
Best New Artist: Lady Antebellum? Yeah, we said the same thing about the Nashville trio who apparently wrote a song that appeared on "The Hills." And Jazmine Sullivan — cool album, but really? Of course, the Jonas Brothers were more than happy to fill the honorary they've-released-two-albums-already-but-are-still-considered-"new" slot this year. But it is entirely possible that Duffy and Adele will share this award, because no one would be able to tell the difference between the two.
Best Rap Solo Performance: In a category of heavyweights (and Lupe Fiasco), we're gonna go with Wayne's "A Milli," if only because voters might feel a twinge of remorse for shutting him out everywhere else. Two relatively amazing other possibilities: Snoop Dogg's "Sexual Eruption" wins, and he accepts the award with dripping Jheri curls and a keytar slung around his neck. Or Nas wins, and someone has to awkwardly read out the title of his song, you know ... the one called "N.-.-.-.e.r (The Slave and the Master)."
Best Rap Song: Another big-name category (Weezy! T.I.! Jay! Kanye! Snoop!), which means that the one lesser name — Lupe again — will probably win here. Common sense does not apply to the Grammys (though Common often does).
Best Rap Album: Academy voters sure love Lupe Fiasco, whose The Cool snagged another nom here (too bad voters don't also buy albums). Wayne's Tha Carter III should be the favorite here, because it's the year's biggest-selling hip-hop album, but don't count out Jay-Z's American Gangster, which came out so long ago that voters might have forgotten that it was relatively underwhelming.
Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals: No offense to Coldplay, but compared to AC/DC and Kings of Leon, "Violet Hill" is about as rocking as a preschool play-date. Speaking of KOL, there's another song that will give Portnow a coronary if it wins, thanks to lyrics about, well, let's just say doing something to someone who's driving.
Best Rock Album: Somehow, despite having one of the year's hugest songs — rock or otherwise — Kid Rock landed only two Grammy noms, one for Rock Album and one for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance (where he's up against acts like Ne-Yo, James Taylor and Paul McCartney, whose "That Was Me" has a title that sounds like someone copping to a bit of flatulence). That would make Rock the favorite here, except, ooh! Coldplay are nominated! Never mind.
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance: You would think, given the success of Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl," that she'd be the lock here, but considering that she was shut out of the big four categories, she doesn't look like that safe of a bet. So, let's say Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" here. Or maybe Adele's "Chasing Pavements." Or Duffy's "Mercy." You know, whichever.
Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals: Al Green and Jennifer Hudson are nominated here, so ... Hey! Wait! Boyz II Men got a nom! Welcome back, fellas, you win in a landslide.
So what do you think? Let us know below!