"We knew they were going
to be crowning a new R&B diva today," O'Neil says, "but we didn't know that it
was going to be India Arie! We thought it would be Alicia Keys. It's not that
Alicia was snubbed she got six nominations in top categories but
she was upstaged."
Arie received seven nominations, including one for top
album, a category in which Keys was absent. "I would have thought that was pretty
much a lock," Grein says. But whether Arie's nominations will translate into
awards hardware is another question. Here's a look at projected winners for
some of the key categories, based on opinions from O'Neil, Grein and USA TODAY
music writers. Artists are ranked from most likely to least likely to win.
Alicia Keys: Despite Arie's sudden ascendance, Keys should easily
triumph. "I think for six months, it's been a foregone conclusion that Alicia
would win," Grein says.
Linkin Park: Hard rock is not a Grammy voter preference, but the
group had the year's best-selling album. And if Keys and Arie split the R&B
diva vote, Linkin could log an upset.
David Gray: Veteran singer/songwriter is the type voters
respond to (see Shelby Lynne, last year's new-artist winner).
India Arie: "If voters think there's this hot new artist,
that means India could win," O'Neil says.
Nelly Furtado: A worthy nominee, but in this company, she
might as well turn off the light.
Pop duo or group vocal
U2, Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of: Grein
is a little surprised that U2 did so well, with eight total nominations, but
the band of the moment appears to be a lock to win this and several more.
Five for Fighting, Superman: Popular hit but an anonymous
artist. Distant shot at an upset.
R.E.M., Imitation of Life: As opposed to well-loved artist
but a non-hit. Won't unseat U2.
'N Sync, Gone: Strong vocal performance, but boy bands'
Grammy moment is over.
Backstreet Boys, Shape of My Heart: Chances pale
even in comparison with 'N Sync.
R&B female vocal
Alicia Keys, Fallin': Keys' overall momentum should
win this fiercely competitive category.
Aaliyah, Rock the Boat: The late singer's best shot for
Mary J. Blige, Family Affair: Inescapable hit just as votes
are cast; could take over.
India Arie, Video: Surprise buzz may work for her here.
Jill Scott, A Long Walk: Probably more appreciated by aficionados
than Arie, but less well known to pop voters.
Blu Cantrell: Hit 'Em Up Style: Smash hit could
win in a less formidable field.
Outkast, Stankonia: Should win in its "home" category.
Jay-Z, The Blueprint: "A classic," says USA TODAY's
Steve Jones, but less widespread acclaim than Outkast has earned.
Eve, Scorpion: Unlikely to knock off the top two contenders.
Ja Rule, Pain Is Love: Not ready to rule just yet.
Ludacris: Back for the First Time: Maybe when he comes
back for the second or third time.
Timeless: Hank Williams Tribute: USA TODAY country
reporter Brian Mansfield feels this is a sure shot, what with all the rock artists
paying homage to a country great.
Tim McGraw, Set This Circus Down: A huge country hit, but
not likely to derail the Hank Williams juggernaut.
Trisha Yearwood, Inside Out: A longtime Grammy favorite,
but not in this race.
Diamond Rio, One More Day: A strong title track (both a
Dale Earnhardt and Sept. 11 anthem) won't be enough to deliver an album trophy.
Willie Nelson, Rainbow Connection: Children's album that
apparently sneaked in on Willie's rep.