HITS’ Beer and Trakin Discuss the Pre-Nomination Favorites and Decide It’s Between Gretchen Wilson and Kanye West for Top Honors
It’s that time again. With Grammy nominations slated to be announced on Dec. 7, for the show on Feb. 13 at L.A.’s Staples Center, let the speculation begin.

Our two resident pundits discuss this year’s possible honorees, with Gretchen Wilson, Kanye West, Usher and Ray Charles emerging as favorites.

As Black-Eyed Peas, another possible nominee, might put it: “Let’s get it started.”

Trakin: Let's start with the obvious. Usher should clear his mantle for some awards this year. Another bittersweet evening for L.A. Reid.

Beer: Hmmm… Usher, he's big

Trakin: Big record, critical huzzahs, still selling. I hear song and album honors... "Yeah" was one of the year’s anthems, right?

Beer: Yeah, it is a definite on my Song of the Year list

Trakin: And now, Mrs. Ray Charles should also dust up a few choice spots in her household because it was the year of the "Genius." And he's dead, which helps.

Beer: Sadly, dead is often good in this cruel world… but never mind your Knicks.

Trakin: And, of course, the same people who’ve been voting for Norah Jones and Alicia Keys are still out there, allegedly, even if there's not much heat around either... though that could change, I guess, once the noms are announced Dec. 7.

Beer: Let's guess the song and album of the year first.

Trakin: Well, I may be prejudiced, but I think it comes down to Hoobastank's "The Reason" and the Maroon 5 track, but which one?

Beer: “This Love.” I am also guessing that it’ll be a Gretchen Wilson night. For Song of the Year, I’m looking Maroon 5, Hoobastank, Usher, Gretchen…

Trakin: Given the 'Stank will be announcing the nominations, "The Reason" will be up for something. The Gretchen Wilson thing could be huge, I agree... It seems to be an anthem in the red states.

Beer: OK, so we agree on four of the five songs?

Trakin: That sounds about right... What about Kanye West's "All Falls Down"? That has everything the Grammy voter loves, right? Maybe his "Jesus" song? That’s too controversial. Let’s hope Passion doesn’t get any nominations.

Beer: Alicia, Norah or Kanye for the fifth slot. OK… Now let's go to Best Album. Is Green Day a sleeper?

Trakin: Perhaps... but I wouldn't be surprised to see, and I know you don't wanna hear this, Brian Wilson's SMiLE in the album category. Total sentimental choice.

Beer: I'd be surprised, yes.... I like Usher, Norah, Kanye, Maroon and Ray Charles duets here... Am I forgetting anyone? Sleepers: Green Day and Hoobastank.

Trakin: Ray Charles duets, definitely. Let's talk Best New Artist. You already mentioned Gretchen Wilson. Maroon 5 should be a slam dunk as well... And I was also thinking Los Lonely Boys, Franz Ferdinand and maybe Hoobastank, given the recent modification of what qualifies as a new artist.

Beer: You feeling any buzz on Switchfoot?

Trakin: Don't they qualify in the Christian Rock category?

Beer: Definitely not klezmer…

Trakin: I wouldn't bet against John Mayer getting a possible nod in the Best Male Rock Vocal Performance category... Maybe even for "Daughters"….no?

Beer: He could become a Grammy staple… like Sheryl Crow and Lenny Kravitz.

Trakin: He's this generation's James Taylor... a perennial threat every year. Green Day is a definite threat in all the Rock categories. Also, how about Jet and “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?”

Beer: I love Jet.... Yellowcard, Hooba, Green Day are all dangerous in Rock categories.

Trakin: By the way, last year's Best New Artist nominees were Evanescence, 50 Cent, Fountains of Wayne, Heather Headley and Sean Paul... With Evanescence winning, which, as Todd points out, I correctly predicted.

Beer: Did I forget to mention Joss Stone? She is a contender for Best New Artist category, although I still think Gretchen takes home the Gold.

Trakin: So, Best New Artist: Gretchen Wilson, Jet, Los Lonely Boys, Franz Ferdinand, Joss Stone... They wouldn't nominate Ashlee Simpson would they, given the Milli Vanilli factor?

Beer: Those five are good choices. So, who gets the most noms overall on Dec. 7?

Trakin: My guess is it's between Usher and Kanye West. They fill a lot of different categories across the board—songwriting, production, duets, etc.

Beer: Usher and Gretchen…
Trakin: Will the "Redneck Woman" reign supreme come Grammy night?

Beer: Red states, rednecks.... it's that kinda year!!! But Kanye for Producer of the Year.

Trakin: There ya go... I mean, he could also be Best New Artist, for that matter... It could well be between between Kanye and Gretchen for most of the night's big honors. Maybe this time, the blue states will win. In the music world, that would make sense.

Beer: When and where are the Grammys?

Trakin: Feb. 13 at Staples. Sunday night.

Beer: Wonder if it's a doubleheader with the Clippers?

Trakin: So if you had to make up a day-after headline for this year's Grammys, what would it be? “Rapper and Redneck Go Head to Hat”...?

Beer: “Gretchen Wilson is a Woman”... THE END.

Trakin: Goodnight, Gracie and Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.