Best Female Pop Vocal Performance: In a category that claims to have an emphasis on vocal, there’s a lot of hit-making head scratchers here. Beyonce’s live rendition of “Halo” is an interesting contender here.
Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: How can anyone other than MJ win this category? Seriously! Bruno Mars and John Mayer will both have to look to their other nominations to bear awards.
Best New Artist: Drake’s buzz has waned since his debut album, Thank Me Later dropped but Beiber Fever hasn’t gone anywhere. Anybody but Justin Beiber here is the Recording Academy just being pretentious.
Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: How is Sade a duo or group again? Does her hotness count as it’s own entity now thus making her a duo?
Best Pop Collaborations With Vocals: Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s “Telephone” had the better video. Katy Perry and Snoop’s “California Girls” was alright but “Airplanes, Part II” by B.o.B, Eminem and Hayley Williams of Paramore was a smash hit. No contest the year’s best collaboration.
Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance: Tough one. It doesn’t get more traditional than Calvin Richardson or Betty Wright but R. Kelly is R. Kelly and I think his name will be the difference in this one.
Best R&B Performance By A Duo or Group With Vocals: The kids will go with Chris Brown or John Legend & The Roots but the Academy is known for rewarding a comeback. Sade’s Soldier of Love takes this in my head.
Best Urban/Alternative Performance: Cee-Lo’s “F**k You” feels too obvious, look for Janelle Monae & Big Boi’s “Tightrope” to steal this one as a dark horse.
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: Which song did you here more, “Nothin’ On You” or “Empire State of Mind”? I say Jay-Z wins this battle because B.o.B & Bruno Mars have other opportunities to take home awards for this song already.
Best R&B Song: Fantasia’s “Bittersweet” and Jaheim’s “Finding My Way Back” are strong and John Legend’s name, along with the bump from “Shine” being in Waiting for Superman will help but honestly, “Second Chance” by El Debarge is probably the best of the five here.
Best R&B Album: Another hard decision between some pretty evenly received albums. What hurts Monica and Raheem DeVaughn here are is the strength of the singles. Fantasia may have this one.
Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: Who would have ever guessed El DeBarge would be a Grammy nominee in 2011. This category feels like Usher’s to lose with “There’s Goes My Baby”.
Best Rap Solo Performance: How could it be anything other than “Power” by Kanye West, right? Then again, Eminem won a Grammy last year for an album most people never played twice and “Not Afraid” was all over the place. Two-way race here. Sorry T.I.
Best Female R&B Vocal Performance: A category of familiar names but sort of average records. Could Jazmine Sullivan’s get a Grammy as a parting gift for her career hiatus? Maybe Fantasia.
Best Rap Album: Considering they gave the last Grammy in this category to Eminem for Relapse, an album that received mixed reviews at best, this year’s nominees are admirable for actually spark debate. Hard not to say The Adventures of Bobby Ray for the hits it kept churning out. Same goes for The Blueprint 3 but Eminem’s didn’t get all these nominations for nothing. While I’d love to see The Roots steal this one, I don’t see that happening.
Best Rap Song: “Nothin’ On You” loses votes here once you start arguing what defines a rap song. “Empire State of Mind” feels like the no-brainer but Mr. Carter and Mr. Mathers have hedged their bets well with two nods from the same album in one category.
Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group: While I’d love to see “Lose My Mind” by Young Jeezy and Plies win here, I think Big Boi’s “Shutterbugg” was a crossover smash. Don’t sleep on Jay-Z here, “On to the Next One” turned into a conspiracy theorist’s dream virally
Best Contemporary R&B Album: If the question’s which one did I enjoy the most, it’s Ryan Leslie’s Transition. If I had to put money on it, I think Chris Brown or Janelle Monae walk away with the hardware.
Record Of The Year: A loaded category with hip-hop filling four of the five spots, it may seem like forever ago but “Nothin’ On You” and “Empire State of Mind” had extended reigns as the song that wouldn’t go away but “F*ck You” is the song freshest in our minds so expect it to take the title. If Eminem’s “Love The Way You Lie” wins, the fix is in.
Song Of The Year: You’re not the only one asking what’s the difference between this category and Record Of The Year but again, it feels like Cee-Lo’s smash hit would be the frontrunner in this category.
Album Of The Year: None of the five nominees albums feel like albums we’ll be telling our kids about but in a battle for least mediocre, I think it’s a two-way battle between Eminem and Katy Perry. Lady Gaga’s album, while monstrous, irked as many people as it spoke to
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The 53rd annual Grammy awards air Sunday night at 8 p.m. and in an era where mainstream artists may be dominating the airwaves like before but aren’t carving out the same space in our iPods, it’s interesting to see how the Grammys, which still carry a lot of weight, will be divvied up amongst a small contingent of the same stars, nominated multiple times.