51st annual Grammy Award predictions

Silvino Edward Diaz

Album of the Year

The Album of the Year award is the night’s highest honor – the music industry’s equivalent of Best Picture.

It recognizes the best collective work in music of the previous year (eligibility year is Oct. 1 through Sept. 30), awarding the artist(s), producer(s) and engineer(s) of the winning album.

Though the Academy’s grading scale is said to measure excellence in overall production, some more subjective factors also contribute to the committee’s decision.

All in all, the album considered by the Academy to most contribute to American music will likely win in this category.

The nominees are:

Coldplay -“Viva la Vida or “Death and All of His Friends”Lil’ Wayne – “Tha Carter III” Ne-Yo – “Year of the Gentleman”Radiohead – “In Rainbows” Robert Plant & Allison Krauss – “Raising Sand”

Predicted Winner: Radiohead – “In Rainbows”

If there’s one album that influenced American music on this list, it’s “In Rainbows.”

Upon its release, the band posted the album on its Web site and let the fans download it for whichever price they wanted – meaning, they could download it for free.

This is the unquestioned future of music. In less than a decade – unless some off-the-wall breakthrough in music copywriting emerges – all artists will give away their music for free, since it will no longer be profitable to sell it in physical copies, while online networking will become even swifter.

But all business aside, “In Rainbows” delivers from all possible angles.

Songwriting is as complex and versatile as one can expect to hear. It’s a subtle, seductive poetry interpreted through a collection of deeply personal melodies by lead vocalist Thom Yorke.

The prime factor that singles out “In Rainbows” as the top contender is a simple one: it stays true to its conceptual ambitions.

A concept album’s charm, most of the times, lies on the fact that all the songs will feature at least one common denominator while avoiding sounding repetitive. Two of the bests example of this are Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” and Café Tacuba’s “Sino.”

In any good concept album, the recurring themes will manage to quietly glide through the nooks and crannies of the album’s sound and only at times will they resurface to make themselves evident.

This is very difficult to pull off; often times concept albums tether along the extremes of either not being conceptual enough – and with no real unity among the tracks – or being too conceptual – meaning too repetitive.

“In Rainbows” stays balanced within the mean and quite gracefully, too.

Record of the Year

The Record of the Year award recognizes a diverse range of excellences which includes primarily mixing, engneering, and production.

The award celebrates the most complete and well-designed production.

The nominees are:

Adele – “Chasing Pavements”Coldplay – “Viva la Vida” Jason Mraz – “Im Yours” Leona Lewis – “Bleeding Love”M.I.A. – “Paper Planes”Robert Plant & Allison Krauss – “Please Read the Letter”

Predicted Winner: M.I.A. – “Paper Planes”

In all honestly, Robert Plant & Allison Krauss’ “Please Read the Letter” will most likely win in this category, being a much more complex production.

However, “Paper Planes,” off M.I.A.’s second album, “Kala,” is just as deserving of the prize.

For the first time in a while, a female vocalist is able to capture the incorrigible swagger that comes with lyricism while also exuding the delicate sensuality that is particular of any good songstress.

“Paper Planes,” thanks in part to the popularity of the film “Pineapple Express,” was the summer’s biggest hit.

The opening chords simply scream “club-banger,” and the chorus is as gangster as gangster gets.

All of this bodes very well with American mainstream.

For hip-hop, electronica and pop – all of which could be considered genres for this record – the song is considerably unconventional, considerably simple.

However, it is also considerably revolutionary.

“Paper Planes,” besides being a wonderful work in mixing and producing (by Switch and Diplo respectively), takes hip-hop beyond today’s club-electric tendencies and far beyond the typical 16-verse monotony of nearly every rapper in history.

It truly is deserving of recognition even if it doesn’t win the award.

Song of the Year

This award is given to the best songwriting composition. The Song of the Year award honors, more specifically, lyrical and musical excellence.

The nominees are:

Adele – “Chasing Pavements” Coldplay – “Viva la Vida” Estele – “American Boy” Jason Mraz – “I’m Yours” Sara Bareilles – “Love Song”

Predicted Winner: Sara Bareilles – “Love Song”

Songwriting is a tricky and complicated art. Good songwriting has both thoughtful lyrics as well as a relevant and harmonious range of melodies accompanying them – it’s another instrument altogether.

And Bareilles hits the spot dead-on in “Love Song.” This is exemplary songwriting – it’s near perfect.

In “Love Song,” Bareilles assembles an anti-love song, since throughout the record she states that she refuses to write a love song without any proper pretext – quite ingenious.

The song is simple yet brutally honest and heartfelt. Relying mainly on classical piano, the song is pretty much a standard pop composition (verse-chorus-verse-chorus-finale). But this by no means makes it less worthy; this is a pop song done right.

The song has universality, the same that made Amy Winehouse so successful last year and Norah Jones in 2003. It’s all about “listenability.”

Best New Artist

This award honors the artists who during the eligibility year releases the first recording that establishes the public identity of the artist.

The nominees are:

AdeleDuffyJazmine SullivanJonas BrothersLady Antebellum

Nobody had a bigger year in music than Nick, Kevin and Joe Jonas.

The release of their third studio album “A Little Bit Longer,” their film debut in Disney Channel’s original movie “Camp Rock,” and their upcoming TV series “J.O.N.A.S.” has made this teen trio from Wyckoff, N.J., the biggest boyband on the planet.

Their “family friendly” image of devout Evangelical Christian values has been a hit among American teens, not to mention their near-organic fashion sense – which has made them top eye-candy in Hollywood.

Predicted Winner: Jonas Brothers

The Jonas Brothers donated an estimated 10 percent of their ’07 earnings to charities that include the Change for Children foundation and also saw brother Joe in a high-profile relationship with country mega-star Taylor Swift (who has spent eight weeks atop the Billboard 200 list).

The band is a definite shoe-in for the award.

The 51st annual Grammy Awards will air this Sunday, Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. on CBS.

In addition to serving as a venue for the awards themselves, the Grammys also showcase a variety of top musical talent.

Some confirmed performers for this year’s event include Coldplay, Chris Brown, Lil’ Wayne, Radiohead, Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake, U2, Katy Perry, T.I., Jay-Z, Taylor Swift, Kid Rock and Jennifer Hudson, just to name a few.

An unlikely combination in the performance line-up is the coupling of the Foo Fighters with Paul McCartney.