54th Grammys: The nominees, who will win, and who deserves to win - Reverb

54th Grammy Awards: The nominees, who will win, and who deserves to win

Nominations for the 54th Grammy Awards were announced in a primetime television special Wednesday night, with the full list appearing on Grammy.com this morning. As reported by NPR, this is the first year that the Recording Academy has reduced the number of categories from 109 to 78. Among the year’s expected leaders: Adele, Bruno Mars and Foo Fighters. Indie-folk icon Bon Iver has several nominations for his sophomore self-titled album, including Best New Artist. While most avid music fans first discovered Justin Vernon and his Bon Iver moniker on early 2008’s “For Emma, Forever Ago,” Vernon’s guest vocals on Kanye West’s 2010 release “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” no doubt propelled him into the conciousness of a notoriously late-to-the-game Academy.

Denver producer and OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder faces heavyweights Danger Mouse and Paul Epworth in the category for Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical. Among Tedder’s highlighted work: Beyonce’s “I Was Here” and Adele’s “Rumour Has It.”

Here’s a look at nominees in “The Big 5″ categories, as well as a dose of critical opinion.

Record Of The Year

Adele, “Rolling In The Deep”
Bon Iver, “Holocene”
Bruno Mars, “Grenade”
Mumford & Sons, “The Cave”
Katy Perry, “Firework”

Will win: Adele. This is her year, without question. Expect Adele to sweep all the major categories. It will be anti-climactic, sure, but “21” successfully propelled mass-appeal-pop-music to a level miles above Katy Perry or Gaga.

Should win: Adele. See above.

Album Of The Year

Adele, “21”
Foo Fighters, “Wasted Light”
Lady Gaga, “Born This Way”
Bruno Mars, “Doo-Whops & Hooligans”
Rihanna, “Loud”

Will win: Adele, again. Even if the other categories have room for debate, the final award of the night belongs to the Brit.

Should win: “Loud” is Rihanna’s best record to date, and in a non-Adele year, would have been a viable candidate for Album Of The Year. Still, Rihanna’s sex appeal and club beats simply can’t compete against Adele’s soulful chops.

Song Of The Year

Kanye West, “All Of The Lights”
Mumford & Sons, “The Cave”
Bruno Mars, “Grenade”
Bon Iver, “Holocene”
Adele, “Rolling In The Deep”

Will win: Adele. As if it wasn’t hard enough to escape the singer, herself, this particular song became a brand of its own with scores of covers both amateur and professional. And it was up and down the FM dial.

Should win: Adele, yawn. But Kanye should win his own award for “Hook Of The Year” for “Lights.”

Best New Artist

The Band Perry
Bon Iver
J. Cole
Nicki Minaj
Skrillex

Will win: The Band Perry. Country music has a way of dominating this category, if only because the Nashville songwriters look to protect one of the last remaining profitable sectors of the recording industry.

Should win: Nicki Minaj. From a musical standpoint, Minaj has all the eccentricity of Gaga with twice the innovation.

And, just for fun, here’s a look at 5 lesser-known categories:

Best Dance Recording

Deadmau5 & Greta Svabo Bech, “Raise Your Weapon”
Duck Sauce, “Barbra Streisand”
David Guetta & Avicii, “Sunshine”
Robyn, “Call Your Girlfriend”
Skrillex, “Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites”
Swedish House Mafia, “Save The World”

Will win: Robyn. Face it, most of the voting Academy members have never heard any of these songs.

Should win: Skrillex. “Scary Monsters” is not only the year’s best Dance Recording, but it has almost single-handedly kept the cult subgenre of dubstep from reaching a plateau.

Best Rap Performance

Chris Brown, Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes, “Look At Me Now”
Jay-Z & Kanye West, “Otis”
Lupe Fiasco, “The Show Goes On”
Nicki Minaj & Drake, “Moment 4 Life”
Wiz Khalifa, “Black And Yellow”

Will win: Wiz Khalifa. Kanye and Hov will take other categories, for sure, but voters will not want them to walk away with anymore gold than necessary. See the “Watch The Throne” album cover for further explanation.

Should win: With that said, “Otis” is one of the best hip-hop songs of the year, and the far-and-away standout of “Throne.” It should have been nominated for both Record and Song Of The Year.

Best Bluegrass Album

Alison Krauss & Union Station, “Paper Airplane”
Steve Martin And The Steep Canyon Rangers, “Rare Bird Alert”
The Del McCoury Band, “Old Memories: The Songs Of Bill Monroe”
Ralph Stanley, “A Mother’s Prayer”
Chris Thile & Michael Daves, “Sleep With One Eye Open”

Will win: Steve Martin. If only because everyone wants everyone else to know that they know that Steve Martin can play the banjo.

Should win: The Del McCoury Band. One legend covering the principal founder of the entire genre. Case closed.

Best Folk Album

The Civil Wars, “Barton Hollow”
Steve Earle, “I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive”
Fleet Foxes, “Helplessness Blues”
Eddie Vedder, “Ukulele Songs”
Gillian Welch, “The Harrow & The Harvest”

Will win: Eddie Vedder, but not for this album, for those who still love the “Into The Wild” soundtrack.

Should win: Fleet Foxes. Bearded flannel folk reached its apex long ago, but the fact remains that “Helplessness Blues” is one of the year’s most listenable records.

Best Comedy Album

“Weird Al” Yankovic, “Alpocalypse”
Patton Oswalt, “Finest Hour”
Louis C.K., “Hilarious”
Kathy Griffin, “Kathy Griffin: 50 & Not Pregnant”
The Lonely Island, “Turtleneck & Chain”

Will win: The Lonely Island. See Dance music category above. None of the voters have heard these albums, but they still watch “SNL.”

Should win: Patton Oswalt. One of the best comedians of the past 10 years, sharp as ever. From Twitter this morning: “Note on door this a.m.: ‘You’re going to EAT IT at The Grammys.’ On doorstep: bloody accordion. Real subtle, @alyankovic.”

Winners will be announced live during the CBS primetime broadcast on Feb. 12. Watch Reverb that week for comprehensive coverage of all things Grammys.

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John Hendrickson is the managing editor of Reverb and a multimedia journalist for The Denver Post. Follow his rants on music and more on Twitter.

  • “Band Mom”

    I’m curious why there was no mention of the Blues category?  Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks    ~ Tedeschi Trucks Band ~ released what, in my opinion, is, musically, the finest album released this year.  I’m ‘old’ (62) but I’m ‘hip’ to Adele, Bruno, Lady Gaga, Mumford, Foo Fighters, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj & on & on … and there is a lot of the contemporary music that I like & listen to.  However, it disappoints me that the ‘general public’ isn’t exposed to such  truly fine musicianship ~ an 11 piece ensemble ~ like the Tedeschi Trucks Band.  My feeling is that the Allman Brothers will slowly fade away & TTB will be the replacement and rightfully so.  
    If you’ve not listened to ‘Revelator’ or are not familiar w/ TTB … treat yourself!  Interesting that they are up against ‘family’ in Gregg Allman’s Low Country Blues (superb album but mostly covers) & Warren Haynes’ Man in Motion (personally, a disappointment).  Music is so subjective but I can’t be the only one that believes in soulful songwriting & singing, magical guitar playing & supporting musicians that make up this masterful & remarkable band.  I’m not sure but did you or anyone review their show at the Fillmore?  If not, why not?