Will Bon Iver Be The Arcade Fire Of 2012? And Other Pre-Grammy Nomination Show Questions

D.L. Anderson
Aw, why so glum?
Tonight's Grammy nomination concert, airing at 10 p.m. on CBS, will not only jam-pack a bunch of performances by the likes of Lady Gaga and Jason Aldean into its 60 minutes, it'll also let us know which artists will be prostrating themselves in front of the globe and thanking their families and God during next February's awards ceremony. Sure, Adele not getting as many nominations as humanly possible for her much-beloved, best-selling 21 is probably the most shocking development that can transpire this evening, but there are other questions afoot, too. Will the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences allow Taylor Swift to look surprised again and nominate Speak Now for multiple awards? Will Kanye West get honored for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy a year after it was greeted by nearly across-the-board critical love? Will the ambition all over Lady Gaga's Born This Way pay off in nominations? And is Bon Iver, currently racking up the "Best Album Of 2011" laurels from the likes of Paste, slated to rep for "indie" next February a la the Arcade Fire this year? Nick Murray and I answer these questions, and offer our picks for the Big Four categories' nomination slates, below.

Maura Johnston: So Nick, tonight is the Grammy nomination special, although I assume you already have your DVR set. Want to engage in a little bit of nomination handicapping?

Nick Murray: Sounds good, though I have to admit I don't have any DVR to set. Let's just say that I already opened a browser window and typed "'Dirt Road anthem' + grammy nomination special" into the search bar.

Should we start the finisher? Or, 21 is a guaranteed Album of the Year lock and a clear favorite to win, right?

MJ: Not sure how many actual nominations are going to get announced during the show given that there are something like 10 performers scheduled for the evening, but I guess the producers wanted to save time, given that reading all the nominations means that the people on stage will have to say "Adele" and "Adele" and Adele" over and over again. And she won't even be there.

21 is definitely a lock for a lot of nominations. It sold a lot! It has gravitas! And a great backstory, as long as our heroine recovers from the throat condition that sidelined her from the AMAs and from tonight's festivities to give that story a tidy conclusion.

NM: What do you expect out of another numerically titled album, Beyonce's 4? Three years ago I Am... Sasha Fierce picked up eight nominations, and while the new one doesn't have "Single Ladies" to win Song of the Year, Best R&B Song, and Best Female R&B song, I imagine it's still going to do well, at least at this stage in the process.

MJ: I think it has a lot of potential (although this might be colored by my love of most of it) and could even take the crown from Adele if it gets nominated and is promoted correctly during the voting period. It's throwbacky and classy and a bit of a victory lap, and its credits contain a few Grammy-beloved names—Babyface, Diane Warren—alongside the likes of The-Dream, Frank Ocean, and (sigh) Ryan Tedder). And as far as songs, may I remind you of a little song called "Countdown," or at least "Love On Top"? Neither of them is eligible thanks to them coming out too late as singles, but they're still solid contributions to a great album.

NM: As much as I love "Countdown," and as much as just about everybody who's heard "Countdown" loves "Countdown," it still only peaked at 71 on the Hot 100. Radio has apparently been similarly ambivalent, and the song has only barely cracked the R&B/Hip-Hop top 40. Contrast that which "Single Ladies," which even made its way into the trailer for the Alvin & the Chipmunks reboot.

Who else do you expect big things from?

MJ: Lady Gaga, maybe.

NM: Of course, plus it never hurts to have her involved in any sort of awards show or public event. Will there be a rap LP in the Album of the Year final five? Usually we get one: Recovery last year, The E.N.D. (sort of) the year before, Tha Carter III in 2009, but on first glance this year's field doesn't have a clear frontrunner. You could go with Carter IV, but the even National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences must be able to hear the drop off between that and its predecessor. You had mentioned to me earlier that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy might a chance, and that would make sense, particularly since every record in Kanye West's College triptych got nominated in its respective year.

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