by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
When she wasn't dominating music charts, she was performing to thousands of 'little monsters' in sports arenas around the world, or making headlines in daily newspapers and blogsites for another ridiculous outfit worn, or inspiring the ensemble of Glee to unleash their inner GaGa in a gushing one-hour episode devoted to her. Yes, 2010 was a very good year for Lady GaGa, and when the Grammy nominations are revealed in two weeks, the cherry on the pop superstar's sundae will be extra sweet. She's expected to emerge as the leading nominee, possibly in the double digits, and trailing right behind will be country trio Lady Antebellum, hip-hop giant Eminem, and R&B-pop standout Rihanna. The nominations will be announced live on December 1 (10 p.m., CBS) by Katy Perry, Miranda Lambert, Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, and B.o.B. Here's what I foresee happening in the following top categories.
Album of the Year
Frontrunners: With just eight original songs, Lady GaGa's The Fame Monster may seem more like an EP than a full recording, and it included all the songs from 2008's The Fame, which has already been nominated. Still, she's too big to overlook. Lady Antebellum will snag the token country slot, which did wonders last year for Taylor Swift, for the trio's Need You Now - unfortunately, there isn't room for another album from this genre: a much better one, Miranda Lambert's Revolution. Eminem has been down this road before and he'll likely return with Recovery - Grammy voters like to believe they're cool by adding a hip-hop title in this category, but shamefully they've only crowned one as the actual winner (OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below). A deserving choice, and it's eligible because it arrived late in 2009, is Rihanna's Rated R, and it would represent both the pop and R&B fields. And it would seen unnatural for AOTY to exclude a rock act, and old-timer Eric Clapton is beloved amongst his fellow peers, so it's probable that he'll nab the fifth spot for Clapton.
Possible spoilers: Among the possible surprises, Sade's Soldier of Love has potential, as does Drake's Thank Me Later, Norah Jones' The Fall, Erykah Badu's New Amerykah Part 2: Return of the Ankh, John Legend and The Roots' Wake Up!, and if we're counting miracles, then include Arcade Fire's The Suburbs. The late great Solomon Burke could score a posthumous nod - Grammy voters love the deceased (Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, Luther Vandross). If we should be so unlucky, either of these could sneak in: John Mayer's Battle Studies, Michael Buble's Crazy Love, and the pairing of veteran folk-pop artists James Taylor and Carole King for Live at the Troubadour.
Record of the Year
Frontrunners: The battle of the ladies continues, with GaGa's 'Bad Romance' going up against Antebellum's 'Need You Now' (single). 'Love the Way You Lie,' the collaborative effort of Eminem and Rihanna, is almost assured a spot. Speaking of collaborations, Lady GaGa and Beyoncé are in the running for 'Telephone,' while Jay-Z and Alicia Keys compete strongly with 'Empire State of Mind,' as do Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg with 'California Gurls.' Ke$ha is a threat with 'Tik Tok,' so is Drake for 'Find Your Love' and Rihanna's 'Rude Boy.' And 2006 ROTY nominee Gorillaz shouldn't be counted out with 'Stylo,' featuring soul legend Bobby Womack and hip-hop maverick Mos Def.
Possible spoilers: Miranda Lambert has a shot with 'White Liar' or 'The House That Built Me,' while perennial Grammy favorites Usher and will.i.am contend with 'OMG.' Hayley Williams and B.o.B., who were up for multiple MTV VMAs, could take that momentum to the Staples Center, while other possible nominees include Sade's 'Soldier of Love' (single), Brad Paisley's 'Water,' Katy Perry's 'Teenage Dream,' and a total dark horse, Florence + the Machine's 'Dog Days are Over.'
Song of the Year
Frontrunners: Expect at least three of the ROTY nominees to make the cut here as well, most likely 'Bad Romance,' 'Need You Now,' and 'Empire State of Mind.' This is Lambert's best chance for a major nod with 'The House That Built Me,' and remember that she is one of the artists selected to announce the nominations. Sade competes with 'Soldier of Love,' her strongest entry since 1992's 'No Ordinary Love.' Oscar winners Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett are also contenders for 'The Weary Kind' from the movie Crazy Heart.
Possible spoilers: 'Rude Boy' and 'Teenage Dream' have serious outside chances, while Arcade Fire and Mumford & Sons are long shots with 'Ready to Start' and 'The Cave,' respectively.
Best New Artist
Frontrunners: Teen bubblegum star Justin Bieber is pretty much a lock, since being personally invited by The Recording Academy to assist with the nominations announcement. He'll probably be joined by Ke$ha, who certainly made a dent commercially with her first album. Florence + the Machine are a solid favorite. A new rule allows previously nominated artists to be on the ballot, thus giving Drake top potential. Susan Boyle could ride her Cinderella success story all the way to Staples Center, but a more credible act from overseas might steal her spot (Mumford & Sons). And even though Vampire Weekend broke through two years ago, they haven't quite caught Grammy voters' attention yet - so just as a similar act Silversun Pickups did in 2009, they could earn a nod on their second go-'round.
Possible spoilers: Cage the Elephant, much like Paramore several years back, might provide a shock with a mention here, as could electronic duo Crystal Castles. Formerly based in Seattle, Band of Horses are on the ballot along with R&B-pop upstarts Nicki Minaj, Bruno Mars, and B.o.B. Jazz newbie Spencer Day might appear out of nowhere, though a more confident representative from the jazz field is Eli 'Paperboy' Reed. A big long shot is Neon Indian.
Female Pop Vocal
Frontrunners: Lady GaGa is a shoo-in with 'Bad Romance,' as are Katy Perry for 'Teenage Dream' and Pink for her live version of 'Glitter in the Air.' Rihanna should get in for 'Rude Boy,' and a sentimental yet credible choice is Corinne Bailey Rae for 'I'll Do It All Again.' Sheryl Crow, no stranger to this category, is a favorite for 'Summer Day,' and another former winner Sarah McLachlan is a contender with 'Loving You is Easy.' And the legendary Carole King is in the mix with 'So Far Away.'
Possible spoilers: Sara Bareilles can crash the party with 'King of Anything,' Beyoncé - on name status alone - might be included for a so-so version of 'Fever,' and Norah Jones is worthy for 'Chasing Pirates.' Another previous Female Pop Vocal champ, kd lang, is in the running for her gorgeous rendition of 'Hallelujah.' And never count Christina Aguilera out, as she vies again for the gold with 'You Lost Me.'
Alternative Music Album
Frontrunners: This is Arcade Fire's year, finally. The Montreal-anchored ensemble doesn't have to contend with Radiohead, Beck, or any other major act this time around, so they are the ones to beat - The Suburbs is one of 2010's best-reviewed albums. But look out for M.I.A., who has never won a Grammy and is considered an innovator in the electronic-rap scene. Vampire Weekend's Contra and The Black Keys' Brothers are two solid recordings worthy of a nomination, but so are MGMT's Congratulations, Gorillaz's Plastic Beach, LCD Soundsystem's This is Happening, and Sufjan Stevens' The Age of Adz.
Possible spoilers: If anyone should disrupt the pack, it's Jonsi for his solo effort Go. Elsewhere, The National got heavy buzz for High Violet, as did Broken Bells (Danger Mouse, James Mercer of The Shins) for their self-titled debut. And a wildcard is Florence + the Machine for her well-received album, Lungs.
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