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Who's Headed For A Big Grammy Night This Year?

Of the Oakland Press

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The Grammy Awards turn 50 Sunday (Feb. 10), but one thing hasn't changed over all those years -- trying to figure out who's going to win before the first envelope is opened.

It's an inexact science, of course. The Grammys don't always follow sales figures, like the Billboard Music Awards, or pure popularity like the American Music Awards. The voting body, comprised of the Recording Academy's music industry professionals, ostensibly judges on artistic merit (though other assorted loyalties creep in), which can lead to some interesting -- and even puzzling -- selections.

Throwing caution to the wind, then, here's a survey of this year's leading nominees and what kind of nights they're likely to have:

Kanye West: His tantrum over a less-than-expected MTV Video Music Awards notwithstanding, West -- whose mother died shortly before final Grammy voting got under way -- will be the Grammy equivalent of "Lord of the Rings," earning substantial honors for a trio of fine hip-hop albums during the past four years rather than merely his 2007 achievements.

Amy Winehouse: The British chanteuse's drugged-out drama at home all played out while ballots were in voters' hands, which likely damaged her chances even though she's nominated in all four major categories.

Rihanna: Her "Umbrella" stayed open for a good long while, making it the odds-on favorite for Song of the Year.

Foo Fighters: Dave Grohl's cred-heavy group may get knocked out in the major categories, but it will display plenty of punch in the rock field.

The White Stripes: The Detroit-bred duo has established a niche as Grammy favorites, but it feels like the Foo Fighters year in the rock categories.

Jay-Z: West's dominance will disrupt his onetime mentor's flow, but his feature spot in "Umbrella" will make sure his name gets read at some point of the evening.

Justin Timberlake: What goes around may not come around for the young pop icon though his five nominations are spread out enough to make a trophy or two likely.

Timbaland: Timberlake's pal and collaborator is a bit sketchy as an artist, but he's an odds-on favorite for Producer of the Year this time out.

Ne-Yo: The R&B singer has done enough writing and guesting for others, in addition to his own work, that the loyalty factor will net him some metal to take home.

T-Pain: The Florida rapper may be a winner by association thanks to the good fortune to be a guest on potentially winning tracks by West and Chris Brown.

The 50th Annual Grammy Awards will be televised at 8 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 10) on CBS, WWJ-Channel 62 in Detroit. For a full list of nominees, visit www. grammy.com.

Web Site: www.grammy.com

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