A few weeks ago, I forecast the Grammy nominations in the "Big Four" categories—Album, Record and Song of the Year and Best New Artist. (If you missed it, here's a link.) Adele's 21 is the front-runner for Album of the Year. The other likely nominees are Paul Simon's So Beautiful Or So What, Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday, Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party and Lady Gaga's Born This Way.
While Album of the Year is the biggest award of the night, it's far from the only album award on the Grammy ballot. The Recording Academy gives 36 other album awards in genres ranging from gospel to reggae. In this piece, I handicap the album categories in various high-profile fields.
Best Pop Vocal Album
The academy can send this statuette off to the engravers today: Adele's 21 is certain to win this award. Paul Simon, who has been a Grammy favorite since 1968, will probably come in second with So Beautiful Or So What. Lady Gaga's Born This Way will also be nominated. Her EP The Fame Monster won in this category last year. Her debut album The Fame won as Best Electronic/Dance Album of 2009. The field will probably be rounded out by a pair of hit-laden albums, Rihanna's Loud and Bruno Mars' Doo-Wops & Hooligans.
Also possible: Elton John & Leon Russell's The Union, Britney Spears' Femme Fatale, Colbie Caillat's All Of You, Justin Bieber's My Worlds Acoustic, Christina Perri's Lovestrong., The Black Eyed Peas' The Beginning, Josh Groban's Illuminations, Duffy's Endlessly and the Various Artists albums Rave On Buddy Holly and Muppets: The Green Album.
Best Dance/Electronica Album
David Guetta's "Without You" (featuring Usher) has just become the French DJ's highest-charting hit on the Hot 100, surpassing his 2010 hit "Sexy Chick" (featuring Akon). That's bound to boost the chances of Guetta's Nothing But The Beat, the album that contains "Without You." The other likely nominees: Deadmau5's 4X4=12, Robyn's Body Talk Pt. 3, Skrillex's Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites and Benny Benassi's Electroman.
Also possible: RuPaul's Glamazon and the Various Artists album Mortal Kombat: Songs Inspired By The Warriors.
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Tony Bennett has won in this category an amazing 10 times. Duets II, which made headlines when it became the first #1 album of Bennett's 60-year career, will give the pop legend his 11th win here. Barbra Streisand, who has yet to win in this category, will be nominated with What Matters Most—Barbra Streisand Sings The Lyrics of Alan & Marilyn Bergman. Harry Connick Jr., who won here 10 years ago with Songs I Heard, will probably be back in the finals with In Concert On Broadway, which was tied to a PBS special. A pair of holiday albums will probably round out the field: Susan Boyle's The Gift and Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album.
Barbara Cook & Michael Feinstein's Cheek To Cheek is a worthy entry, but it will have to compete with solo albums by both stars: Cook's You Make Me Feel So Young and Feinstein's We Dreamed These Days. Also possible: Jackie Evancho's Dream With Me, Jack Jones' Love Ballad and Dionne Warwick's Only Trust Your Heart.
Best Rock Album
Foo Fighters won this award with three of their last four studio albums. That makes Wasting Light, which was their first #1 album, a sure nominee. Red Hot Chili Peppers won with their last album, Stadium Arcadium. They'll be back with I'm With You. R.E.M.'s recent announcement that they are disbanding will boost the chances of their final studio album, Collapse Into Now. The other likely nominees: Kid Rock's Born Free and Jeff Beck's Rock'n'Roll Party Honoring Les Paul.
Also possible: Green Day's Awesome As F**k, Kings Of Leon's Come Around Sundown, Wilco's The Whole Love, Elvis Costello's National Ransom, Robbie Robertson's How To Become Clairvoyant and My Chemical Romance's Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys.
Best Alternative Music Album
Foster The People's Torches is the album to beat. The album became a big hit thanks to its insanely catchy pop smash "Pumped Up Kicks." Radiohead, which won in this category with three of its last five studio albums, will probably be nominated for The King Of Limbs. The other likely nominees: Death Cab for Cutie's Codes And Keys, Bon Iver's Bon Iver and PJ Harvey's Let England Shake.
Also possible: The Orb & David Gilmour's Metallic Spheres, The Gorillaz's The Fall, Bright Eyes' The People's Key, My Morning Jacket's Circuital, Iron and Wine's Kiss Each Other Clean and Das Racist's Relax.
Best R&B Album
The Grammys had separate categories for R&B Album and Contemporary R&B Album for the past nine years. This year, as part of a major streamlining, the categories were combined. Beyonce won for Contemporary R&B Album with her first three albums. She'll be back in the running with her fourth album, 4. Her strongest challengers are Jill Scott's The Light Of The Sun and Chris Brown's F.A.M.E. A nomination for Brown's album would show that he has largely succeeded in rehabilitating his image after his 2009 assault of former girlfriend Rihanna. Jennifer Hudson, who won R&B Album for her eponymous 2008 debut album, will probably be back with her sophomore album, I Remember Me. Ne-Yo, who won Contemporary R&B Album for his 2007 smash Because Of You, has a good chance with Libra Scale.
Also possible: Marsha Ambrosius' Late Nights & Early Mornings, Kelly Rowland's Here I Am, Ronald Isley's Mr. I, Ledisi's Pieces Of Me, Miguel's All I Want Is You and Patti Austin's Sound Advice.
Best Rap Album
With her debut album Pink Friday, Nicki Minaj will become the first female solo artist to win in this category. (Lauryn Hill won here when she was part of the Fugees, but she was slotted in R&B at the time of her solo album The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill.) Lil Wayne, who won here three years ago for Tha Carter III, will be back with Tha Carter IV. Jay-Z and Kanye West, who are also past winners in this category, are likely to make the finals with their smash collabo, Watch The Throne. West will probably have a second album in the running: his solo release My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Lupe Fiasco's Lasers will probably round out this strong field.
Also possible: Wiz Khalifa's Rolling Papers, Beastie Boys' Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, Bad Meets Evil's Hell: The Sequel (Deluxe Edition), J. Cole's Cole World: The Sideline Story, Big Sean's Finally Famous and Tyler, The Creator's Goblin.
Best Country Album
Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party beat Taylor Swift's Speak Now for Album of the Year at the CMA Awards. He'll probably prevail here too. Swift won this award with her last album, Fearless. Lady Antebellum, which won this award last year with Need You Now, will be back in the finals with Own The Night. Blake Shelton became a household name this year thanks to his gig as a judge on The Voice, which should boost the chances of his chart-topping album, Red River Blue. Sugarland's The Incredible Machine will probably round out the field.
Also possible: Brad Paisley's This Is Country Music, Glen Campbell's Ghost On The Canvas, The Band Perry's The Band Perry, George Strait's Here For A Good Time, Eric Church's Chief, Sara Evans' Stronger, Keith Urban's Get Closer and LeAnn Rimes' Lady And Gentlemen.