The annual pastime that is predicting the Grammy Awards lost a little of its excitement after the 2010 ceremony. Don't worry, Taylor Swift supporters, this isn't a criticism of the country-pop artist winning the album of the year prize. With her latest effort, "Speak Now," Swift has affirmed her status as a likable artist with widespread commercial appeal. The voters who gifted Swift with top honors this year can breathe easy. Their anointed artist is not a teen pop fad.
Yet despite 109 categories, Grammy voters took a narrow focus for the 2010 awards. The top nominations were spread among very few artists, with Swift, Beyonce, Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas all earning repeat mentions. In fact, Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Swift had a combined 23 nods. Voters can point to the bevy of genre categories as an example of the awards' inclusiveness, but when it comes to anything that actually happens on network television, one didn't have to look beyond the top of the charts to make an accurate prediction.
The Grammys, of course, have always put popularity first. This is no shock, but compare the Grammys to the Academy Awards. Oscar earlier this year went with "The Hurt Locker," choosing an independent, low-budget war film over the 3-D blockbuster and technologically crowd-pleasing achievement that was "Avatar." You want adventure on the Grammys? How about jazz icon Herbie Hancock winning album of the year for reinterpreting Joni Mitchell songs?
Alas, when it comes to legitimate award shows, the Grammys are all music fans have. And the ol' Recording Academy voting bloc has occasionally served up something unexpected, such as M.I.A.'s receiving a record of the year nod for "Paper Planes," or Gnarls Barkley's snaring an album of the year nod for "St. Elsewhere." The glimmers of hope may be small, but they are reasons for optimism.
And thus, here are some of those reasons to tune into Wednesday's Grammy nominations, which will be unveiled live (tape delayed for us West Coasters) on CBS at 10 p.m. Pop & Hiss will have live coverage of the nomination concert beginning at 7 p.m. PST, and will provide instant analysis. The nomination concert, held in downtown Los Angeles at Club Nokia, is due to feature performances from Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Miranda Lambert, among others.