So, with the CMTs just past and the American Music Awards in just a couple of weeks, the music award season is in full bloom.
The cutoff period for consideration for the Grammy Awards was September 30th. This means that albums with a release date ranging from the first week of October 2006 to the first week of October 2007 can be considered, with the later period of releases included because they ship to stores during the last week of September.
Grammy has become a bit hard to predict over the course of the past couple of years, and the muted list of this year’s releases makes things even easier to predict. Parity will be the name of the game here, with no surefire Norah Jones, Dixie Chicks or OutKast release to clean up at the ceremony. However, there are a couple of folks that I think will be smiling hard when the nominations are announced in mid-December.
KANYE WEST: He’s been nominated for Album Of The Year for each of his first two albums, and (in case you’ve been under a rock and have not heard his complaining) he lost both times (to Ray Charles and U2). “Graduation” has had the biggest balance between critical cred and sales (1.7 million in two months of release), so this could be the year Mr. West finally receives his big trophy (although it would be highly ironic that he would win for his weakest album…) His competition??…
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: “Magic” snuck in just under the deadline, and…well, Bruce is as much of a gimme in Grammy world as any other artist. It’s Bruce’s return to rock after the well-received “Seeger Sessions” & ‘Devils & Dust”, and “Radio Nowhere” is his most catchy single in two decades. I see Record and Album Of The Year nominations in Springsteen’s future, with an outside chance at winning both awards.
AMY WINEHOUSE: She’s almost a lock for Best New Artist (unless the stench of bad press from her assorted substance issues follows her). “Back To Black” is one of the year’s biggest surprise successes, and, despite her problems, she’s quite obviously a real talent. Besides, how much of an entertainment lift would the Grammy telecast receive based on a performance by the wildly unstable Winehouse?
WILD CARDS: Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell both went over to Starbucks and scored fairly successful albums. Grammy has a history of awarding veterans. It’s not out of the realm of possibility to see either of these legends up for Album of the Year, where anything from Linkin Park to the Dreamgirls Soundtrack Album could be up for this. Two things that will NOT be nominated are the two biggest selling albums of the year so far-Daughtry and the High School Musical 2 Soundtrack. “HSM2” is way too kid-friendly, and Grammy has never been kind to grunge-lite. Daughtry will get a Best New Artist nomination (where Winehouse, Lily Allen, Robin Thicke and Colbie Caillat all have a chance at getting nominated), but that’ll be the extent of it.
Speaking of “Dreamgirls”: although Beyonce’s “B-Day” is no longer eligible, several singles from the album are, and I’d be completely stunned if “Irreplaceable” didn’t end up with a Record of the Year Nomination. Other potential nominees: Springsteen’s “Radio Nowhere”, West’s “Stronger”, Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry”). On the R&B side, look for big mentions for Thicke, John Legend (whose “Once Again” is eligible this year although it seems like the album has been out longer) and the strong comeback effort by Chaka Khan.
With a month to go before nominations are officially announced, lots of speculation will ensue, but I’m pretty confident that my picks will end up coming out of the presenters’ lips.