Will Adele be the belle of the Grammy ball?
Adele is the rare star that doesn't need multiple magazine covers, a cosmetics contract or a clothing line to sell albums. She does it all based on the strength of that sumptuous voice and those stirring songs.
That's a rarity in today's pop world, where artists are overexposed and their music often comes second to what they're promoting in tandem with it.
Adele scored an unlikely critical and commercial triumph with "21," last year's best-selling album, all based off the artistry of songs like "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You." And she'll be richly rewarded come Sunday, when the Grammys hand out their trophies at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. While Kanye West is the lead nominee with seven, Adele, who's up for six, will be the act who dominates — well, at least that's what WE think.
Here's how the AP predicts the trophies will shake out Grammy night.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: "21," Adele; "Wasting Light," Foo Fighters; "Born This Way," Lady Gaga; "Doo-Wops & Hooligans," Bruno Mars; "Loud," Rihanna.
MOODY: The Grammys are famous for ignoring the shoo-in for some underdog in the top category, leading to a big shocker. That's just not gonna happen this year, though. None of these other albums can really even make the critical argument that they're better than "21," Adele's phenomenal and phenomenally successful album. This will be the topper on Adele's coronation on Grammy night.
FEKADU: So let's talk about who definitely won't win: Sorry Gaga, Bruno and Rih Rih. Foo Fighters, who strongly represent rock `n' roll in a pop/dance-dominated music world, has a chance. Well, no they don't. In one year Adele's "21" has sold more than six million copies and changed many lives, and I'm sure some of those people are members of The Recording Academy. She better give her ex a shout-out in her victory speech!
RECORD OF THE YEAR: "Rolling In the Deep," Adele; "Holocene," Bon Iver; "Grenade," Bruno Mars; "The Cave," Mumford & Sons; "Firework," Katy Perry.
FEKADU: The real competition here is between Adele and Mumford & Sons — whose songs are the best two of the bunch. But Adele not only had the record of the year, she had the best voice of the year, the best live performance of the year and the best everything of the year. She even had (one of the) best styles of the year (all black works, man!) If she doesn't win, I sure hope Kanye West jumps onstage and yells: "Adele had the best record of all-time. OF ALL-TIME!"
MOODY: Technically Adele has competition in this category, but really folks? None. As big as "Grenade" and "Firework" were, they are no match for Adele's smoldering performance, and Mumford & Sons and Bon Iver should split the bearded-hipster-indi e cred vote. Adele takes home the trophy.
SONG OF THE YEAR (songwriters): "All of the Lights," Jeff Bhasker, Stacy Ferguson, Malik Jones, Warren Trotter & Kanye West; "The Cave," Ted Dwane, Ben Lovett, Marcus Mumford & Country Winston; "Grenade," Brody Brown, Claude Kelly, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Bruno Mars & Andrew Wyatt; "Holocene," Justin Vernon; "Rolling In the Deep," Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth.
MOODY: Vernon is the only one to write a song without any help in this category, but as hauntingly beautiful as "Holocene" is, it's a little too obscure to really win here. "Rolling in the Deep" would be the obvious choice — a little too obvious, perhaps. It's a risk, but I'm betting that Grammy voters finally give Kanye a little love after wrongly dissing him for album of the year — just when he's starting not to care anymore.
FEKADU: She's wrong. I'm a Kanye supporter — well sometimes I am — but he shouldn't win this for a number of reasons. No.1, "All of the Lights" should NOT be the first rap song to earn this award. No. 2, the song is catchy, but is it great enough to be nominated here? He should have won this honor years ago for "Jesus Walks." But, Halle Berry did win the Oscar for "Monster's Ball" instead of "Losing Isaiah." OK, back to the music. Oh yeah, this will be going to Mumford & Sons.
NEW ARTIST: The Band Perry; Bon Iver; J. Cole; Nicki Minaj; Skrillex.
FEKADU: It's nice to see an electronic artist like Skrillex here, but he won't win. J. Cole's votes won't match those for Minaj. If Barbies could vote, Minaj would have a better shot. So it's down to critical indie group Bon Iver and The Band Perry, who have won so many music honors from all 10,000 of those awards shows for country music. I guess that means they'll win here, too.
MOODY: Skrillex is probably the least known act, but like Mesfin says, he won't pull off an Esperanza Spalding-type upset this year. Bon Iver is the indie choice but did anyone really listen to that album outside of the Pitchfork-set? J. Cole is too new, so that leaves us with a battle between Nicki Minaj and The Band Perry. As super-hot as Minaj is, I'm guessing Grammy voters will choose the musicianship of the sibling trio, who also had great commercial success with "If I Die Young," making them the balanced choice.
POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE: "Someone Like You," Adele; "You and I," Lady Gaga; "Grenade," Bruno Mars; "Firework," Katy Perry; "(Expletive) Perfect," Pink.
MOODY: This marks the first year that the men and women are duking it out for vocal performance, and judging by the list of nominees, Grammy voters aren't too impressed with male vocals this year. So despite his nomination, Mars won't likely win this battle with the ladies. Out of the girl-power clique, no one really has the power of Adele (though Pink comes close). Combine that with the heartbreaking emotion that she conveys, and you've got your winner. Adele, yet again.
FEKADU: What she said.
ROCK SONG: "The Cave," Mumford & Sons (Ted Dwane, Ben Lovett, Marcus Mumford & Country Winston); "Down By the Water," The Decemberists (Colin Meloy); "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall," Coldplay (Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion & Chris Martin); "Lotus Flower," Radiohead (Colin Greenwood, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Phil Selway & Thom Yorke); "Walk," Foo Fighters (Foo Fighters).
FEKADU: Last year, Mumford & Sons didn't win best new artist or best rock song. Grammy voters didn't know how deserving the band was then, but they won't make that mistake again. Congrats boys on your Grammy win!
MOODY: Don't start building that trophy case just yet, boys. Mumford & Sons are still a little too new and a little too indie for Grammy voters to embrace (besides, they'd split the indie vote with the kings of that genre, Radiohead). The Foo Fighters had one of the top rock albums of the year and Grohl and Co. are veterans who are still rocking — and the Grammys love survivors. And that's why the Foos will win here.
R&B ALBUM: "F.A.M.E.," Chris Brown; "Second Chance," El DeBarge; "Love Letter," R. Kelly; "Pieces of Me," Ledisi; "Kelly," Kelly Price.
MOODY: DeBarge's "Second Chance" has nothing on the second chance that Brown has been enjoying. The fact that he's nominated shows that Grammy voters don't hold a grudge for that Rihanna attack three years ago, and his comeback after being labeled the ogre of the music world has surely won over many former critics. Look for Brown's continued redemption with a win.
FEKADU: I'm not even going to pick any of these albums. I'm still upset Beyonce's "4" isn't nominated here. (OK, I have a bet with Nekesa so for strategy, I'll also go with "F.A.M.E." And if this is one of the awards to make the live telecast, be ready to see Chris Breezy cry, again!)
RAP/SUNG COLLABORATION: "Party," Beyoncé & André 3000; "I'm On One," DJ Khaled, Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne; "I Need a Doctor," Dr. Dre, Eminem & Skylar Grey; "What's My Name?," Rihanna & Drake; "Motivation," Kelly Rowland & Lil Wayne; "All of the Lights," Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie.
FEKADU: I wish Kelly Rowland and Lil Wayne would win for "Motivation," one of last year's best songs. Or "I'm On One," which could give DJ Khaled, Drake and Rick Ross their first Grammy wins. But that isn't likely. Look for Kanye, the rapper with the most Grammys (14 and counting), to get the win for "All of the Lights," which is also up for song of the year.
MOODY: It's hard to compete against a song that even featured Sir Elton John in the mix. For as much as people love to hate on Kanye, Grammy voters love him when it comes to the rap categories. No need for a West hissy-fit here — he'll take the award, thank you.
COUNTRY ALBUM: "My Kinda Party," Jason Aldean; "Chief," Eric Church; "Own the Night," Lady Antebellum; "Red River Blue," Blake Shelton; "Here for a Good Time," George Strait; "Speak Now," Taylor Swift.
MOODY: Swift was robbed by not getting a nomination in the general album category; she's probably already written a searing acoustic-guitar ditty about the snub for the new album. But maybe she won't publish it if Grammy voters do right by her in the country category. Chances are she won't be singing about Grammy blues after Sunday night.
FEKADU: Lady Antebellum won the coveted album of the year trophy last year and Swift the year before. But their follow-ups clearly weren't as good, according to Grammy voters. Now these country acts know how the rappers feel! Jason Aldean, though, had a tremendous year, and he deserves — and will — win this honor. Now cue up that new, angry Swift song!
Nekesa Mumbi Moody is the AP's music editor. Mesfin Fekadu covers entertainment for the AP. Follow both on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nekesamumbi and http://twitter.com/musicmesfin
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