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Handicapping the 2012 Grammy Awards

On Sunday, the much-beloved and silent-of-late Adele will make her live-singing return at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Some Grammys (but not as many as there used to be) will also be handed out. Between the baffling qualification rules and the Recording Academy's historically staid tastes, it's hard to be too invested in the Grammys as anything other than an excuse for very unusual musical collaborations. (Or for Rosie-O'Donnell-led populist movements.) But there will be winners and losers, and since betting pools are half the awards show fun, Vulture now presents our predictions for the 2012 Grammy Awards. We also threw in a "Who Should Win" category, because complaining about the Grammys is the other half of the fun. To the guessing!

Best Pop Solo Performance
"Someone Like You" — Adele

"Yoü And I" — Lady Gaga

"Grenade" — Bruno Mars

"Firework" — Katy Perry

"F***in' Perfect" — Pink

Who Will Win: "Someone Like You" Right off the bat, we're confronted with this year's biggest Grammy question, which is: how unstoppable is Adele? If you went into a musical science lab to create the Perfect Grammy Nominee, your result would probably look just like her: genuinely talented, commercially dominant, wildly uncontroversial, and adored by all ages. Will her (spoiler alert) likely victories in all major categories cancel out a Best Pop win? Or will she split this vote with Bruno Mars, who's also up for "Best Song" and "Best Record" and will maybe garner some sympathy votes in this category? Is Gaga a factor? Our money is on no. "Someone Like You" rules.
Who Should Win: "Someone Like You" As noted above, "Someone Like You" is undeniable.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
"Body And Soul" — Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse

"Dearest" — The Black Keys

"Paradise" — Coldplay

"Pumped Up Kicks" — Foster The People

"Moves Like Jagger" — Maroon 5 & Christina Aguilera

Who Will Win: "Body And Soul"  In tribute to Amy.
Who Should Win: "Pumped Up Kicks" Because whistling is powerful. (But we're also obviously cool with the Amy.)

Best Dance Recording
"Raise Your Weapon" — Deadmau5 & Greta Svabo Bech

"Barbra Streisand" — Duck Sauce

"Sunshine" — David Guetta & Avicii

"Call Your Girlfriend" — Robyn

"Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites" — Skrillex

"Save The World" — Swedish House Mafia

Who Will Win: Skrillex He's this year's "Trying to Be Hip" nominee, coasting on a wave of dance and dubstep enthusiasm to five Grammys nods. This seems like his likeliest chance at a win, though David Guetta is probably a more recognizable name to Grammy voters.
Who Should Win: Robyn Robyn! Everybody put on your mohair sweater and do the worm in her honor, now.

Best Dance/Electronica Album

Cut Copy – Zonoscope

Deadmau5 – 4×4=12

David Guetta – Nothing But The Beat

Robyn – Body Talk, Pt. 3

Skrillex – Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites

Who Will Win: David Guetta Or maybe the Academy will reverse Best Dance Recording and Album prizes between Guetta and Skrillex? But we're guessing they'll split the categories.
Who Should Win: Skrillex (for making everyone in America like electronic music on Facebook) or Robyn (for being Robyn.)

Best Rock Performance

"Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall" — Coldplay

"Down By The Water" — The Decemberists

"Walk" — Foo Fighters "The Cave" —  Mumford & Sons
"Lotus Flower" — Radiohead

Who Will Win: Mumford & Sons. Historically, the Grammys straight love the Foo Fighters, but not in this category — they've won Hard Rock Performance and Rock Album a number of times, but never Rock Performance. Meanwhile, Coldplay has been nominated and lost in this category for four of the last six years. Playing by history, we'll therefore DQ both of them and go with Mumford & Sons, who might not see a win anywhere else on Sunday. 
Who Should Win: Anyone but Foo Fighters, who we're assuming will clean up in the other categories.

Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance
"On The Backs Of Angels" — Dream Theater

"White Limo" — Foo Fighters

"Curl Of The Burl"— Mastodon

"Public Enemy No. 1" — Megadeth

"Blood In My Eyes"— Sum 41

Who Will Win: Foo Fighters. See the history above.
Who Should Win: Megadeth Because they are the Susan Lucci of Heavy Metal Grammy nominees. (10 nominations!)

Best Rock Album

Rock 'N' Roll Party Honoring Les Paul — Jeff Beck

Wasting Light — Foo Fighters

Come Around Sundown — Kings Of Leon

I'm With You — Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Whole Love — Wilco

Who Will Win: Foo Fighters. They always do.
Who Should Win: Anyone but Kings of Leon They've been hogging this stage.

Best Alternative Music Album
Bon Iver — Bon Iver

Codes And Keys — Death Cab For Cutie

Torches — Foster The People

Circuital — My Morning Jacket

The King Of Limbs — Radiohead

Who Will Win: Bon Iver As soon as the nominations were announced, Bon Iver was anointed this year's Arcade Fire, in reference to last year's "Who Is Arcade Fire?" debacle. He's since proven a very reluctant nominee, giving interviews about his Grammys doubts and refusing to perform at this year's ceremony, but the Grammys are still promoting him in a major way. Bon Iver's 2011 indie darling status probably helps more than hurts it (the Academy doesn't hate music bloggers that much, right?), and The King of Limbs didn't make a huge splash this year.
Who Should Win: Bon Iver That was a good album.

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
"Party" — Beyoncé & André 3000

"I'm On One" — DJ Khaled, Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne

"I Need A Doctor" — Dr. Dre, Eminem & Skylar Grey

"What's My Name?" — Rihanna & Drake

"Motivation" — Kelly Rowland & Lil Wayne

"All Of The Lights" — Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie

Who Will Win: "All Of The Lights" This is a tough call! But we're guessing that "I'm On One" and "What's My Name" will split the Drake vote, and "Party" wasn't Beyonce's strongest 4 effort by a long shot.
Who Should Win: "All Of The Lights," "I'm On One," or even "What's My Name" (though that last one came out in 2010.) We enjoy all of these songs.

Best Rap Performance
"Look At Me Now" — Chris Brown, Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes

"Otis" — Jay-Z & Kanye West

"The Show Goes On" — Lupe Fiasco

"Moment 4 Life" — Nicki Minaj & Drake

"Black And Yellow" — Wiz Khalifa

Who Will Win: "Otis" After ten years of separating the rap performances into Solo and Group, the Grammys have thrown everyone back together. (Maybe this will end the Black Eyed Peas cruel tyranny over the category?) We're going with the Throne, because while the Grammys are maybe brave enough to invite Chris Brown back to perform, they are probably not crazy enough to actually give him an award. Also, who doesn't want another chance to see 'Ye and Jay on stage together?
Who Should Win: "Otis" Same as above.

Best Rap Album

Watch The Throne — Jay-Z & Kanye West

Tha Carter IV — Lil Wayne

Lasers — Lupe Fiasco

Pink Friday — Nicki Minaj

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy — Kanye West

Who Will Win: Kanye, for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Kanye has never lost this award when nominated, and though maybe his WTT/MDBTF canceled him out in the Best Album category (as he himself theorized), it probably won't happen here.
Who Should Win: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Best Country Solo Performance

"Dirt Road Anthem" — Jason Aldean

"I'm Gonna Love You Through It" — Martina McBride

"Honey Bee" — Blake Shelton

"Mean" — Taylor Swift

"Mama's Song" — Carrie Underwood

Who Will Win: Jason Aldean The Grammys were cold to their usual favorite Taylor Swift this year, and Carrie Underwood, though generally beloved by the Academy, seems like a pity nomination — "Mama's Song" hasn't exactly been tearing up the charts. "Dirt Road Anthem," meanwhile, made it to no. 7 on Billboard's Hot 100.
Who Should Win: Taylor Swift You know that part in "Mean" when she just tells everyone that they're liars and pathetic and alone in life? Love that.

Best Country Song

"Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not" — Jim Collins & David Lee Murphy, songwriters (Thompson Square)

"God Gave Me You" — Dave Barnes, songwriter (Blake Shelton)

"Just Fishin'" — Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell & Ed Hill, songwriters (Trace Adkins)

"Mean" — Taylor Swift, songwriter (Taylor Swift)

"Threaten Me With Heaven" — Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Will Owsley & Dillon O'Brian, songwriters (Vince Gill)

"You And Tequila" — Matraca Berg & Deana Carter, songwriters (Kenny Chesney Featuring Grace Potter)

Who Will Win: Taylor Swift The Grammys can't stay mad at Taylor forever.
Who Should Win: Taylor Swift That line "I just wanna feel okay again" is also always enjoyable. Good work, Taylor.

Best New Artist
The Band Perry

Bon Iver

J. Cole

Nicki Minaj

Skrillex

Who Will Win: Skrillex (We know.) Honestly, this is another straight toss-up: the only thing we're sure is about is that J. Cole will not be taking home any trophies. Bon Iver seems slightly more unlikely too, because he can win in other categories, and calling him a New Artist for his second beloved album still seems very weird. Nicki could easily take this one home, but we're going with Skrillex for the "huh" factor and last year's Esperanza Spalding situation.
Who Should Win: Nicki Minaj For the Year of "Super Bass."

Record Of The Year
"Rolling In The Deep" — Adele

"Holocene" — Bon Iver

"Grenade" — Bruno Mars

"The Cave" — Mumford & Sons

"Firework" — Katy Perry

Who Will Win: Adele And we're back to the big question at hand: can Adele sweep all the major categories? Can the chart-approved Bruno Mars eke out a win? We refer to history: Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" took home both Song and Record of the Year awards in 2008, and "Rolling in the Deep" is its equal in terms of ubiquity and likability. So we answer: yes, Adele can.
Who Should Win: Adele Sometimes, everyone agrees on something great.

Song Of The Year

"All Of The Lights" — Jeff Bhasker, Malik Jones, Warren Trotter & Kanye West, songwriters (Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie)

"The Cave" — Ted Dwane, Ben Lovett, Marcus Mumford & Country Winston, songwriters (Mumford & Sons)

"Grenade" — Brody Brown, Claude Kelly, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Bruno Mars & Andrew Wyatt, songwriters (Bruno Mars)

"Holocene" — Justin Vernon, songwriter (Bon Iver)

"Rolling In The Deep" — Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth, songwriters (Adele)

Who Will Win: Adele.
Who Should Win: Bon Iver  Let's have a little fun with this one! "Holocene" was a beautiful song.

Album Of The Year

21 — Adele

Wasting Light — Foo Fighters

Born This Way — Lady Gaga

Doo-Wops & Hooligans — Bruno Mars

Loud — Rihanna

Who Will Win: Adele The Amy Winehouse Theorem does not apply here--Back to Black famously lost the 2008 Best Album Grammy to Herbie Hancock. And surprises are not out of the question (see: Arcade Fire, 2011). Lady Gaga has lost this award two years running, which could be an argument against her, or could open the possibility that the Academy tries to make good this year. Meanwhile, the Grammys love old(er) guys, so the Foo Fighters have a shot. But the Best Album award tends to avoid the super pop, and if Arcade Fire started a riot last year, then imagine what would happen if the Foo Fighters took this won from Adele? The Academy will go with 21, just for self-preservation.
Who Should Win: Adele Why fight it. 

Photo: C Flanigan/Getty Images (Skrillex), Kevin Winter/Getty Images (Adele), Mike Coppola/Getty Images(Kanye)