The loss to Steely Dan was highly controversial. Many believed that the veteran pop duo won in large part because Grammy voters couldn't bring themselves to give their top award to an artist whose raw lyrics made him a polarizing figure at the time. Since then, Eminem starred in a hit movie and even won an Oscar. He has shown resilience and staying power, which Grammy voters respect.OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, won Album of the Year. Rap is so central to pop culture at this point that even Grammy voters have gotten on board.
Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready To Make Nice" won for 2006. The Robert Plant/Alison Krauss collaboration "Please Read The Letter" won for 2008. This isn't just a coincidence: The Recording Academy has a strong country contingent.
Here's a closer look at the top categories.
Record of the Year
The nominees: B.o.B featuring Bruno Mars' "Nothin' On You," Eminem featuring Rihanna's "Love The Way You Lie," Cee Lo Green's "F*** You," Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' "Empire State Of Mind," Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now."
Grammy Trivia: This is the third nomination in this category for both Eminem and Jay-Z. Eminem was previously nominated for "Without Me" and "Lose Yourself." Jay-Z was previously cited for his featured roles on Beyonce's "Crazy In Love" and Rihanna's "Umbrella."
Album of the YearTaylor Swift's Fearless achieved this double feat last year. Previous double winners were Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard soundtrack (1993) and Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill (it won the Grammy for 1995 and was #1 for 1996).
The critically-lauded Arcade Fire would stand a better chance if the band had more pop radio presence (like U2 did the year it won for The Joshua Tree). Lady A would stand a better chance if the album had spawned a second crossover smash. Gaga's release (the first EP ever to be nominated for Album of the Year) would stand a better chance if it was a full-length album and not just a "bonus" disk.
Grammy Trivia: Eminem is only the second rap artist, following Kanye West, to receive three Album of the Year nominations as a principal artist. West scored with The College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation. Lil Wayne has also received three Album of the Year nominations, but he was the lead artist on only one of those albums (Tha Carter III). His other two nominations were for his featured roles on West's Graduation and Eminem's Recovery.
Lady Gaga was also nominated in this category last year with The Fame. She's the first artist to receive back-to-back Album of the Year nominations (as a principal artist) since Kanye West scored in 2004 and 2005.
Song of the Year
The nominees: "Beg Steal Or Borrow" (Ray LaMontagne), "F*** You" (Cee Lo Green with Brody Brown, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine and Bruno Mars), "The House That Built Me" (Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin), "Love The Way You Lie" (Eminem with Alexander Grant and Skylar Grey), "Need You Now" (Lady Antebellum with Josh Kear).Eagles classic from the '70s.
Grammy Trivia: This is Eminem's second nomination in this category. He was previously cited for co-writing "Lose Yourself." It's also the second nomination for Josh Kear, who was cited for co-writing the Carrie Underwood smash "Before He Cheats."
Best New ArtistNicki Minaj weren't nominated this year. Their first albums came out after the close of the eligibility year (Sept. 1, 2009 through Sept. 30, 2010).
Grammy Trivia: Drake, who was born in Toronto, would be the first Canadian to take Best New Artist.
The above four categories comprise the General Field, which is the first field on the ballot. Here are three other key categories that aren't confined to any one genre.
Producer of the Year
The nominees: Rob Cavallo, Danger Mouse, Dr. Luke, Redone, The Smeezingtons (Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine).
This is the fourth nomination in this category for both Cavallo (who won for 1998) and Danger Mouse (who has yet to win). It's the first nomination for all of the other finalists. Redone and Dr. Luke are also Album of the Year candidates for their work with Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, respectively.
Best Short Form Music Video
The nominees: Ain't No Grave/The Johnny Cash Project (Johnny Cash), Eminem featuring Rihanna's "Love The Way You Lie" (explicit version), Gorillaz, Mos Def and Bobby Womack's "Stylo," Cee-Lo Green's "F*** You," Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance."Madonna will probably carry her to a victory here. (Madonna won in this category for 1998's "Ray Of Light.") The Record and Song of the Year nominations for "Love The Way You Lie" and "F*** You" will help those videos' chances.
Grammy Trivia: Eminem won here for 2002's "Without Me." Cash won twice in this category, with 2003's "Hurt" and 2007's "God's Gonna Cut You Down." He's the only country artist ever to win for a video.
Best Long Form Music Video
The nominees: Blur's No Distance Left To Run, When You're Strange (The Doors), The Greatest Ears In Town: The Arif Mardin Story (Arif Mardin), Rush's Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage, the White Stripes' Under Great White Northern Lights.
To My Readers: Over the course of the next week, I'm going to take a close look at every single race in the following fields: Pop (including Dance and Traditional Pop), Rock (including Alternative Music), R&B, Rap and Country. I hope they help you win in your office Grammy pool.
- Arts & Entertainment