Predicting the winners of last year's major Grammy Awards categories was a cinch. All you had to do was say Adele six times fast. The soul-kissed Brit took album of the year, song of the year, record of the year, plus three more shiny trophies. She probably won the Lotto and Miss Universe on the way home, too.
The only reason my picks looked so savvy was because the Grammys adore a musical sensation with both critical and commercial clout, so they rode Adele buzz to their second-most-watched telecast ever. Some 39 million people tuned in to see the Rolling in the Deep belter as well as watch the makeshift wake for the late Whitney Houston.
This year's Grammys go down at 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS, broadcast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The problem for ratings? There's no buzz, no real drama, no draw. The good news? With Jack White, the Black Keys, Mumford & Sons, Frank Ocean and Fun. battling for album of the year — and performing as well — these Grammys should be the hippest, coolest in years.
So herewith, I'll take a crack at handicapping the major categories. But keep in mind that the Grammys are a showcase for current music first, and an awards show second. Some of the potentially awesome performance pairings include Elton John jamming with Ed Sheeran, Alicia Keys playing with Maroon 5, and Bruno Mars, Rihanna and Sting forming one heck of a trio.
That's good TV right there. And with the exception of the Golden Globes, the Grammys should once again be the most entertaining — and LOUDEST — awards show around.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: It's an all-dudes noms list, which is weird but not suspicious. This is killer stuff across the board. Jack White and the Black Keys are retro-rock monsters, but they might be too fringe to win. Frank Ocean's Channel Orange is a complex R&B album about bisexuality, but there weren't any big hits off it. This one comes down to Mumford & Sons' Babel vs. Fun.'s pop giant Some Nights. That's a tough call, but I'll go with the Brit boys in Mumford if only because they're exceptionally gifted players as well.
BEST NEW ARTIST: The Grammys like all their top nominees to go home with something, so Fun. is a slam-dunk no-brainer for the best new artist category, which also features Alabama Shakes, Hunter Hayes, the Lumineers and Ocean — all vying for second place.
BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM: Frank Ocean wins over Chris Brown. See how that works? Bank on it.
BEST COUNTRY ALBUM: Another toughie. For selfish reasons only, I'll take the incandescent Miranda Lambert and her Four the Record over Zac Brown Band's Uncaged.
RECORD OF THE YEAR & SONG OF THE YEAR: Because someone's going to ask, you can be the smart one to clue them in: Record of the year is for the artist and producer of a song; song of the year is for the songwriter of a song. Fun. is going to win both categories for its ubiquitous booming hit We Are Young. The equally everywhere Somebody That I Used to Know could give it trouble for record of the year, but I think Grammy voters are a little worried that Gotye (who?) could very well be a one-hit wonder. Fun. has the feel of a band with a bigger, better future — especially on the Grammys.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter and Instagram.