Stop The Presses!

The Rock Field

Stop The Presses!

Muse and Arcade Fire are both set to perform on the Grammy Awards telecast on Feb. 13. And those bands are the front-runners to win for Best Rock Album and Best Alternative Music Album, respectively.

Does that mean the producers who book the show know who's going to win? No. It just means that they strive to book the most compelling acts in each genre, and such acts often end up winning.

Muse and Arcade Fire will go head-to-head in one category: Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Muse is nominated for "Resistance." Arcade Fire is in the running with "Ready To Start."

"Resistance" is also nominated for Best Rock Song. "Ready To Start" isn't a finalist in that category. But you can't read that as a sign of weakness: "Ready To Start" wasn't entered in the Rock Song competition.

Let's take a closer look at the nominations in the rock and alternative fields.


Best Rock Album

Jeff Beck's Emotion & Commotion, Muse's The Resistance, Pearl Jam's Backspacer, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' Mojo, Neil Young's Le Noise

The likely winner: The Resistance. This album entered the chart at #3, which was a new high for the English trio. Besides, Beck, who is 66; Young, 65; and Petty, 60, may split the geezer vote.

None of these five artists has won in this category before.


Best Rock Song

The nominees: the Neil Young hit "Angry World" (written by Neil Young), the Mumford & Sons hit "Little Lion Man" (Mumford & Sons), the Kings of Leon hit "Radioactive (Kings of Leon), the Muse hit "Resistance" (the group's Matthew Bellamy), the Black Keys hit "Tighten Up" (the Black Keys)

The likely winner: "Little Lion Man." The Mumford & Sons song is the biggest hit of the bunch. Oddly, it was passed over for a nomination for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Kings Of Leon won in this category last year for "Use Somebody," but this year's entry didn't have the same impact.


Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance

The nominees: Eric Clapton's "Run Back To Your Side," John Mayer's "Crossroads," Paul McCartney's "Helter Skelter," Robert Plant's "Silver Rider," Neil Young's "Angry World"

The likely winner: "Crossroads." This would be Mayer's second win in this category in the past three years. He won two years ago with "Gravity." Clapton won for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance twice in the early 1990s for "Bad Love" and Unplugged.

"Helter Skelter" first appeared on the Beatles' so-called White Album in 1968. This version is from McCartney's album Good Evening New York City.


Best Rock Performance By A Duo or Group With Vocals

The nominees: Arcade Fire's "Ready To Start," Jeff Beck & Joss Stone's "I Put A Spell On You," The Black Keys' "Tighten Up," Kings of Leon's "Radioactive," Muse's "Resistance."

The likely winner: "Ready To Start." Arcade Fire's Album of the Year nomination makes them the front-runner here. But the competition is fierce. As the title song of the front-runner for Best Rock Album, Muse's "Resistance" is a top competitor. The Black Keys' "Tighten Up" is the top digital seller of this bunch. Kings Of Leon won this award the last two years, for "Sex On Fire" and "Use Somebody."

Grammy trivia: The Jeff Beck & Joss Stone entry is vying to become the first collaboration to win in this category since "Disorder In The House" by Warren Zevon & Bruce Springsteen, which won for 2003. Beck and Stone performed the song on Idol Gives Back.


Best Hard Rock Performance

The nominees: Alice In Chains' "A Looking In View," Ozzy Osbourne's "Let Me Hear You Scream," Soundgarden's "Black Rain," Stone Temple Pilots' "Between The Lines," Them Crooked Vultures' "New Fang."

The likely winner: "Let Me Hear You Scream." As the leader of Black Sabbath, Osbourne helped build the heavy metal/hard rock field in the early 1970s. He previously won for Best Metal Performance for 1993's "I Don't Want To Change The World." Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden won in this category in the mid 1990s with "Plush" and "Black Hole Sun," respectively.


Best Metal Performance

The nominees: Iron Maiden's "El Dorado," Korn's "Let The Guilt Go," Lamb Of God's "In Your Words," Megadeth's "Sudden Death," Slayer's "World Painted Blood"

The likely winner: "World Painted Blood." This would be Slayer's third win in this category. The band won for 2006's Eyes Of The Insane and 2007's Final Six. Korn won for 2002's Here To Stay.


Best Rock Instrumental Performance

The nominees: Jeff Beck's "Hammerhead," the Black Keys' "Black Mud," Los Lobos' "Do The Murray," Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds' "Kundalini Bonfire," Dweezil Zappa's "The Deathless Horsie"

The likely winner: "Hammerhead." Beck has won five times in this category, including last year for "A Day In The Life." Zappa won two years ago for "Peaches En Regalia." And don't count out the Black Keys. This would be an opportunity for voters to make sure the group doesn't go home empty-handed.

Three of these entries are from albums that are nominated for key awards. The Beck, Black Keys and Los Lobos albums are finalists for Best Rock Album, Best Alternative Music Album and Best Americana Album, respectively.

Grammy trivia: If Zappa wins again this year, he'll top his father, the late Frank Zappa, who won once in this category, for 1987's "Jazz From Hell."


Best Alternative Music Album

The nominees: Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, Band of Horses' Infinite Arms, the Black Keys' Brothers, Broken Bells' Broken Bells, Vampire Weekend's Contra

The likely winner: The Suburbs. The album has seemed like a sure-fire Grammy winner since it debuted at #1 in August.

None of these five artists has won in this category before.

To My Readers: If you missed my preview of the "Big Grammy Categories," here's a link. If you missed my pop preview, here's a link. Next up: the R&B field, followed by rap and country.


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