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Grammy countdown: Metallica, Coldplay and rock album front-runners

November 24, 2008 | 11:41 am

Nine days until Grammy nominees are announced.

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Grammy voters may be challenged when it comes to naming a best rock album at the 2009 ceremony, which is set for Feb. 8. The reason: Three-time winners of the best rock album Grammy, the Foo Fighters, will not have a release in contention this year.

How much does Grammy love the Dave Grohl-led band? The Foos will be performing at the Dec. 3 nomination announcement, so you can bet the act will get nominated for a single or two.

But the 2009 best rock album winner? That will be Metallica.

The act's "Death Magnetic" has been one of most successful rock albums of the year, and critics were on the positive side of the spectrum when it came to reviewing the album. Although it probably won't top many year-end lists, it was widely viewed as a significant leap forward from Metallica's 2003 "St. Anger," and the music biz loves comeback stories. Metallica already has seven Grammys to its name, but none for best rock album. Bold prediction that Pop & Hill will likely regret: That will change come 2009.

So who will join Metallica as the other four nominees in the category? Here are the best bets for best rock album:

Metallica's Death Magnetic"

Coldplay's "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends"

Kid Rock's "Rock N Roll Jesus"

Kings of Leon's "Only By the Night"

R.E.M.'s "Accelerate"

Reasoning: Kings of Leon's "Only By the Night" will be considered a breakout album for the group -- best reviewed, highest charting -- and it's the strongest record of the above crop. Plus, voters would be wise to bring in some new blood. R.E.M. will get rewarded for releasing its best album since 1996's "New Adventures in Hi-Fi," and Kid Rock will be rewarded for having one of the most surprisingly consistent sellers of 2008, as well as one of the biggest singles of the year. Coldplay, however, may get slotted for best alternative album, but that's a mistake. In the alternative field, Coldplay would lose to Radiohead's "In Rainbows," so it should get a push for best rock album. If not, see below.

Potential nominees:

The Eagles' "Long Road of Eden"

John Mayer's "Where the Light Is"

Neil Young's "Chrome Dreams II"

The Raconteurs' "Consolers of the Lonely"

My Morning Jacket's "Evil Urges"

Reasoning: The Eagles will rack up noms, but "Long Road Out of Eden" will likely get the country push. As for John Mayer, he shouldn't be nominated for a live album, but Grammy loves the man, and everything he touches gets a nom. "Chrome Dreams" is a fine record, but Young has been overlooked when it comes to the Grammys, and this probably won't be the record that gets him rewarded for past omissions. The Raconteurs and My Morning Jacket are long shots, and could get slotted in other categories as well. But this isn't the Raconteurs' best work, and "Evil Urges" dreadfully over-experiments.

Better alternative:

Local's H's "12 Angry Months." Pity Local H. The duo of guitarist-vocalist Scott Lucas and drummer Brian St. Clair is essentially forgotten, lazily categorized as "post-grunge." But "12 Angry Months" is an angry swirl of rock 'n' roll venom, full of scorching classic-rock solos, and thundering, unremitting rhythms. As relentless as "Death Magnetic" but more focused. So a concept record about being dumped is anything but new, but it's all in the details. For much of the album, you're on Lucas' side, especially when he's asking an ex who gets to keep which bars.

A sampling:

--Todd Martens

Photo: Metallica's James Hetfield. Credit: Associated Press

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