Simply put, the Grammys are 27 fields and 100 categories of sometimes well-deserved, sometimes baffling recognition for every type of music imaginable: classical, folk, blues, gospel, salsa, rap, R&B, country, rock and pop. This year, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has recognized some trendier music, quite a change from its usual list. Add to that the Eminem factor and you've got one of the most controversial Grammys ever.
We've enlisted the help of 103.3 The Edge's Ted Shredd and Tom Ragan to help us get through some of the most talked-about nominees this year:
Album of the Year:
"Midnite Vultures," Beck
"The Marshall Mathers LP," Eminem
"Kid A," Radiohead
"You're the One," Paul Simon
"Two Against Nature," Steely Dan
Given the wide range of genres in this category, it seems to be the most perplexing to music fans. "The Grammys are certainly all over the board," said Ragan. "A lot of people wonder where it comes from. We were talking to the editor from Spin magazine (Alan Light) and he said that the Paul Simon pick was a strange one. He seemed to think the voting bloc (was composed) of older people, so they threw Paul Simon in. I say give it to Radiohead." Shredd agreed: "I think they're going to win it all."
Female Pop Vocal Performance:
"What A Girl Wants," Christina Aguilera
"I Try," Macy Gray
"Save Me," Aimee Mann
"Both Sides Now," Joni Mitchell
"Oops! -- I Did It Again," Britney Spears
Aguilera got a Grammy last year, but will the supposed Best New Artist curse effect her chances of winning this year? Or will the nominees she beat out last year (Spears and Gray) finally get an award? More than likely, Madonna will win for the critically and commercially successful "Music," though an award for "Save Me" would recognize the long-suffering singer/songwriters of today's music scene.
Best New Artist
"My personal favorite would be Papa Roach," said Shredd. "Brad Paisley did that weepy song that made all the country music fans cry in the car when they heard it. He can't be Best New Artist, I think he was actually a hazard." Shredd also thought Sisqo might win, considering his success at last year's MTV Video Music Awards.
Best R&B Album
"Nathan/Michael/Shawn/Wanya," Boyz II Men
"The Heat," Toni Braxton
"My Name Is Joe," Joe
"Who Is Jill Scott? Words & Sounds Vol. 1," Jill Scott
"Unleash the Dragon," Sisqo
Braxton's voice remains in top form, and she was a big winner at the American Music Awards, making her a fan favorite. Unlike Braxton, Boyz II Men are past their prime and, thanks to the "Thong Song," Sisqo may be seen more as a novelty act than a true R&B singer. D'Angelo and Scott are such remarkable talents they should both win.
Best Rap Album
"And Then There Was X," DMX
"Dr. Dre -- 2001," Dr. Dre
"The Marshall Mathers LP," Eminem
"Vol. 3 -- Life And Times Of S. Carter," Jay-Z
"Country Grammar," Nelly
The real question is whether the mentor (Dr. Dre) or the protege (Eminem) will win. Although Mathers said he did not "care about a Grammy" in his hit "The Real Slim Shady," "The Slim Shady LP" won two awards last year. However, the subject matter on "Slim Shady" was pale in comparison to his latest and certainly created less of an uproar. The NARAS could avoid all of this by rewarding Nelly's "Country Grammar." In addition to placing St. Louis on the popular music landscape, the album sold more than 5 million copies, according to Soundscan.
Record of the Year
"Say My Name," Destiny's Child
"I Try," Macy Gray
"Bye Bye Bye," 'N Sync
"Beautiful Day," U2
Depending on whether NARAS members cast their vote based on sound, talent or outstanding commercial success, any of the nominees could win. Shredd goes with Destiny's Child "because they're hot." Still, it looks like this might be U2's category, since their album "All That You Can't Leave Behind" wasn't eligible for this year's awards.
If the album were eligible, it probably would have found its way into the Best Alternative Music Album category. Sure, U2 doesn't really create alternative music, but neither does Paul McCartney. Yet his "Liverpool Sound Collage" found its way into this category. Said Shredd, "I don't even know what that is."
The real race should be between Fiona Apple's "When the Pawn," Beck's "Midnite Vultures," Cure's "Bloodflowers" and Radiohead's "Kid A." The Cure might be a sentimental favorite, since "Bloodflowers" is supposedly its last album, but this one belongs to Radiohead.
On the other side of the music spectrum is Best Hard Rock Performance. Kid Rock's "American Bad Ass" recycles a Metallica riff and Limp Bizkit's "Take a Look Around" expands on the original "Mission: Impossible" theme song, which leaves only three real nominees. Ragan noted he "liked the Stone Temple Pilots album ('No. 4'), but the song they were nominated for ('Down') wasn't one of my favorite songs." He thinks a win for Rage "would put a little pressure on the band. Wow, you win this great award right after your singer (Zack de la Rocha) leaves you -- but that's the kind of irony that happens."
Jennifer Lopez should win Best Dance Recording for the popular "Waiting for Tonight" remix, not "Let's Get Loud," the song she was nominated for. The Baha Men's "Who Let The Dogs Out," Enrique Iglesias' "Be With You" and Eiffel 65's "Blue (Da Be Dee)" become more annoying with each additional play, leaving Moby's "Natural Blues" the only true winner.
After looking at some of this year's nominees, you might be wondering where some of your favorite music stars are. According to the NARAS, recordings released between Oct. 1, 1999, and Sept. 30, 2000, are eligible to be nominated. That means Outkast's "Stankonia" and Backstreet Boys' "Black and Blue" came out too late to be included.
Still, that doesn't explain why "Kid A" received a nomination; the album was released after the deadline. In "Entertainment Weekly," Mike Greene, head of NARAS, said: "It's not when a record is in stores, it's the date of the first shipment from manufacturer to distributor for the purpose of sale." Translation: It's when the album is shipped to a store, not when people actually can buy it, that counts.
The Grammy Awards air Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. on Channel 4. For a complete list of nominees, visit www.grammy.com
Gabrielle Grubka is a freshman at Daemen College.