All Grammys are not created equal. While 1,100 nominees are vying for 108 trophies, one contest trumps the rest for prestige, pizzazz and PR power.
Album of the year.
Music's most coveted prize, an anointing of artistic merit that can also reignite sales, brings five diverse candidates into a tight race decided by a notoriously illogical voting body.
The results will be revealed during the Grammy Awards, airing Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. The five albums in play are U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, Kanye West's Late Registration, Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi, Paul McCartney's Chaos and Creation in the Backyard and Gwen Stefani's Love Angel Music Baby.
They're listed in the order that Paul Grein, music writer and veteran Grammy prognosticator, believes the voters will rank them. The criteria? Popularity, artistry, sales, lovability, history and mysterious ephemera.
"I think U2 will win," says Grein, countering a consensus leaning West. "Three albums have a shot. Kanye is second, Mariah is third. I've got to believe U2 will take it. They're so respected, and they stand for the traditional pop-rock craft that has always done well in the Grammys going back 35 years."
The Emancipation of Mimi - Mariah Carey
Sales and Airplay: Mimi, the top-selling album of 2005, has sold 5.1 million copies since its release April 12. We Belong Together was the top national airplay song of 2005; Shake It Off was No. 6 and Don't Forget About Us was No. 38.
Critical Standing: Considered by most critics as more of a marketing success than an artistic triumph. Metacritic: 61. Rolling Stone: 2 1/2 stars. EW: B. USA TODAY: 3 1/2 stars. "The singer hasn't forsaken her passion for hip-hop. But it's the ballads and midtempo numbers that truly reflect the renewed confidence of a songbird who has taken her shots and kept on flying." - Elysa Gardner
Touring Boost: Carey managed to keep a high profile in 2005 without hitting the road.
Grammy Clout: Carey's up for seven other Grammys, including best record and song. She won best new artist and pop female vocal in 1991.
Grammy Tilt: "Mariah is strong, because she had the year's No. 1 album and nobody thought she could come back anywhere near this level," Grein says. "This is an unforgiving business, and once your name's a punchline, it's almost impossible to come back. But (modern) R&B isn't a favorite kind of music for a lot of Grammy voters. Traditional R&B is more respected. So a win would be a surprise."
I know everyone here at HBF hopes that Mimi proves USA Today and Paul Grein wrong by walking away with the much deserving Grammy for Album of the year!!
LINK: Album of the year: Who will win?