And the Grammys will go to . . .

By Sean Daly
Published February 8, 2008

Say "Kanye West" eight times fast and you'll get the probable vibe of Sunday's 50th annual Grammys Awards. The deck is so stacked in favor of the Chicago rapper, who leads all artists with eight nominations, it's almost certain the "Louis Vuitton don" will leave with a fat load of loot.

It should also be a good night for British terror Amy Winehouse and the two women in Jay-Z's life: Beyonce and Rihanna. Handicapping the Grammys has never been easier, so my picks are no doubt perfect. Not that you should wager your co-worker. Well, maybe a burrito.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR NOMINEES: Foo Fighters, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace; Vince Gill, These Days; Herbie Hancock, River: The Joni Letters; Amy Winehouse, Back to Black; Kanye West, Graduation.

THE WINNER? Kanye West. With the exception of Winehouse, none of these performers will even come close to ruining West's night. Herbie Hancock? It's a fine album but . . . Herbie Hancock?! The Recording Academy uses a "peer-based" voting system made up of oldsters who long to be cool (they'll pick West) and youngsters who really are cool (they'll also pick West). Also important to remember: Graduation was one of last year's rare multiplatinum hits, and the spiraling music industry is desperate to remind you that people still buy music legally.

BEST NEW ARTIST NOMINEES: Feist, Ledisi, Paramore, Taylor Swift, Amy Winehouse.

THE WINNER? Amy Winehouse. This is a sublime assemblage of talent, especially the nods to indie-cool singer-songwriter Feist and soul belter Ledisi. But it will ultimately come down to country nymph Swift and Winehouse. Swift is a randier version of Carrie Underwood (which I totally approve of), but Winehouse's Back to Black album (new-school beats meet girl-group shuffle) is a nearmasterpiece. Winehouse's acceptance speech should be a doozy.

SONG OF THE YEAR NOMINEES: Before He Cheats (performed by Carrie Underwood); Hey There Delilah (Plain White T's); Like a Star (Corinne Bailey Rae); Rehab (Amy Winehouse); Umbrella (Rihanna).

THE WINNER? Umbrella. The absolutely incandescent Rihanna is scheduled to perform this silly-illy-illy smash on the awards show. So she'll already have that going for her. The Grammys like to spread the love around among young talent, so they probably won't go back to Winehouse. Underwood sells tons of albums, but she had her moment last year.

RECORD OF THE YEAR NOMINEES: Irreplaceable (performed by Beyonce); The Pretender (Foo Fighters); Umbrella (Rihanna); What Goes Around . . . Comes Around (Justin Timberlake); Rehab (Amy Winehouse).

THE WINNER? Irreplaceable. Whereas song of the year is for the songwriters, record of the year is for the artist and producer. The Grammys have a major crush on Beyonce, too: She's pretty, she's clean, she's a vavoomish ambassador for pop music. Having already acknowledged Winehouse and Rihanna, they'll give B some love. Besides, Irreplaceable was a monster.

BEST ROCK ALBUM NOMINEES: Daughtry, Daughtry; John Fogerty, Revival; Foo Fighters, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace; Bruce Springsteen, Magic; Wilco, Sky Blue Sky.

WINNER? Foo Fighters. The Grammys will probably screw this one up, but they kind of have to. The Foos are the only act in this category also up for album of the year, so do the math. If I were a member of the academy, however, I'd vote for the raw, rawkin' anger of Fogerty. He won't win, but he should.

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM NOMINEES: Dierks Bentley, Long Trip Alone; Vince Gill, These Days; Tim McGraw, Let It Go; Brad Paisley, 5th Gear; George Strait, It Just Comes Natural.

THE WINNER? Vince Gill. Again, Gill is the only nominee here also up for the big prize, so he's money in the bank. But the award should go to Paisley, whose ability to sing, write and pick the heck out of his guitar is a rare treat in modern country. On a final note, it's a crime that Miranda Lambert isn't on this list, but that's Grammy cluelessness for you. Oh well, at least they'll get it right with Kanye.

Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.



The Grammys

8 p.m. Sunday on WTSP-Ch. 10.