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100% perfect Grammy Award predictions: Top four races

February 13, 2011 |  2:10 pm

Grammy predictions are a dangerous thing. They attempt to crawl into the brains of notorious bohemians (members of the music industry) who exult in being contrarians. However, certain voting patterns have emerged over the years that help us to forecast what will happen when trophies are doled out tonight. My conclusion: an Eminem sweep and a Grammy breakthrough by Drake.


"The Suburbs," Arcade Fire
"Recovery," Eminem
"Need You Now," Lady Antebellum
"The Fame Monster," Lady Gaga
"Teenage Dream," Katy Perry

PREDICTION: "Recovery"
POSSIBLE SPOILER: "The Fame Monster"

Only three contenders have a prayer: Eminem, Lady Antebellum and Lady Gaga. Eminem has lost twice in the past ("The Marshall Mathers LP," "The Eminem Show"), but he'll finally triumph because his album has the most noble theme: rally from substance abuse.

Lady Gaga, let's be honest, deserves this, but her album is old news, unabashedly trashy and Grammys seem to have a secret gripe against her. Her "Bad Romance" was really the record of 2010, but it's not nominated there and Gaga wasn't even put up for best new artist in the past. The only way Lady Antebellum can win is if the trio also takes the categories for best record and song and then carry this along in a sweep.

"Nothing on You," B.o.B. featuring Bruno Mars
"Love the Way You Lie," Eminem featuring Rihanna
"… You," Cee-Lo Green
"Empire State of Mind," Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys
"Need You Now," Lady Antebellum

PREDICTION: "Love the Way You Lie"
POSSIBLE SPOILERS: "Need You Now" and "--- You"

Only one contender doesn't have a prayer: "Nothing on You." All other rivals have a real shot. I'm dismissing "Empire State of Mind" because there's a rap/R&B tune here that feels more important thanks to its message ("Love the Way You Lie") and another one that has the catchiest melody and naughtiest lyrics ("… You"). "… You" has a real shot because of who's voting: rascal members of the music industry who think naughty is nice. However, I may be under-estimating "Empire." Could regret this.

Many award pundits are betting on "Need You Now" because of the apples and orange theory of award prognostication: It's the one serious contender here (orange) in a basket of apples (rap/R&B). Often that's a smart theory to follow, but I believe "Love the Way You Lie" will take this as part of Eminem's sweep of the top three races (album, record and song). Also, it has appeal because of Rihanna's role, which is shockingly brave considering the lyrics she sings.

"Beg, Steal or Borrow," Ray LaMontagne
"… You," Cee-Lo Green
"The House That Built Me," Miranda Lambert
"Love the Way You Lie," Eminem Featuring Rihanna
"Need You Now," Lady Antebellum

PREDICTION: "Love the Way You Lie"
POSSIBLE SPOILERS: "… You" or "Need You Now"

This category goes to the songwriter -– as opposed to record, which goes to the recording artist. Usually, in order to win here, a song also needs to be up for record too (except for last  year, but that was a fluke). Only three tunes overlap both races: "… You," "Love the Way You Lie" and "Need You Now." Historically, one tune usually wins both races, but that trend hasn't applied so much recently (only four times in the last 10 years). I think it'll happen again, though, so that means "Love the Way You Lie" will prevail for all of the reasons I cite in my discussion of the record race.

Justin Bieber
Florence and the Machine
Mumford and Sons
Esperanza Spalding


Everybody's betting on Justin Bieber, but boy heartthrobs have never been embraced here, not the Jonas Brothers or Hanson, not even the Backstreet Boys, who were nominated for best album the same year they popped up in this category (1999). Bieber is such a huge phenom that he could possibly beat the odds, but I'm betting on someone else creating a precedent: Drake. No solo rap artist has ever triumphed here (one rap group, Arrested Development, won way back in 1992). Yes, he's a bit of a heartthrob type himself, but he has critical respectability that eludes the Bieb.

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences