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Grammy countdown: A surprise record-of-the-year win for M.I.A.?

February 3, 2009 |  8:00 am

Grammy countdown: Record of the year

Record_of_the_year

The field at a glance: There's a slight overlap here with the song of the year category -- Adele and Coldplay are represented in both -- but the cut to talk about is M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes."

Before nominations were announced in early December, there was a growing belief that the gunshot-enhanced song from the worldly electronic artist may score a nomination or two. But being recognized in one of Grammy's top categories was still a surprise, considering the song's revolution-bent lyrics. Of course, being in a trailer for a major Hollywood film ("Pineapple Express") goes a long way toward softening M.I.A.'s edges.

Also recognized here is the smash "Bleeding Love" from the pleasantly uninteresting Leona Lewis, and "Please Read the Letter" from Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. The latter is from the album-of-the-year-nominated "Raising Sand" and will compete in the category against Coldplay's "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends."

M.I.A. has the buzz -- will she walk away with the trophy?

It's going to be tough.

The Grammys will certainly want to skew younger after the Herbie Hancock album-of-the-year win last year, and bestowing record of the year upon M.I.A. will help them win points. While Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" won the field last year, Winehouse was harder to ignore and one of 2007's most discussed music stories. M.I.A. is still largely a cult artist with a breakout hit.

Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" seems like the safe bet here, and Pop & Hiss has already written a post that has them winning album of the year. Adele does have a shot, but penciling in her heartbreak epic "Chasing Pavements" for best female pop vocal performance is probably more likely. Both songs flirt with orchestras, but Adele's does so more artfully, building with the anguish in her vocals.

"Bleeding Love" was one of the year's biggest hits, but without Lewis receiving many major nominations, don't expect her to snare a win in this category. A stronger pick is Plant & Krauss with the elegant "Please Read the Letter." It's a nice cut, and the album has a distinct feel, with its slight country undertones and its guitar buzzing in from another era.

So the win? Plant & Krauss, but if the latter wins album of the year, voters could award Coldplay here. Adele should win, and she's the sleeper pick, if the Grammys have such things as "sleeper picks."

-Todd Martens

Related: Grammy countdown: Why U2 shouldn't be performing
Related: Grammy countdown: Do the Jonas Brothers have best new artist locked up?
Related: Grammy countdown: Coldplay versus Mraz in best song race?

Related: Grammy countdown: Album of the year an easy one to call?

Photo (left): Adele / Jay Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
Photo (right): M.I.A. / Associated Press

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