It’s that time of the year again for the Grammy Committee to prove how out of touch they are. The pattern for how they pick album of the year is as follows: Veteran that is selling exceptionally well at your local Starbucks; or, younger artist that is wholesome or has a story to “sell.” Just like all music awards shows, it’s about rewarding those that are bringing in the big sales numbers for the industry.

2003: Norah Jones 2004: Outkast 2005: Ray Charles 2006: U2 2007: Dixie Chicks 2008: Herbie Hancock 2009: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss 2010: Taylor Swift.

See the pattern? As you can see, they rarely go bold when picking a younger artist unless they have some story the Grammys can spin off. They love that shit. Take the Dixie Chicks in 2007 for instance. Coming off the controversy they faced for speaking out against President Bush and Iraq, it was more of a “thank you” for saying what was on a lot of people’s minds than a reward for album of the year. Taylor Swift in 2010 was basically named Album of the Year winner the day after Kanye interrupted her at the VMA’s. I mean honestly, who didn’t see that one coming? America’s sweetheart is attacked by the most hated pop star in America, let’s give her the ultimate speech time by having her get album of the year. And so, it’s really not surprising that the Grammys nominate an artist, and NOT the actual album itself. It’s not so much about the music as it is the story behind it and its marketability.

Who Will Win Album of the Year:

Given the nominations this year, this will be a year for a young artist to win. All signs point to Eminem. While he is certainly a controversial figure, he’s also a fascinating story that the Grammys can’t resist. After all, everyone loves a “comeback story.” Eminem, who was the biggest-selling artist of the 00’s, quickly fell from grace. Once considered the king of modern popular music, he was now seen as a joke. Encore was a disaster. As he battled addiction, and even contemplated suicide, his standing in pop culture was pretty much reduced to nothing. He then disappeared from the public eye for a couple of years, with the public only hearing a rumor or two. He finally came back with Relapse, an album that most hated (although it has a pretty big niche following now). However, his real come back came with this year’s Recovery.

Now completely cleaned up, his album thematically was about overcoming his drug addiction, personal strife and being a father. Eminem has come a long way from being that rapper that sang about raping and murdering his ex-girlfriend. Not only is he clean, he’s also an adult now (that has learned from his mistakes). Just consider the fact that in the early 00s, parents were appalled by how offensive his music was. People protested his music, and claimed he was poisoning the youth’s minds. This same man, is now seen as a star that battled his way back to the top, and everyone was happy to see him back. Not only is this a great story, but he pushed 700,000+ units in the albums first week of going on sale – an insane amount of CD’s in this day and age. Seeing as Taylor Swift can’t be nominated, Eminem is the biggest-selling artist to be nominated this year.

Who Should Win:

Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs is clearly the best album in the category of nominees. After having just a “good” follow up to their phenomenal debut Funeral, they came back in full force for their third album. A sprawling opus dedicated to the Suburban lifestyle in America, it’s also about feeling trapped in a modern world and the fear and excitement at the possibility of leaving it behind. It perfectly captures the fears that many people face today in hoping to not feel trapped in a mundane life. Musically it’s their send off to Americana, something the Grammys love (Bruce Springsteen anyone?). Considering they are critical darlings and even have a big following in Hollywood/the Industry, they would be the first alternative band to be able to win this, which not even the critically-adored Radiohead have managed. It would be more impressive if they do, seeing as they are still on an indie label.

The Lady GaGa Factor:

Don’t count the so called “queen of pop” out. Ever since her break out debut The Fame, she’s been heralded as the next Madonna. While she has won plenty of awards already, she has never been given her due. And while yes, artists usually have to put in a lot of time to get their due, GaGa has been one of the most dominating figures in the music industry in the past three years. Even in such a short time span, she’s reched that level (in the industry’s eyes).

I ultimately see Album of the Year being a fight between her and Eminem. Although I find it bizarre her Fame Monster was even nominated. Being 8 tracks long, it was sold alongside the re-released version of The Fame in 2009. I always saw it as a bonus disc, just another incentive to re-buy her first album. Some publications even list it as an EP.

Grammy Upset:

Lady Antebellum. You know you are all thinking this.

Who Was Missing:

Janelle Monáe….hello? Why wasn’t she included in the Best New Artist category? Justin Beiber and Drake (although awful) were obvious choices. But Monáe was not only critically praised, she is actually pretty friendly to the Grammys usual taste. This lack of nomination is one of the worst offenders. But thankfully she was nominated for Best Contemporary R&B Album.

Gorillaz being left out was also a disappointment. Although I would hardly have called them a shoe in, Albarn and Co. had weaved another spectacular opus. Fusing genres that on paper should have been a mess, yet making it work brilliantly. Damon Albarn is extremely underrated, and I would have liked to see him get a bit of recognition.

The Throwaway Nomination….

This has to be the most glaring “huh?” nomination this year. I mean, on paper it’s not that shocking. Katy Perry brings in the money. She’s had quite a handful of successful singles this year (play “Fireworks” one more time, and I’m ramming my head into the wall). But overall, her album was seen as a failure by many. Besides her singles, it felt messy, and just wasn’t that good. It was obvious they only focused on the hits portion, and not the album on the whole. I know the Grammys don’t really give a shit about the term: “album,” but could they try just a little harder to make us think they are a legitimate awards ceremony?

Not that I have anything against Perry, but I just can’t help but feel someone else could have been nominated in her place that actually deserved it (Gorillaz). There is no way Perry can actually win this category, so it’s basically a throwaway vote. But still, she just sticks out like a sore thumb in this awards ceremony. Especially when they already have a major pop star like Lady GaGa who does it much better. In comparison, Perry looks like Ke$ha.

The Kanye Conundrum

Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy barely missed the cut by having his album come out in November. Ineligible, this album can’t be nominated until the 2012 Grammys. What makes this interesting is that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was the one of the most critically acclaimed albums in over 15 years. Whether you agree with this or not, the album’s impact on the music industry from a critical stand point can’t be ignored. But will they? It’s pretty obvious the Grammy Committee doesn’t like Kanye. I mean, most people in America hate the guy. So it wouldn’t be that surprising if they just refused to nominate him for the next ten years.

Another reason this album’s chances are going to be hurt, is the fact that the Grammys next outing takes place in February of 2012. The jump from the November, 2010 release date to February, 2012 is a big one. Albums tend to do better the closer they are released to the awards show. Similar to the Oscars (hence why most movies seeking an award wait till the end of the year to release it). So will the music industry’s most critically-praised album in over a decade be left out in the cold? Well, it’s too early to tell now, but it certainly seems likely that they would pass this one up.

So while many critics have listed Kanye’s album as #1 album of the year for 2010, not only will it be missing from this year’s Grammys (their cut off date really is flawed) – it might even miss out on the 2012 bill. Lesson to be learned? Don’t be a jerk, and release your albums before the cut off date if you want to be recognized by the Grammys!

Conclusion:

Overall, the nominations aren’t too surprising. If there was any shocker, it was that Jerry Lee Lewis wasn’t nominated. They usually like to stick a veteran in the mix. But regardless, this is one of the years that a younger artist gets their time in the spotlight. Arcade Fire could surprise everyone and win as the Dark Horse. But everyone thought the same thing with Radiohead in 2009. If anything is to be expected from the Grammys, it’s to never get your hopes up. They have a high percentage of being disappointing.

Here is a list of the nominees:

Album of the Year

‘The Suburbs’ – Arcade Fire
‘Recovery’ – Eminem
‘Need You Now’ – Lady Antebellum
‘The Fame Monster’ – Lady Gaga
‘Teenage Dream’ – Katy Perry

Song of the Year

‘Beg, Steal or Borrow’ – Ray LaMontagne
‘Forget You’ – Cee-Lo
‘The House That Built Me’ – Miranda Lambert
‘Love the Way You Lie’ – Eminem Feat. Rihanna
‘Need You Now’ – Lady Antebellum

Best New Artist

Justin Bieber
Drake
Florence and the Machine
Mumford and Sons
Esperanza Spalding

Record of the Year

‘Nothing on You’ – B.o.B. Feat. Bruno Mars
‘Love the Way You Lie’ – Eminem Feat. Rihanna
‘Forget You’ – Cee-Lo
‘Empire State of Mind – Jay-Z Feat. Alicia Keys
‘Need You Now’ – Lady Antebellum

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance

‘King of Anything’ – Sara Bareilles
‘Halo (Live)’ – Beyoncé
‘Chasing Pirates’ – Norah Jones
‘Bad Romance’ – Lady Gaga
‘Teenage Dream’ – Katy Perry

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance

‘Haven’t Met You Yet’ – Michael Bublé
‘This is It’ – Michael Jackson
‘Whataya Want from Me’ – Adam Lambert
‘Just the Way You Are’ – Bruno Mars
‘Half of My Heart’ – John Mayer

Best Female Country Vocal Performance

‘Satisfied’ – Jewel
‘The House That Built Me’ – Miranda Lambert
‘Swingin” – LeAnn Rimes
‘Temporary Home’ – Carrie Underwood
‘I’d Love to Be Your Last’ – Gretchen Wilson

Best Pop Performance By a Group or Duo with Vocals

‘Don’t Stop Believin’ (Regionals Version)’ – ‘Glee’ cast
‘The Only Exception’ – Paramore
‘Babyfather’ – Sade
‘Hey, Soul Sister (Live)’ – Train

Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals

‘Airplanes, Part II’ – B.o.B., Eminem & Hayley Williams
‘Imagine’ – Herbie Hancock, Pink, India.Arie, Seal, Konono No 1, Jeff Beck & Oumou Sangare
‘If it Wasn’t for Bad’ – Elton John & Leon Russell
‘Telephone’ – Lady Gaga & Beyoncé
‘California Gurls’ – Katy Perry & Snoop Dogg

Best Pop Vocal Album

‘My World 2.0’ – Justin Bieber
‘I Dreamed a Dream’ – Susan Boyle
‘The Fame Monster’ – Lady Gaga
‘Battle Studies’ – John Mayer
‘Teenage Dream’ – Katy Perry

Best Country Song

‘The Breath You Take’ – George Strait
‘Free’ – Zac Brown Band
‘The House That Built Me’ – Miranda Lambert
‘I’d Love to Be Your Last’ – Gretchen Wilson
‘If I Die Young’ – The Band Perry
‘Need You Now’ – Lady Antebellum

Best Country Album

‘Up on the Ridge’ – Dierks Bentley
‘You Get What You Give’ – Zac Brown Band
‘The Guitar Song’ – Jamey Johnson
‘Need You Now’ – Lady Antebellum
‘Revolution’ – Miranda Lambert

Best Rock Song

‘Angry World’ – Neil Young
‘Little Lion Man’ – Mumford & Sons
‘Radioactive’ – Kings Of Leon
‘Resistance’ – Muse
‘Tighten Up’ – The Black Keys

Best Rock Album

‘Emotion & Commotion’ – Jeff Beck
‘The Resistance’ – Muse
‘Backspacer’ – Pearl Jam
‘Mojo’ – Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers
‘Le Noise’ – Neil Young

Best R&B Song

‘Bittersweet’ – Fantasia
‘Finding My Way Back’ – Jaheim
‘Second Chance’ – El DeBarge
‘Shine’ – John Legend & The Roots
‘Why Would You Stay’ – Kem

Best R&B Album

‘The Love & War Masterpeace’ – Raheem DeVaughn
‘Back To Me’ – Fantasia
‘Another Round’ – Jaheim
‘Wake Up!’ – John Legend & The Roots
‘Still Standing’ – Monica

Best Contemporary R&B Album

‘Graffiti’ – Chris Brown
‘Untitled’ – R. Kelly
‘Transition’ – Ryan Leslie
‘The ArchAndroid’ – Janelle Monáe
‘Raymond V Raymond’ – Usher

Best Rap Song

‘Empire State Of Mind – Jay-Z & Alicia Keys
‘Love the Way You Lie’ – Eminem & Rihanna
‘Not Afraid – Eminem
‘Nothin’ On You’ – B.o.B & Bruno Mars
‘On To The Next One’ -Jay-Z & Swizz Beatz

Best Rap Album

‘The Adventures of Bobby Ray’ – B.o.B
‘Thank Me Later’ – Drake
‘Recovery’ – Eminem
‘The Blueprint 3’ – Jay-Z
‘How I Got Over’ – The Roots

Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media

‘Crazy Heart’ – Various Artists
‘Glee: The Music, Volume 1’ – ‘Glee’ Cast
‘Treme’ – Various Artists
‘True Blood-Volume 2’ – Various Artists
‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ – Various Artists.

For a complete list of 2011 Grammy nominees, head over to their site.