Sounding off on the Grammys

Who wins? India.Arie, Alicia Keys, U2? None of the above?

— Heading into this year's Grammy Awards, most of the focus has been on the new generation of female singer-songwriters � the streetwise yet elegant R&B; of Alicia Keys, the alternative soul of India.Arie and the eclectic pop of Nelly Furtado.

They have 17 nominations between them. Still, there's a good chance that the big winners on Grammy night will be four aging baby boomers. U2 has eight nominations and had a great 2001: the year's top-grossing concert tour, hit singles and three Grammys at last year's ceremony.

Then again, everyone thought Eminem would win best album last year � everyone but us, that is.

Here's how two Associated Press writers think things will shake out in key categories:

Album of the Year

� Nominees: "Love and Theft," Bob Dylan; "Acoustic Soul," India.Arie; "Stankonia," OutKast; "All That You Can't Leave Behind," U2; "O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack," various artists.

� Moody: India.Arie's debut is arguably the best disc. But she has a better chance of winning in the heavy metal category than here; voters will think the Grammys already did her a favor by nominating her. OutKast's "Stankonia," though deserving, seems more like an attempt by the Grammys to shed their "Granny" image. It will come down to Dylan and U2, with U2, hot off their well-received Super Bowl performance, taking it.

� Bauder: U2 is certainly the easy choice, and is admittedly deserving. If betting my own money, I'd put it on them. But don't discount "O Brother." It was a completely left-field success story that sold because of quality and word-of-mouth. Grammy voters can also tweak the creatively bankrupt country radio establishment by honoring it. Its victory will be the night's biggest surprise.

Record of the Year

� Nominees: "Video," India.Arie; "Fallin'," Alicia Keys; "Ms. Jackson," Outkast; "Drops of Jupiter," Train; "Walk On," U2.

� Moody: Keys is a lock; not only was this gorgeous ballad everywhere last year, it was the biggest hit of these five nominees. Besides, after Keys was shut out of the best album category, Grammy voters will want to make amends.

� Bauder: Ditto, although "Walk On" is a strong contender.

Song of the Year

� Nominees: "Drops of Jupiter," Charlie Colin, Rob Hotchkiss, Pat Monahan, Jimmy Stafford and Scott Underwood (Train); "Fallin'," Alicia Keys (Alicia Keys); "I'm Like a Bird," Nelly Furtado (Nelly Furtado); "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of," U2 (U2); "Video," India.Arie, Carlos "Six July" Broady and Shannon Sanders (India.Arie).

� Bauder: Just asking, but can anyone remember "Drops of Jupiter" five minutes after hearing it? Nelly Furtado and India.Arie are both exciting new talents, but I'd bet they have better work ahead of them. Keys will win this.

� Moody: Keys. If my wrong pick last year taught me anything, it's that Grammy voters almost always award this trophy to the winner of the best record category.

New Artist

� Nominees: Nelly Furtado, David Gray, India.Arie, Alicia Keys, Linkin Park.

� Moody: This category's less fun this year because, for once, all of the nominees are deserving (though few people probably know British crooner David Gray). Again, India.Arie is the strongest musically, but the battle will likely be between the year's best-selling acts: Linkin Park, Keys and Furtado. Grammy voters will choose Keys, appeasing critics and fans alike.

� Bauder: Who's David Gray, you ask? An awful lot of "Babylon" fans will beg to differ. In fact, a scenario where Keys, Furtado and India.Arie swipe votes from each other and Gray slips in is not far-fetched. Does that mean I'm brave enough to pick him? Nah. It's hard to vote against Alicia here.

Female Pop Vocal Performance

� Nominees: "I'm Like a Bird," Nelly Furtado; "There You'll Be," Faith Hill; "Someone To Call My Lover," Janet Jackson; "By Your Side," Sade; "Essence," Lucinda Williams.

� Bauder: Gotta love the diversity and quality in this category. I wouldn't mind the smoldering Williams stalking me, if she's in the mood she's in on "Essence." Don't think her profile is high enough to win here, though. My pick is Sade.

� Moody: Oooh, tough category. Janet Jackson could win here simply because she's never won in a major category, but there's good reason for that: The girl can't sing. A better bet will be Furtado for her cheerful, uplifting debut song. Still, Dave just might be right, especially given how well Sade did after a 10-year absence.

Male Pop Vocal Performance

� Nominees: "Fill Me In," Craig David; "You Rock My World," Michael Jackson; "I Want Love," Elton John; "Still," Brian McKnight; "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," James Taylor.

� Moody: Jackson may be among the most celebrated winners in Grammy history, but he hasn't won in a major category since 1985. Given the lackluster response to "You Rock My World," a win for him might seem far-fetched. But hey, this is Jacko we're talking about! Chances are slim that his struggling "Invincible" will get any big nominations next year, so look for voters to give Jackson a boost for his strong performance this time around.

� Bauder: Michael Jackson?!?! Is that a pity vote, Nekesa? James Taylor may be the comfortable, familiar choice for voters who don't want to think too hard, but "Fill Me In" was the best performance.

Pop Collaboration With Vocals

� Nominees: "Lady Marmalade," Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink; "New York State of Mind," Tony Bennett and Billy Joel; "Nobody Wants to be Lonely," Ricky Martin with Christina Aguilera; "My Kind of Girl," Brian McKnight and Justin Timberlake; "It Wasn't Me," Shaggy featuring Ricardo "RikRok" Ducent.

� Moody: Considering he was snubbed for record and song of the year, I'd say this might be voters' opportunity to award Shaggy for his blockbuster year and ubiquitous player's anthem. Plus, there's got to be some way to honor a song that managed to get the hilarious phrase "lovin' on the bathroom floor" on the radio.

� Bauder: "Lady Marmalade." What? You mean the award's not for best video? In that case, it's hard to vote against Bennett and Joel's sentimental favorite.

Rock Album

� Nominees: "Gold," Ryan Adams; "Just Push Play," Aerosmith; "Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea," PJ Harvey; "Hybrid Theory," Linkin Park; "All That You Can't Leave Behind," U2.

� Bauder: Nice that Ryan Adams got a nod here, but this is U2's in a walk.

� Moody: U2 takes it, though it might be close: After all, it's hard to believe Grammy voters can totally ignore Linkin Park, last year's best-selling act.

R&B; Album

� Nominees: "Aaliyah," Aaliyah; "No More Drama," Mary J. Blige; "Survivor," Destiny's Child; "Acoustic Soul," India.Arie; "Songs in A Minor," Alicia Keys.

� Moody: This group is noteworthy on two fronts: It shows just how much women dominated the R&B; scene this year, and it includes the posthumous entry from Aaliyah. This is no sympathy gesture; her disc was strong and showed her continuing evolution as an artist. But the sympathy vote, plus the fact that she had never won before, will be the overriding factor in her win.

� Bauder: Hard to argue with that logic. In fact, it's hard to argue against anyone in this category. My guess here is Keys.

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