Album of the Year:
Mariah Carey - The Emancipation of Mimi
Why she'll win: Even as her outfits become more revealing, she proves she can still sing and hit notes that allow her to communicate with dolphins.
Why she won't win: Alter-egos are for superheroes, not pop divas, and some voters were disappointed to discover "We Belong Together" is not a Pat Benatar cover.
Paul McCartney - Chaos and Creation in the Backyard
Why he'll win: It's his first solid record since Flaming Pie. And he's Paul McCartney, for cryin' out loud!
Why he won't win: After thirty years, voters still haven't forgiven him for "Silly Love Songs."
Gwen Stefani - Love, Angel, Music, Baby
Why she'll win: She's the decade's Madonna and Cyndi Lauper wrapped into one.
Why she won't win: She contributed two excrutiatingly obnoxious songs in the same year.
U2 - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
Why they'll win: The album lacks an anthem as bombastic as "Beautiful Day" ("Vertigo" rocks, but it's not really an anthem), but it's more solid from start to finish than All That You Can't Leave Behind.
Why they won't win: Voters fear a Bono diatribe-like acceptance speech.
Kanye West - Late Registration
Why he'll win: His rap exudes an air of sophistication, and the Grammy voters don't hate black people.
Why he won't win: Voters may have seen his sad attempt at free-styling during his Barbara Walters interview.
Record of the Year
Mariah Carey - "We Belong Together"
Why she'll win: The song ruled Billboard's Hot 100 for two months.
Why she won't win: Again, the disappointment over it not being a Pat Benatar cover
Gorillaz - "Feel Good, Inc."
Why they'll win: The song is an eclectic mix of pop, dance, and rap.
Why they won't win: Voters are weirded out by the bands anime personas and the song, though catchy, isn't as good as 2001's "Clint Eastwood."
Green Day - "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"
Why they'll win: The song is the biggest hit from the obsequiously lauded American Idiot and vied with The Killer's "Mr. Brightside" to be the most over-played song in five years.
Why they won't win: See reasons why they'll win.
Gwen Stefani - "Hollaback Girl"
Why she'll win: Her song taught adolescents to improve their spelling: "b-a-n-a-n-a, banana!"
Why she won't win: It could trigger a Toni Basil comeback ("Oh, Mickey, you're so fine . . .) and the lyrics are inane enough to include the spelling of "banana."
Kanye West - "Gold Digger"
Why he'll win: Cool lyrical delivery and features Jamie Foxx reprising his role as Ray Charles
Why he won't win: Grammy Commitee isn't confident their camera man can cut away quickly enough should he accuse someone of hating black people or should he make another attempt at his Barbara Walters free-style
Best New Artist (ie. The Artist We'll Forget Ever Existed in Two Years)
Why they'll win: "Somewhere Only We Know" is a great song and the title may prove portentous of the band's whereabouts in two years and because I've never heard of any of the other nominees ;)
Best Rock Album:
Rolling Stones - Bigger Bang
Why they'll win: Grammy voters like to award artists posthumously.
Why they won't win: With yet another mediocre album (one could argue they haven't had a good one since 1980 although 1989's Steel Wheels is good at times), they prove they should be shooting commercials for Fidelity retirement investments, not writing new songs.
Coldplay - X&Y
Why they'll win: No band combines lyrical cliche and ambiguity with emotionally stirring, atmospheric music better than they do.
Why they won't win: The album is solid but falls short of A Rush of Blood to the Head and the literal-minded voters insist birds can't fly at the speed of sound.
Foo Fighters - In Your Honor
Why they'll win: As someone who generally likes Foo Fighters, I still have no earthly idea.
Why they won't win: After making two alternative rock gems--the near-perfect Color and the Shape (1997) and There's Nothing Left to Lose (2000)--2002's One by One left some fans to wonder if Dave Grohl wasn't losing his touch; this double album--one disc of mostly noise- ridden, melody-starved songs, the other an acoustic disc with a few memorable tracks but mostly languid, somniferous tracks--does little to allay their fears.
U2 - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
See the "why's" and "why not's" for Album of the Year.
Neil Young - Prairie Wind
Why He'll Win: Young wrote the album after facing a life-threatening illness, creating some heartfelt, poignant tunes.
Why he won't win: The album doesn't particularly "rock." Of course, that didn't keep Jethro Tull from winning a Grammy for Best Heavy Metal Album.
Best Heavy Metal Album:
I wasn't aware they still had this category; however, I hear a heavy metal bands fossil exhibit is coming to The Smithsonian in June.