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And The Grammys Will Go To...

Of the Oakland Press

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The Dixie Chicks took the long way around, Justin Timberlake brought sexy back and Gnarls Barkley went "Crazy."

But will any of that get them a Grammy?

That question will be answered Sunday (Feb. 11) when the 49th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony takes place at Los Angeles' Staples Center. It's certainly an out-sized affair -- 108 awards, the vast majority presented off-camera before the CBS broadcast -- but at some point amidst the performances and expressions of gratitude we'll get a feel for who's night it will be.

R&B superstar Mary J. Blige enters as the frontrunner with eight nominations, which can be a blessing and a curse. But if she doesn't sweep, there are plenty of other nominees who will be happy to pick up the gold gramophones. Here's how things should fall out for the top baker's dozen of this year's contenders:

Dixie Chicks: If there's a sweep this year, whistle Dixie. The defiant anti-war/anti-Bush stance that got the trio in so much trouble with its country constituency will be rewarded by the Recording Academy's more liberal-minded voting body. And fortunately the album, "Taking the Long Way," merits the props.

Mary J. Blige: The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul will become the latest artist to walk in with the most nominations (eight) but have to settle for genre awards rather than the more high-profile major categories.

Red Hot Chili Peppers: The Dixie Chicks' gain will be the Peppers' pain. Their "Stadium Arcadium" will probably lose Album of the Year to the Chicks, but there will be some Rock trophies to take home.

Gnarls Barkley: The Academy would be "Crazy" not to send the duo home with some metal this year -- including Record of the Year. Then again, this [i]is[/i] the body that thought Jethro Tull was a heavy metal band...

Carrie Underwood: Whether or not she takes home any Country category trophies, the "American Idol" champ will be able to add Best New Artist to an already impressive resume of first-album achievements.

Beyonce: With four nominations, she could be a wild card -- especially since Grammy voting was going on during the run-up to her starring role in "Dreamgirls." That kind of buzz is "Irreplaceable" -- and priceless.

Justin Timberlake: "FutureSex/LoveSounds" will be an Album of the Year also-ran, but the Pop and Dance categories may be friendlier terrain.

James Blunt: The major nominee (five) most likely to walk away empty-handed because a) of stiff competition in most of his categories and b) most voters probably couldn't stay awake through "Back to Bedlam," his somnolent debut album. That said, "You're Beautiful" may at least pick up a Pop prize.

John Mayer: Mayer is another one who seems a bit light in each of his five categories. But his peers see through the pop image and respect his playing, and the one-two punch of his John Mayer Trio live album last year's "Continuum" set were cred builders.

Corinne Bailey Rae: She had a nice debut year but doesn't have quite enough juice to prevail in her categories.

Prince: Remember that the Grammy voting was wrapped up well before he had a chance to enjoy a Super Bowl bump.

T.I.: [arrow down] The Atlanta rapper's rockin' with four nominations, but there'll be no crown for this "King" on Grammy night.

Rick Rubin: The likely Producer of the Year winner will hear his praises sung -- and spoken -- all night long since clients such as the Dixie Chicks and Red Hot Chili Peppers will be making multiple acceptance speeches.


Here's the performing lineup for tonight's Grammy Awards ceremony:

Christina Aguilera


Mary J. Blige

Chris Brown, Lionel Richie and Smokey Robinson

The Dixie Chicks

Gnarls Barkley

John Legend


John Mayer

The Police (opening the show)

Corrine Bailey Rae

Rascal Flatts and Carrie Underwood

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Shakira with Wyclef Jean

Justin Timberlake (solo and with winner of the My Grammy Moment contest)


We'll be watching these Detroit-area Grammy connections during tonight's ceremony:

Anita Baker: Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance ("Christmas Time Is Here").

Deborah Henson-Conant (Best Classical Crossover Album, "Invention & Alchemy" with David Lockington and the Grand Rapids Symphony).

Ben Edmonds: Best Album Notes (the Pretenders' "Pirate Radio").

Eminem: Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("Smack That" with Akon and "Shake That" with Nate Dogg).

Kenny Garrett: Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group ("Beyond the Wall")

Madonna: Best Dance Recording, Best Electronic/Dance Album and Best Long Form Music Video

Greg Phillinganes: Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist ("Good Morning Heartache," Chris Botti and Jill Scott).

The Raconteurs: Best Rock Album ("Broken Boy Soldiers") and Best Rock Performance by a Duo Or Group ("Steady, As She Goes").

Smokey Robinson: Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album ("Timeless Love").

Kierra (KiKi) Sheard: Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album ("This Is Me").

Chad Smith (Detroit-born drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers): Album of the Year and Best Rock Album ("Stadium Arcadium"), Best Rock Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocal, Best Rock Song and Best Short Form Music Video ("Dani California).

The Temptations: Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance ("How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)").

Stevie Wonder: Best Pop Collaboration ("For Once In My Life," with Tony Bennett).


Some offbeat ceremony-related odds set by BetUS.com for this year's Grammys:

50:1 Someone will trip and fall on stage.

1:15 A winner will have their speech cut off early.

5:1 Someone will get on stage to protest not receiving an award.

5:1 There will be a wardrobe malfunction on the red carpet.

100:1 Britney (Spears) and Kevin (Federline) show up together.

5:1 Britney and Kevin leave together.

10:1 Paparazzi shots will show Britney isn't wearing underwear.

3:1 R. Kelly's date will be under 16 years old.

Even The Dixie Chicks will win Album of the Year

2:1 The Dixie Chicks will criticize President George W. Bush during an acceptance speech.

Web Site: www.grammy.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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