This year's Grammy Awards seem to be shaping up as the battle of the blond divas. In one corner — Beyonce, the fierce veteran who's already won a dozen Grammys but has yet to grasp the most prestigious Grammy honors — album and record of the year. She's up for those trophies and more, with a leading 10 nominations.
In the other corner — Taylor Swift, the relative newbie whose outstanding sales have made her the reigning queen of pop, despite her proud country tilt. Though she was nominated for best new artist, she also has the chance to become the Grammys' top artist this year, with eight nominations for her best-selling CD, "Fearless."
Yet something tells us these two power-hitters may end up knocking each other out, allowing some winners few anticipated. We'll see how it all goes on Sunday night, when CBS airs the Grammys live from Los Angeles in a show that will feature performances by Swift, Beyonce, Lady Gaga and more, plus a 3-D tribute to Michael Jackson. But here's how we've scripted the night:
Record of the Year
NOMINEES: "Halo," Beyonce; "I Gotta Feeling," The Black Eyed Peas; "Use Somebody," Kings Of Leon; "Poker Face," Lady Gaga; "You Belong With Me," Taylor Swift.
MOODY: "Halo" was a great anthem, but when you think of Beyonce songs that defined 2009, you think "Single Ladies" — and this ain't it. "I Gotta Feeling" is a better bet, but it's also probably one of the weakest Peas songs. Swift's "You Belong With Me" has more momentum, but it's likely she'll split the blonde Grammy vote with Lady Gaga and Beyonce, so the Kings of Leon benefit.
FEKADU: If Beyonce's "Single Ladies" had been nominated here, it would win. But it's nominated in the song of the year category — a songwriter's award, when it really deserves recognition for its production. That's the only song I could see competing with "Use Somebody," which will win here.
Album of the Year
NOMINEES: "I Am ... Sasha Fierce," Beyonce; "The E.N.D.," The Black Eyed Peas; "The Fame," Lady Gaga; "Big Whiskey And The Groogrux King," Dave Matthews Band; "Fearless," Taylor Swift.
FEKADU: I'm 23, I speak for the younger generation — and the only album in this category that's not on my iPod is the Dave Matthews Band. So I'm gonna guess the Grammy oldheads will go with them. Plus, it's also a sentimental one since the disc comes after the death of band member LeRoi Moore.
MOODY: So disrespectful, young man! And what's an iPod anyway? Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Swift had the year's most successful records and they truly provided the soundtrack to 2009. One of them would be the obvious choice — but the Grammys don't do obvious. Instead, Grammy voters tend to go for the veterans and the sentimental favorite — and that is the DMB.
Song of the Year
NOMINEES (songwriters): "Poker Face," Lady Gaga and RedOne; "Pretty Wings," Hod David and Musze; "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)," Thaddis Harrell, Beyonce Knowles, Terius Nash & Christopher Stewart; "Use Somebody," Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill and Nathan Followill; "You Belong With Me," Liz Rose and Taylor Swift.
MOODY: Until Beyonce stops writing with a team, she's not likely to win a song of the year nod, no matter how great the tune. "Poker Face" is too edgy for voters, and "Pretty Wings" too urban. While Swift has proven her songwriting mettle, the song is likely to be seen as too lighthearted. "Use Somebody" is both gritty and romantic, which will put it over the top.
FEKADU: It would be lovely to see Maxwell win his first (and overdue) Grammy in this category — but he won't, since he didn't write the song! Though "Pretty Wings" deserves this award, at the same time, how could the Recording Academy deny three kings (and their cousin)? "Use Somebody" will be crowned song of the year.
NOMINEES: Zac Brown Band, Keri Hilson, MGMT, Silversun Pickups, The Ting Tings.
FEKADU: Though she's talented, Keri Hilson didn't really show the world she was the brightest newcomer on her own. The likeness of the Silversun Pickups, the Ting Tings and MGMT would make you believe that none of the rockers will win. But though they are similar, MGMT has the most buzz. That leaves the trendy rockers versus the country mob. MGMT will prevail.
MOODY: Agreed that Keri Hilson won't win, but not because of her collaborations. Not sure I agree with the idea that MGMT has the most momentum. The Zac Brown Band has been getting lots of attention lately, and MGMT's buzz peaked sometime last year. Plus, MGMT, the Ting Tings and Silversun Pickups will split the hipster vote. So the Zac Brown Band is likely to win out.
Pop Vocal Album
NOMINEES: "The E.N.D.," The Black Eyed Peas; "Breakthrough," Colbie Caillat; "All I Ever Wanted," Kelly Clarkson; "The Fray," The Fray; "Funhouse," P!nk.
MOODY: If the Grammys gave the Black Eyed Peas a Grammy for "My Humps" — and they did — they're guaranteed to win in a year where they had two of the year's biggest hits. That's too bad for P!nk, whose artistry is often overlooked yet deserves to be richly rewarded.
FEKADU: And they also gave P!nk a Grammy for the lackluster "Trouble" in 2003, which means they'll reward the singer for her impeccable work on "Funhouse."
Contemporary R&B Album
NOMINEES: "I Am ... Sasha Fierce," Beyonce; "Intuition," Jamie Foxx; "The Introduction of Marcus Cooper," Pleasure P; "Ready," Trey Songz; "Thr33 Ringz," T-Pain.
MOODY: It's inexplicable to have only one great album going against a bunch of sub-par CDs, yet have fantastic works like Anthony Hamilton's "The Point of It All" in a separate R&B album category. Why can't the likes of Hamilton or India.Arie compete with the Beyonces of the R&B world? Of course, since they're not in this category, look for the standard Sasha Fierce win.
NOMINEES: "Universal Mind Control," Common; "Relapse," Eminem; "R.O.O.T.S.," Flo Rida; "The Ecstatic," Mos Def; "The Renaissance," Q-Tip.
FEKADU: While Q-Tip's album is the best from the list, and Mos Def follows, the others show that the Recording Academy is so far gone from where hip-hop really is. With that said, this award will probably go to Eminem since this was his "comeback" album. Plus, all of his CDs, excluding "Encore," won this award too — though those records were actually good.
MOODY: Hello, where have you been? Nas buried hip-hop like two years ago! Actually, it still has some life in it, but it's not represented here, especially with "Relapse," Eminem's worst album. But look for it to get a Grammy anyway; he owns this category.
NOMINEES: "The Foundation," Zac Brown Band; "Twang," George Strait; "Fearless," Taylor Swift; "Defying Gravity," Keith Urban; "Call Me Crazy," Lee Ann Womack.
MOODY: The Zac Brown Band, Womack, Strait and Urban have about as much chance as Kanye to win against Swift's "Fearless." Swift wins for her amazing year — and amazing album.
FEKADU: I don't think the Grammy voters want to break Swift's award-winning streak with her CD "Fearless." If they do, she might write a song about them too!