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

Grammy countdown: Album of the year


The field at a glance: Last year, Recording Academy voters played it safe, tapping an album per genre, and giving the win to Herbie Hancock over a more relevant release from Kanye West. This year, the category brought us some surprises.

Lil Wayne may have had the bestselling album of the year in "Tha Carter III," but he represents a harder, more explicit hip-hop sound than the Grammys usually embrace in its top category. Additionally, Radiohead's "In Rainbows" wasn't a sure thing. Yes, Radiohead has been nominated for the top prize in the past, but some wondered whether the band's pay-what-you-want release model would hurt its chances at such a pro-industry event, as it questions the standard practices of the music biz. It hasn't, and Grammy and Radiohead seem to be full-on pals in 2009, as the adventurous English rock band appears in Grammy ads and will perform at the awards.

As usual, the field still has some pop superstars (see Coldplay, Ne-Yo) and the token heritage act ('Raising Sand" from Robert Plant and Alison Krauss). But Recording Academy voters shied away from some of the more predictable releases in selecting its album of the year choices. For instance, heavy hitters such as Alicia Keys, Sheryl Crow and the Eagles were looked over in this field. Score one for Grammy.

So is there any way Plant & Krauss don't take this category?

Probably not. As has been noted quite a few times on Pop & Hiss, "Raising Sand" has all the right ingredients for an album of the year win. In one corner, there's Plant, who's long overdue for Grammy recognition (he has only two in his career), and in another, there's Krauss, who's one of Grammys' most beloved artists (she has 21 awards). Combined, the two should be unstoppable.

And the haunting country rock of "Raising Sand" is not just a critic's darling, either. The pair won last year for best pop collaboration with vocals for "Raising Sand" single "Gone Gone Gone," and they are performing on this year's telecast.

If there's someone who can sneak the award away from Plant & Krauss, the safe bet is on Coldplay. The band had the top-selling rock album of the year, and they bridge the generation gap. Orchestra-laden single "Viva la Vida" is adult-safe, and Coldplay's Chris Martin has hip-hop street cred (he collaborated with Kanye on last year's "Graduation" single "Homecoming").

Ne-Yo is a rising Grammy star, but bet on him in the single categories rather than album of the year. Radiohead deserves the win, but not a chance, and Lil Wayne is still too risky an artist for Grammy voters to embrace.

Tune into Pop & Hiss this Sunday for complete Grammy coverage, beginning with a live blog of the pre-show telecast at 1 p.m.

-- 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?

Photo (top left): Plant & Krauss / Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times
Photo (center): Radiohead / Los Angeles Times
Photo (top right): Lil Wayne / Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (6)

Lil Wayne deserves album of the year. Saying the Grammy's isnt ready for an "explicit hip-hop" artist isnt an excuse. Take a good listen to the album and you'll see that alot that he talks about isnt just commercial hip-hop, he talks about things that poeple have to deal with on a day to day basis. Things that blue collar America doesnt know about. He's a voice speaking for thousands of people across the country. He shouldnt have to conform to a mold in order to win a Grammy. The Grammy's should conform to the artists that deserve to be recognized. And Lil Wayne is def one of them.


I really like LIL WAYNE -and saw him in concert- and to me its not about the explicitness of his album more than its not that great... yes there are great moments on the album... but as a whole its not good.

Coldplay's album had a great first single... and I like moments on it, but its also overrated; and not great.

Plant and Krauss -in my mind- easily win the Grammy for best album...

I'm not as quick to say that the Album of the Year is as sure a thing as it's been made out to be.

While I agree that "Raising Sand" is the most likely of the bunch to be the winner, the Grammy voters may take a more interesting angle to this category after what happened last year with Herbie Hancock's upset.

The Grammy voters, at least in this category, might want the chance to present themselves as more relevent and willing to reward something a bit more boundary pushing. This could benefit Coldplay but some voters might view it as being relevent but safe at the same time. This mindset could really open up the playing field for both Lil' Wayne and Radiohead. Lil' Wayne artistic achievement with "Tha Carter III" along with it's commercial achievement might give it a good advantage with this vote.

But the Grammy's along with being relevent might want to give someone their due in this category and that's where Radiohead slides right in. The band themselves only have two Grammys in the Best Alternative Music Album category and they've already been nominated in this category twice before. Radiohead has managed to re-invent themselves with every release they have given us and even with it's unconventional "name-your-price" strategy, the album went on to sell over 3 million copies worldwide when released into stores.

The favorite is still "Raising Sand" by far, but anything is still possible.

Coldplay SHOULD take EVERY GRAMMY THEY ARE UP FOR! They deserve it because they are a great group of guys-hard working and devoted to their fans. They do lots of charity stuff and Chris Martin is hot too! Their album-Viva la Vida sounds like it just fell down from the heavens and I like how inclusive it is with other world musics! Anybody disagree with me?? We'll see come Sunday!

Radiohead deserve the win hands down. They made an near perfect album. They blow everyone else in the catagory away. That being said, they surely won't win. RS will win. Good album, not the best. I don't care what people say about how "real" he is, Weezy is still too R for the grammys, and he truly doesn't deserve it.

The commenter above is a whack job, clearly. "They do like. . .charity and stuff and OMG chris will you have my children?" That's what it's all about right?


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