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Who's Headed For a Big Grammy Grab This Year?

Of the Oakland Press

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Lil Wayne may wind up sucking on a celebratory "Lollipop."

Coldplay may truly be able to shout "Viva!"

Alison Krauss and Robert Plant may raise a little bit more than sand.

It's hard to know who will be heroes and who will be heartbroken at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards, taking place Sunday (Feb. 8) in Los Angeles. With 110 awards categories there will be plenty of acceptance speeches -- most delivered before the actual CBS telecast begins -- but the main story each year is ascertaining the Big Winner, the one act (or sometimes two) that walks away with either the most trophies or the "right," prestigious prizes that generally result in a winners' buzz that will last well into the year.

We've peered into the crystal ball of bop for some guidance, so here's a look at who among the leading nominees is likely to be carrying home trophies and who will leave empty handed...

Lil Wayne: With a field-leading eight nominations, the New Orleans rapper is poised to make some big things happen for hip-hop -- especially if "The Carter III" wins Album of the Year. It won't, but Weezy will still take home his share of Grammy gold, primarily from the Rap categories.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: The smart money for any sort of Grammy sweep should be on this unlikely pairing of a bluegrass darling and the long-locked former Led Zeppelin singer. Their "Raising Sand" was the best album of 2007 and only gained momentum in 2008, snagging five Grammy nominations. And Academy voters have typically rewarded these kind of surprising creative collisions -- and have demonstrated a soft spot for producer T-Bone Burnett, who shepherded the project.

Coldplay: The British quartet with seven nominations is probably the second best-bet for a sweep but will face a Krauss-Plant roadblock in the Record and Album of the Year categories. Its "Viva la Vida" has strong Song of the Year potential, however, and the Pop and Rock fields will probably go Coldplay's way, too.

Jay-Z, Kanye West, T.I. and Lupe Fiasco: The Weezy factor kicks in here as Lil Wayne's domination in the Rap field will sink his colleagues' chances like a new Vanilla Ice single.

Radiohead: Like Jay-Z and Kanye, tough competition from a protege (in this case Coldplay) will mean no pot at the end of the "In Rainbows" for this British group, despite the kudos for its inventive online release of the album.

Ne-Yo: The R&B singer has written for enough other artists whose camps will vote for him to get a little somethin' somethin' out of his six nominations, but his haul won't be large enough to require a second set of hands.

John Mayer: Rumor has it that he's about to propose to his gal "Friend" Jennifer Aniston, which is good because the guitar-slinging pop heartthrob will go home a bridesmaid despite his five nominations.

George Strait: He's country's leading nominee with four, but despite his continuing commercial success ol' reliable will be dusted by a formidable corps of younger artists this time around.

Jazime Sullivan: The Grammy's top newcomer with five nods, the Philadelphia R&B diva has a fair chance for Best New Artist but will likely bow before more seasoned heavyweights like Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson in her other categories.

Adele: Nominations in three of the four major categories might be impressive enough to get the British singer Best New Artist, but her "Pavements" will be chasing someone else for Song and Record of the Years.

Jonas Brothers: Even though they were technically not a new act during the eligibility period, the Disney-made trio could take the Best New Artist category if their competitors (Adele, Sullivan and Duffy) split the girl power vote.

Danger Mouse: Producer extraordinaire and half the force behind Gnarls Barkley, he won't walk away without at least one of the four Grammys he's up against.

The Eagles: The veteran group might make "A Long Walk Home" with a Grammy in hand if its country friends weigh into the Pop field to put a little wind beneath its wings.

The 51st Annual Grammy Awards air at 8 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 8) on CBS, WWJ-TV (Channel 62) in Detroit. Schedule performers include Kid Rock, Adele and Sugarland, Terence Blanchard, Chris Brown, Coldplay, Miley Cyrus, Neil Diamond, Jennifer Hudson, the Jonas Brothers, Lil Wayne, Paul McCartney with Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, M.I.A., Katy Perry, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Radiohead, Smokey Robinson, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Robin Thicke and Allen Toussaint, T.I. and Justin Timerlake, U2, Carrie Underwood, and Kanye West and Estelle, Stevie Wonder and a tribute to Bo Diddley with B.B. King, Buddy Guy, John Mayer and Keith Urban.

Local Icons Get Special Grammy Awards

Detroit — and, more specifically, Pontiac — are getting props at this year’s Grammy Awards festivities.

Motown stalwarts the Four Tops and jazz piano great Hank Jones are both in the latest class of Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipients, which were presented Saturday in Los Angeles and will be highlighted during tonight’s telecast of the awards ceremony.

“That’s an awesome award,” notes Abdul “Duke” Fakir, the only founding member remaining in the Four Tops’ lineup. “Every artist ranks different awards in different places; all of them are an honor, but to me this is probably the biggest because it sums up your whole career — and it’s summed up by the industry.

“The (fans) already think you’ve done something wonderful. But when the industry says,

nks, you’ve done a lifetime

od for the industry,’ that, to me, gives you a good pat on the back.”

e Tops — whose current member Ronnie McNeir was raised in Pontiac — are being honored by the Recording Academy for one of Motown’s most prolific hit parades, including enduring classics such as “Reach Out (I’ll Be There),” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” “Standing In The Shadows of Love,” “Bernadette,” and “Baby I Need Your Loving.” The group, which suffered the loss of frontman Levi Stubbs in October after a long illness, continues to perform and, according to Fakir, is considering recording a new album and also releasing some archival material it recorded with the late Motown producer Norman Whitfield.

The 90-year-old Jones, a composer and bandleader as well as a pianist, also was raised in Pontiac, and was followed into music by two younger brothers, trumpet player Thad and drummer Elvin, both of whom have passed away. In addition to his own releases, Jones has worked with Cannonball Adderley, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Lester Young, as well as the Great Jazz Trio, which Jones formed with Ron Carter and Tony Williams. He resides in upstate New York but returned home for a pair of performances in 2008, including the Detroit International Jazz Festival.

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