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Leading nominees ready for a Grammy Awards shoot-out

For Journal Register Newspapers

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Some years there's consensus going into the Grammy Awards. Consider Michael Jackson in 1984, or Adele's sweep last year.

That won't be the case this time.

In fact, the 55th annual Grammys are likely to be something of a shoot-out -- or, if you prefer, a toss-up. Six acts -- the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, fun., Jay-Z, Mumford & Sons, Frank Ocean and Kanye West -- are at the top of the list with six nominations each. The Black Keys, Miguel and Chick Corea, meanwhile, each have five.

That's a logjam with no unlikely candidate to sweep and few clear-cut winners in any of the Grammys' 81 categories. That makes it hard to predict -- and maybe more fun because of that.

So let's dust off the musical crystal ball and analyze how these leading candidates will fare when the envelopes start being opened on Sunday, Feb. 10, at Los Angeles' Staples Center...

* Frank Ocean: He may be a fresh face, and Chris Brown may not like him after their recent parking lot punch-up, but the R&B singer has the right combination of hip, provocative and cutting-edge -- with music that backs up his all the attention he's received. It also helps that he's the R&B and rap community's primary nominee in the major categories, which means there's a formidable voting block behind him. Look for Ocean to sail away with Album of the Year for "Channel Orange" and Best New Artist, though the latter will be a battle with Hunter Hayes who, as the sole country nominee, will be backed by a similarly strong voting community.

* Dan Auerbach/The Black Keys: The Black Keys have three Grammys in their pocket already and are likely to take home one or two more this year -- but most likely in the Rock field rather than the major categories. Those won't be slam dunks, either; the Ohio duo will face some formidable competition from Detroit native Jack White and Bruce Springsteen, whose "Wrecking Ball" is the favorite to take home Best Rock Album. Auerbach, meanwhile, is a longshot for Producer of the Year.

* fun.: We're rooting for this trio, which is deservedly nominated in all four major categories. Unfortunately, tough competition -- Ocean for Album of the Year and Best New Artist, Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" for Record of the Year, Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" for Song of the Year and Gotye and Clarkson in the Pop field -- will make it no, well, fun for fun. and its Royal Oak-based member Andrew Dost.

Mumford & Sons: [glass half-full] There's a lot of love for these Brits and their role in jump-starting the new folk-rock movement. A long shot for Album of the Year and in the Rock categories, the troupe may well, and ironically, win its first Grammy for Best Americana Album.

* Jay-Z: With 14 Grammys already on his mantle, Jigga is a quiet nominations co-leader this year with all of his nominations in the Rap field. The love of his colleagues will likely mean he'll bring home a little more clutter for Beyonce and Blue Ivy, but it probably won't be an armful of trophies, either.

* Kanye West: Though he's always complained about getting short shrift on the awards front, Jay-Z's "Watch the Throne" partner has done well by the Grammys, with 18 to his credit. Four of his six nominations are in tandem with Jay-Z, in fact, and the potent combination could help add to his career total.

* Miguel: Two albums in, this Los Angeles singer is generating plenty of heat. His smash "Adorn" may not get Song of the Year, but it's an odds-on favorite to be adorned with Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance awards, and "Kaleidoscope Dream" has a fair chance to snag Best Urban Contemporary Album.

* Chick Corea: The jazz icon is up against himself for Best Improvised Jazz Solo, Best Jazz Instrumental Album. That decreases rather than increases his chances, splitting the vote and opening the door for other nominees. But don't feel too bad for him; Corea has 18 Grammys to date, and you can bet there are scores of future nominations ahead.

Journal Register Newspapersmusic writer Gary Graff is a voting member of The Recording Academy, which produces and administers the Grammy Awards each year.

The 55th Annual Grammy Awards will be broadcast at 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS, WWJ-TV (Channel 62) in Detroit. Performers include Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert, the Black Keys, Kelly Clarkson, fun. Elton John and Ed Sheeran, the Lumineers, Maroon5 and Alicia Keys, Mumford & Sons, Frank Ocean, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Carrie Underwood, Jack White and the trio of Bruno Mars, Rihanna and Sting. LL Cool J hosts. The pre-show awards ceremony will be webcast at www.Grammy.com.

Detroit's 2013 Grammy nominees:

* Anita Baker: Best Traditional R&B Performance

* Big Sean: Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song

* Andrew Dost of fun.: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Best Pop Vocal Album

* Kenny Garrett: Best Improvised Jazz Solo, Best Jazz Instrumental Album

* Marvin Sapp: Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance, Best Gospel Song, Best Gospel Album

* Jack White: Album of the Year, Best Rock Song, Best Rock Album,

Web Site: www.grammy.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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