Like Dylan, John Fogerty is long overdue for a Grammy. Some of the songs in "Blue Moon Swamp" are slight, but the spirit of the album is marvelous. Aerosmith's "Nine Lives" has more punch than the Rolling Stones' "Bridges to Babylon," but neither feels like anything more than product. The Foo Fighters' "The Colour and the Shape," was a favorite of college and alternative rock radio, but lacks dimension. The standout is U2's "Pop," whose passion and craft were forgotten amid the disappointment of the Irish band's lackluster stadium tour.
Most Deserving: U2.
BEST R&B ALBUM
A strong field. Babyface's "The Day" and Mary J. Blige's "Share My Love" are worthy entries, so a victory by either would be no surprise. And Boyz II Men (nominated for "Evolution") and Whitney Houston ("The Preacher's Wife" soundtrack) have won Grammys before, so they could repeat. But "Baduizm" is the class of the field.
Most Deserving: Erykah Badu.
BEST RAP ALBUM
Another case where you could build an argument for any of the nominees. Puff Daddy (nominated for "No Way Out") is often dismissed by industry pros because he relies so much on sampling, but he certainly knows how to sculpt a hit. Wyclef Jean, of the Fugees, showed lots of musical class in "Wyclef Jean Presents the Carnival." The late Notorious B.I.G. and the Wu-Tang Clan reflect a sometimes absorbing street feel in their respective albums--"Life After Death" and "Wu-Tang Forever." But Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, above, delivered in her "Supa Dupa Fly" collection the was the freshest and most consistent work.
Most Deserving: Missy Elliott.
BEST COUNTRY ALBUM
There are wasted moments in Johnny Cash's "Unchained," but there is a spiritual-tinged intensity at the heart of the album that strikes a far deeper and more profound chord than anything else here. Cash has won eight Grammys, but nothing in the country field since 1970. After him, Alan Jackson's "Everything I Love" is the most appealing and (for those playing the sales system) the biggest seller. Also nominated: George Strait's "Carrying Your Love With Me," Patty Loveless' "Long Stretch of Lonesome" and Dwight Yoakam's "Under the Covers."
Most Deserving: Johnny Cash.