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`Crazy' night?

A look at the nominees' chances in some of the top Grammy Award categories

February 07, 2007|TOM O'NEIL

Record of the year

Voters may go nuts for "Crazy" (Gnarls Barkley) and Danger Mouse, who's up for producer of the year, but it's not nominated for the songwriter's award. Those feisty Dixie Chicks ("Not Ready to Make Nice") have broad support -- they're the only music act up in all three top categories (record, song and album). Beware of a "Be Without You" upset -- it's the first time beloved Mary J. Blige has been nominated in a top race. "You're Beautiful" is a lovely ballad, but, to be truly blunt, James Blunt may be too pretty for squeamish academy guys to swoon over. "Put Your Records On" (Corinne Bailey Rae) is just happy to be in this lineup.

Song of the year

Years ago winners of this songwriting award usually matched record of the year (bestowed to recording artists), but they've split up in weird ways lately. Four nominees now overlap: "Be Without You," "Not Ready to Make Nice," "Put Your Records On" and "You're Beautiful." Either predict the tune you think will win best record, or opt for one with a "Big Message." Voters like that, so the country song "Jesus Take the Wheel" has a real chance too.

Album of the year

Step aside, Justin Timberlake ("FutureSex / LoveSounds") and John Mayer ("Continuum"), young studs will be embraced in other categories. This race often belongs to rebounding veterans, so front-runners are Dixie Chicks ("Taking the Long Way") and the never-before-nominated Red Hot Chili Peppers ("Stadium Arcadium"). Gnarls Barkley ("St. Elsewhere") can upset only if they win best record too, launching a sweep.

New artist

Can Carrie Underwood be the first "American Idol" champ to win Grammy's newcomer crown? Underwood hasn't crossed over successfully from the country charts. Blunt was the hot discovery of 2006, but solo men seldom triumph. VH1 darling Corinne Bailey Rae could prevail. Chris Brown and Imogen Heap are longshots.

Female pop vocal performance

Winner usually has a nomination for best pop album too. That's Christina Aguilera ("Ain't No Other Man"), but K.T. Tunstall ("Black Horse & the Cherry Tree") got saturation radio, VH1 and MTV play, and Sheryl Crow ("You Can Close Your Eyes") will receive huge sympathy support because of her battle with breast cancer. Pink ("Stupid Girls") and Natasha Bedingfield ("Unwritten") are bench warmers.

Male pop vocal performance

Winners are usually returning past champions like John Mayer ("Waiting on the World to Change"), who won in 2002 and 2004, or contenders like James Blunt ("You're Beautiful"), whose music is nominated in the top races for record and song of the year. Last year's best new artist winner, John Legend, could upset with catchy "Save Room." Strangely, Paul McCartney ("Jenny Wren") has never won, so why now? Daniel Powter may have a real "Bad Day" -- looks like a one-hit wonder.

Tom O'Neil writes the Gold Derby blog on TheEnvelope.com.

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