Category: Best Rock Album, a.k.a. "Wait, Sheryl Crow is Rock?" Award (Crow has won twice since the Best Rock Album category was introduced in 1995. Sixteen years later, the category is still struggling to define itself.)
Jeff Beck - "Emotion & Commotion"
Muse - "The Resistance"
Pearl Jam - "Backspacer"
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - "Mojo"
Neil Young - "Le Noise"
Who Will Win: Muse's "The Resistance"
Who Should Win: "Le Noise." Neil Young has been nominated for Best Rock Album five times prior to this year's nod, and he's never took home the trophy. The stark and visceral "Le Noise" is Young's best album in decades, and it's about time Grammy voters rewarded him. But they won't.
Why: Grammy voters used to lean toward classic rockers in this category, as evidenced by wins for Rolling Stones ("Voodoo Lounge"), John Fogerty ("Blue Moon Swamp") and Santana (blech, "Supernatural") in the first six years of the Best Rock Album category. However, in the past decade, the category has been dominated by U2, Green Day, and Foo Fighters (three wins, the most in Best Rock Album's 15-year history). With that in mind, we can eliminate Tom Petty and Jeff Beck immediately. They're a distant fourth and fifth place.
Pearl Jam, like Neil Young, has been criminally shut out in the Best Rock Album in the past, but should Eddie Vedder and gang be rewarded with a Grammy for what's arguably Pearl Jam's least resonant album, "Backspacer"? Doubtful. "Voodoo Lounge" beat "Vs." in 1995, robbing Pearl Jam of their best and most deserving opportunity to win the award. So we're left with Neil Young and Muse. While music critics might be in Young's corner -- "Le Noise" more than edged "The Resistance" 80-72 on reviews site Metacritic -- Muse's LP seems to perfectly encapsulate the grandiose, arena rock sound that the Grammys have sided with in recent years, like Coldplay's "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends" to Green Day's "American Idiot." Plus, Muse has been asked to perform at the Grammys, so a Best Rock Album win seems all but certain.
Who Won Last Year: Green Day's "21st Century Breakdown"
Who Won Five, 10, 15 Years Ago: U2 ("How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb "); Foo Fighters ("There is Nothing Left to Lose"), Alanis Morissette ("Jagged Little Pill")
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- Pearl Jam