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Who will be the big winners at this year's new-look Grammys?

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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One thing’s for sure about the 60th Annual Grammy Awards: The winners list will look quite a bit different from previous years.

After that, all bets are off — or on, if you’re the wagering type.

After taking heat of varying degrees over relevance, the Recording Academy this year took a decidedly contemporary and urban turn. The leading nominees are rappers (Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar) and R&B artists (Bruno Mars, Khalid, Childish Gambino, Alessia Cara) rather than pop stars such as Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry and the solo efforts of No Direction members, or country stalwarts. Whether it’s a real changing of the guard or a one-year anomaly (keep in mind Taylor Swift’s new album is eligible for the 61st Grammys) remains to be seen.

But for now, this is our list, and we’re sticking to it. Here’s a look at how 10 of the top names are likely to fare when the winners’ envelopes are opened Sunday night, Jan. 28, in New York City.

[arrow up] • Bruno Mars: The dynamically talented Mars is no stranger to the Grammy stage — or podium, having won five previously. As the performer most likely familiar to non-rap voters, this year seems set up for him to be a big winner and take home a good chunk if not all of his six nominations.

[arrow sideways] • Kendrick Lamar: Lamar’s “Damn” was a critics consensus choice as one of the year’s best albums — which doesn’t always translate into Grammy wins. Look for him to prevail over fellow rappers Jay-Z and Childish Gambino but cede the general categories to Mars.

[arrow sideways] • Jay-Z: He’s the leading nominee with eight, and definitely stands a chance to bring a few home as a nod to his stellar career. Some posit that the Academy will honor his “4:44” as a mea culpa (as if it were needed) for choosing Adele over his wife, Beyonce, last year, but Mars in the general category and Lamar in rap present obstacles.

[arrow down] • Childish Gambino: All of the scenarios above will conspire to make Donald Glover’s musical alter ego an also-ran, save perhaps for Best Urban Contemporary Album.

[arrow up] • SZA: With four nominations, she’s a far cry from a sweep, but the St. Louis singer is the best bet to win the dubious distinction of Best New Artist.

[arrow sideways] • Khalid: The singer from Georgia made a big splash with his debut album, “American Teen.” The General nominations are a long shot, but wins in the R&B/Urban Contemporary categories are real possibilities.

[arrow down] • No I.D.: The good news is five nominations, including Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. The bad news is that the other four are hitched to Jay-Z’s “4:44,” which ... well, see the above entry.

[arrow sideways] • Justin Hurwitz: It’s been a long time since “La La Land” was a sensation. Academy members remembered it enough to give composer Hurwitz four nominations, but they may favor more recent fare such as “Dunkirk,” “Hidden Figures” and “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” for the winners list.

[arrow up] • Gregg Allman: Death, sadly, has a way of drawing attention — especially to the overlooked. Allman, who passed away in May, fits the bill and should register posthumous wins in his two categories.

[arrow up] • Chris Stapleton: Country’s awards ceremony darling has three more nominations this year and will likely continue his winning streak.

• The 60th annual Grammy Awards is broadcast at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, on CBS (WWJ-Channel 2 in Detroit). Performers include: Lady Gaga, P!nk, Kendrick Lamar, Elton John with Miley Cyrus, Bruno Mars and Cardi B, Louis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, SZA, Sam Smith, U2, Childish Gambino, Sting, Chris Stapleton, Little Big Town, Emmylou Harris, Gary Clark Jr., Ben Platt, Patti LuPone, Kesha, DJ Khaled with Rihanna and Bryson Tiller, Zuleyka Rivera, Logic with Alessia Cara and Khalid and a tribute to the Las Vegas concert shooting victims by Erich Church, Maren Morris and Brothers Osbourne. James Corden hosts. For more information visit Grammy.com.

• Note: The Grammy Awards pre-show, where most of the trophies are presented, begins streaming at 3 p.m. at the web site.

Metro Detroit nominees of note for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards:

• Big Sean, Best Rap Performance for “Bounce Back.”

• Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Best Orchestral Performance for Aaron Copland’s “Symphony No. 3: Three Latin American Sketches.”

• Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age, Best Rock Album for “Villains.”

• Marvin Sapp, Best Gospel Album for “Close.”

• Don Was, Best Americana Album for co-producing Gregg Allman’s posthumous “Southern Blood.”

• Dennis White, Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical for his Latriot Remix of Depeche Mode’s “You Move.”

• CeCe Winans, Best Gospel Performance/Song for “Never Have To Be Alone” and Best Gospel Album for “Let Them Fall In Love.”

Web Site: www.Grammy.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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