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The expected big showdown between Kanye West and Amy Winehouse fell by the wayside. Instead, we got a climax that was somewhat less thrilling and satisfying than the Super Bowl seven nights earlier.
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As Grammy prognosticators, our own Lenny Beer and Roy Trakin make great magazine editors. Both missed Herbie Hancock's stunning win for Album of ther Year. But then, so did everybody else.

And with that, the expected big showdown between Kanye West and Amy Winehouse in that ultimate category fell by the wayside. Instead, we got a climax that was somewhat less thrilling and satisfying than the Super Bowl seven nights earlier. But hey, maybe that's just us.

For the record, Hancock's River: The Joni Letters also won, less unexpectedly, for Best Contemporary Jazz Album.

All that being said, Lenny and Roy did get to the heart of the matter in their handicapping, touching on a number of issues that may have impacted the Album of the Year vote, while also indicating that Beer saw a Hancock win as a possibility::

Trakin: Now to Album of the Year. I’m going with Kanye, mainly because of the sympathy vote for his mom. I really feel this is his category to lose.
Beer: It is clearly between Kanye and Amy, although Herbie Hancock's album is brilliant.
Trakin: Kanye’s album had the best first week in sales… Seems like it’s his time this year. Otherwise, they run the risk of another tantrum.
Beer: A victory by any of those three is well deserved.
Trakin: Agreed... Just wonder what the Winehouse backlash factor will be. I think all that tabloid nonsense hurts her in these kinds of votes.
Beer: Tantrum or not, I'm feeling Winehouse by a hair. Also “Rehab” for Song of the Year.

Even without the biggest prize, it was a huge night for Winehouse—and another grinding disappointment for West. The English soul singer took three of the four major awards, as "Rehab" took Record and Song honors, and snagged Best New Artist. So Winehouse also won Best Female Pop Vocal and Best Pop Vocal Album.

Not only that, but Winehouse still did herself proud with her live performance via satellite from London, sounding in top form and appearing to be totally together. Just afterward came what was perhaps the evening's most touching moment, as Winehouse, still on camera, embraced her mom.

As for West, he took home four Grammys out of the eight for which he was nominated, or the six he could've won at most, considering he he was going against himself in two categories.

Foo Fighters took Rock Album, beating out a pair of inducted Hall of Famers in Bruce Springsteen and John Fogerty, as well what many consider the best American band of the last decade in Wilco. The fifth nominee was Daughtry. The Foos also scored with "The Pretender" in the Hard Rock category.

The White Stripes also hit a double, snagging Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for "Icky Thump" and Best Alternative Music Album for the album of the same name.

Bruce Springsteen, shut out of Album of the Year in a decision our own Lenny Beer derided as criminal, nevertheless earned three Grammy statues for Best Solo Rock Performance and Best Rock Song, both for “Radio Nowhere,” and Best Instrumental Rock Performance for "Once Upon a Time in the West," from an Ennio Morricone tribute album.

Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around...Comes Around" upset perennial Grammy faves John Mayer, Paul McCartney, Seal and Michael Buble in Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. He also won a Best Dance Recording award for "LoveStoned/I Think She Knows."

Shut out but sounding and looking good in their respective star turns were Feist, Fergie and Beyonce, who held her own alongside Tina Turner in a rousing perf of "Proud Mary."

In the early going, Beer's picks of Winehouse and The Boss were right on target, but neither he nor Trakin predicted wins for Timberlake, Maroon 5 or Robert Plant &Alison Krauss.

Maroon 5's "Makes Me Wonder" won  Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: Maroon 5’s “Makes Me Wonder” over Bon Jovi, Daughtry, Plain White T’s and U2.

Plant and Krauss, who are expected to be big contenders for top prizes again next year, earned Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for "Gone Gone Gone," beating, among others, Grammy regulars Tony Bennett and Christina Aguilera.

Carrie Underwood won Best Female Country Vocal for "Before He Cheats," which also earned a Best Country Song for writers Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins.

Other notable winners: in a possible harbinger of the 2008 election, Barack Obama beat a Clinton, this time Bill for Best Spoken Word Album; the Flight of the Conchords' The Distant Future for Best Comedy Album; the Eagles for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals; the Beastie Boys' The Mix-Up for Best Pop Instrumental Album and Mark Ronson, who parlayed his work on albums by Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse into a Producer of the Year nod.

Finally, Beer and Trakin did get one right: Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra won Best Polka Album for the 1,764,987 time. 

Here are some of the other early winners.  For a full list, click here. And see Rumor Mill for some additional takes.

Best Pop Intrumental Performance: Joni Mitchell, “One Week Last Summer”

Best Electronic Dance Album: The Chemical Brothers, We Are the Night

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: Michael Buble, Call Me Irresponsible

Best Male Country Vocal Performance: Keith Urban, “Stupid Boy”

Best Traditional Folk Album: Levon Helm, Dirt Farmer

Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album: Steve Earle, Washington Square Serenade

Best Score Soundtrack Album: Michael Giacchino, Ratatouille

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