In the days leading up to Sunday's Grammy Awards, which Pop & Hiss will be covering live, this blog will tackle various Grammy artists, personalities, categories and just plain oddities. For even more Grammy info, check Awards Tracker and The Envelope.
A rundown of the races to watch during Sunday’s 53rd Grammy Awards. The ceremony from Staples Center will be broadcast on CBS at 8 p.m.
Album of the year
It's not unusual for hip-hop artists to earn a nomination for album of the year. Actually winning, however, is still a rarity. The favorite for this year's top prize is Eminem, whose "Recovery" was 2010's top-selling album. Once a magnet for controversy, Eminem on "Recovery" is more thoughtful and serious, with a darker, less hook-filled tone. This is, however, Eminem's third album of the year nod, having been bested before by Steely Dan and Norah Jones.
Such has been the fate for many a hip-hop artist, because Kanye West couldn't garner the votes to top Herbie Hancock, and Lil Wayne never had a shot against Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Yet Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" is too frivolous, even by Grammy standards, and Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" is pleasant but not the crossover force that was Taylor Swift's "Fearless." Forget Arcade Fire, whose adventurous concept album "The Suburbs" is significantly outgunned by the star power here. Lady Gaga's "The Fame Monster" spawned hit after hit, yet at only eight tracks was billed as an EP. That should clear the way for Eminem, who, seven albums into his career, is something of a seasoned old-timer, which is a trait Grammy voters love.
Record of the year (artist and producer)
Jay-Z has never won in one of the top Grammy categories; his pairing with Alicia Keys for "Empire State of Mind" is likely his best shot yet. The I-heart-N.Y. anthem has already been granted iconic status. Still, this award typically goes to something voters consider more serious, which likely spells doom for Cee Lo Green's "[Forget] You" and B.o.B.'s "Nothin' on You." Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" is the type of slow-moving pop song right in the Grammy voters' wheelhouse, and Eminem and Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie" found a way to turn themes of domestic abuse into a No. 1 single.