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West has an excellent chance of walking away with Album of the Year when the 50th annual Grammy Awards are presented at Staples Center in February.
GREIN ON GRAMMYS
Veteran Awards Show Soothsayer Consults the Tea Leaves, Finds Kanye, Winehouse, Springsteen, Daughtry in the Lead
Two years ago, when U2 won the Grammy for Album of the Year for How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, Bono paid tribute in his acceptance speech to each of the losing nominees. To Kanye West, who had been a bridesmaid in the category two years in a row, he said, “Kanye, you’re next.”

Bono probably just meant it as a gracious, consoling remark, but it may very well turn out to have been prescient. West has an excellent chance of walking away with Album of the Year when the 50th annual Grammy Awards are presented at Staples Center in February. The rapper’s third album, Graduation, is one of three “sure things” to be in the running for Album of the Year when the nominations are announced on Thursday. The other two are Amy Winehouse’s critically lauded debut Back to Black and Daughtry’s eponymous debut album, which is the year’s top seller.

Bruce Springsteen has a good chance of snaring his third Album of the Year nomination with Magic. And there will be a fierce battle for the final slot on the ballot. Contenders include Maroon 5’s It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad, Avril Lavigne’s Best Damn Thing, Feist’s The Reminder, Paul McCartney’s Memory Almost Full, Norah Jones’ Not Too Late, Sugarland’s Enjoy the Ride and Timbaland’s Timbaland Presents Shock Value.

The Robert Plant/Alison Krauss collaboration Raising Sand is made-to-order for the Grammys, but it was released too late to qualify for this year’s ballot. Chart-topping albums by the Eagles and Alicia Keys were also released after the Sept. 30 cut-off date. But the lead singles from the Eagles and Keys albums, “How Long” and “No One,” respectively, are eligible for Record of the Year. They’re among the leading contenders, along with “Umbrella” by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z, “Good Life” by Kanye West featuring T-Pain, and Plain White T’s’ “Hey There Delilah.”

Singles or tracks with a good chance of stealing one of those spots include “Kiss Kiss” by Chris Brown featuring T-Pain, “The Way I Are” by Timbaland featuring Keri Hilson & D.O.E.; Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” Feist’s “1,2,3,4,” Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable,” Maroon 5’s “Makes Me Wonder,” Avril Lavigne’s “When You’re Gone” and Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls.” (West’s “Stronger” and “Apologize” by Timbaland featuring OneRepublic weren’t entered in the Record of the Year category, presumably so they wouldn’t siphon off votes from the artists’ other entries.)

Winehouse and Daughtry are also the front-runners for Best New Artist. Five acts—Feist, Plain White T’s, Sean Kingston, Colbie Caillat and Taylor Swift—will duke it out for the remaining three spots. Miley Cyrus and Elliot Yamin have an outside shot. Grammy trivia notes: Caillat’s father, Ken, won a Grammy for Album of the Year for co-producing Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. Cyrus’ father, Billy Ray, was nominated for Best New Artist in the year of “Achy Breaky Heart.”

Paul Grein writes the weekly Chart Watch blog for Yahoo.com. He has been forecasting and analyzing the Grammys longer than Alicia Keys has been alive.

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