Vulture Handicaps the 2013 Grammy Awards

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This Sunday, Frank Ocean and some other musicians will descend upon the Staples Center for the music industry’s annual attempt to anger people by handing out the wrong awards. (Remember, even Arcade Fire is wrong to half the Internet.) In the spirit of the evening, Vulture’s Grammy predictions come in two categories: who will win and who should win. Check back with us on Sunday to learn the actual results; Dave Holmes will be live-blogging, and we’ll be -tweeting, -GIFing, and all of the other usual Internet merriment.

Album of the Year
The Black Keys — El Camino
fun. — Some Nights
Mumford & Sons — Babel
Frank Ocean — Channel ORANGE
Jack White — Blunderbuss
Who Will Win:
Jack White and the Black Keys are obviously dream Grammy nominees, but you have to figure they’ll split the old-guy-guitar vote. With similar reasoning, you could maybe argue for a Mumford/fun. split (in the “bands who sell albums/are the future” category), clearing the way for a Frank Ocean win. Counterpoint: This is the Grammys, and a half-indie rock band is too much to resist. We’re predicting fun.
Who Should Win: Frank Ocean.

Best New Artist
Hunter Hayes
The Lumineers
Frank Ocean
Alabama Shakes
Who Will Win: There’s a decent math-based theory that Frank Ocean could win Best Album and fun. would take this award home as a consolation prize. But this is the category where the Grammys are willing to get “experimental,” and yes, Frank Ocean is still “experimental” for the Grammys. He’ll probably get this one instead of the big one.
Who Should Win: Frank, clearly.

Record of the Year
The Black Keys — “Lonely Boy”
Kelly Clarkson — “Stronger”
fun. — “We Are Young” feat. Janelle Monáe
Gotye — “Somebody That I Used to Know”
Frank Ocean — “Thinkin Bout You”
Taylor Swift — “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
Who Will Win: “We Are Young.” If you had a computer program that could design the perfect Grammy-winning artist and it could only make one Adele, then its second creation would look a lot like fun.: rockish, young but appealing to olds, commercially successful. They’re gonna have a big night.
Who Should Win: “Thinkin Bout You.” The cooler kids prefer “Bad Religion” or “Forrest Gump,” but it’s the Grammys; this can be your favorite Frank Ocean song for one night. (It is some people’s favorite Frank Ocean song every night.)

Song of the Year
Ed Sheeran — “The A Team”
Miguel — “Adorn”
Carly Rae Jepsen — “Call Me Maybe”
Kelly Clarkson — “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”
fun. — “We Are Young
Who Will Win: “We Are Young.” Like we said, it’s fun.’s night.
Who Should Win: “Adorn.” This is the category for songwriting, basically, and you could argue that Carly deserves it, too. (That is not a song about vocal skill.) But Miguel is doing all sorts of weird and interesting things, and “Adorn” … just turn it on again.

Best Pop Vocal Album
Kelly Clarkson — Stronger
Florence + the Machine — Ceremonials
fun. — Some Nights
Maroon 5 — Overexposed
Pink — The Truth About Love
Who Will Win: As noted above, you can make some weird math-based arguments for fun. losing the Best Album category, but here it’s pretty much a lock.
Who Should Win: Pink tries very hard! And she sings in trapezes!

Best Pop Solo Performance
Adele — “Set Fire to the Rain” [Live]
Kelly Clarkson — “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”
Carly Rae Jepsen — “Call Me Maybe”
Katy Perry — “Wide Awake”
Rihanna — “Where Have You Been”
Who Will Win: Look, if you want the safe money, vote Adele. But hear us out: A live performance of a song from last year’s album is not the most exciting choice, and the Grammys want nothing more than to remind you that the music industry is a thriving business with the power to make Colin Powell do stupid things on national television. So consider “Call Me Maybe?”
Who Should Win: Like we would pick anything other than “Call Me Maybe.”

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
Florence + the Machine — “Shake It Out”
fun. — “We Are Young” feat. Janelle Monáe
Gotye — “Somebody That I Used to Know” feat. Kimbra
LMFAO — “Sexy and I Know It”
Maroon 5 — “Payphone” feat. Wiz Khalifa
Who Will Win: “We Are Young.” See above.
Who Should Win: In this category? Sure, give it to fun. For the teens.

Best Alternative Music Album
Fiona Apple — The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
Björk — Biophilia
Gotye — Making Mirrors
M83 — Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Tom Waits — Bad As Me
Who Should Win: Honestly, you’d be just as likely to pick the winner with a game of darts (the Grammy voters probably will). But the Fiona album is probably too inaccessible for this catch-all category, and the Recording Academy will feel like it has to give Gotye something.
Who Should Win: Fiona Apple. Free Fiona (from the strange logic of the Recording Academy).

Best Rap Album
Drake — Take Care
Lupe Fiasco — Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1
Nas — Life Is Good
The Roots — Undun
Rick Ross — God Forgives, I Don’t
2 Chainz — Based on a T.R.U. Story
Who Will Win: Nas, on the respected-artist vote and the album-about-fatherhood vote.
Who Should Win: Drake, even if Take Care was centuries ago. It was magical.

Best Rap Song
Nas — “Daughters”
Wale feat. Miguel — “Lotus Flower Bomb”
Kanye West feat. Big Sean, Pusha T, and 2 Chainz — “Mercy”
Drake feat. Lil Wayne — “The Motto”
Jay-Z and Kanye West — “N*ggas in Paris”
Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa feat. Bruno Mars — “Young, Wild & Free”
Who Will Win: Kanye’s had the lock on this category for the better part of the decade, but he could cancel himself out here. (It’s happened before.) If so, our money is on “The Motto.”
Who Should Win: One more time for YOLO (though if Swerve wins instead, we’re good).

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
Flo Rida feat. Sia — “Wild Ones”
Jay-Z and Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean and The-Dream — “No Church in the Wild”
John Legend feat. Ludacris — “Tonight (Best You Ever Had)”
Nas feat. Amy Winehouse — “Cherry Wine”
Rihanna feat. Jay-Z — “Talk That Talk”
Who Will Win: “No Church in the Wild,” thanks to Frank.
Who Should Win: “No Church in the Wild.” Frank for the sweep.

Best Rap Performance
Drake feat. Lil Wayne — “HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)”
Jay-Z and Kanye West — “N*ggas in Paris”
Nas — “Daughters”
Kanye West feat. Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz — “Mercy”
Young Jeezy feat. Jay-Z and André 3000 — “I Do”
Who Will Win: Jay and ‘Ye won for “Otis” last year; it’s hard to imagine a situation in which they don’t repeat in the performance category.
Who Should Win: “Paris” feels ancient at this point, but that was also the Song for so long. (Due respect to Kim Kardashian’s cat. RIP Mercy.)

Best Urban Contemporary Album
Chris Brown — Fortune
Miguel — Kaleidoscope Dream
Frank Ocean — Channel ORANGE
Who Will Win: Frank Ocean.
Who Should Win: Frank Ocean and Miguel both made fantastic albums; why are they stuck in this uncomfortably named category with the biggest thug in the industry?

Best Traditional R&B Performance
Anita Baker — “Lately”
Beyoncé — “Love on Top”
Melanie Fiona — “Wrong Side of a Love Song”
Gregory Porter — “Real Good Hands”
SWV — “If Only You Knew”
Who Will Win: Melanie Fiona, because the Grammys have to give her something.
Who Should Win: SWV. They’ve never won one. Share the triumph!

Best R&B Song
Miguel — “Adorn”
Tamia — “Beautiful Surprise”
Trey Songz — “Heart Attack”
Anthony Hamilton — “Pray for Me”
Elle Varner — “Refill”
Who Will Win: “Adorn.”
Who Should Win: “Adorn.” Come on.

Best R&B Album
Robert Glasper Experiment — Black Radio
Anthony Hamilton — Back to Love
R. Kelly — Write Me Back
Tamia — Beautiful Surprise
Tyrese — Open Invitation
Who Will Win: Historically, this category goes for the big names, and the Grammys don’t have anything against criminal allegations (Chris Brown won last year). So: R. Kelly.
Who Should Win: Frank Ocean, Miguel, the Weeknd … Write Me Back was good, too, but this category is not exactly representative of R&B in 2012 is our point.

Best Rock Album
The Black Keys — El Camino
Coldplay — Mylo Xyloto
Muse — The 2nd Law
Bruce Springsteen — Wrecking Ball
Jack White — Blunderbuss
Who Will Win: This is tricky: Do the Black Keys and Jack White cancel each other out in the “upstart” (this is the Grammys) category, paving the way for Bruce, or do the Recording Academy’s giant crushes on Springsteen and White cancel each other out, paving the way for the Black Keys? Let’s say the latter.
Who Should Win: El Camino, if only so people will have to start paying to use the songs in commercials.

Best Rock Performance
Alabama Shakes — “Hold On”
The Black Keys — “Lonely Boy”
Coldplay — “Charlie Brown”
Mumford & Sons — “I Will Wait”
Bruce Springsteen — “We Take Care of Our Own”
Who Will Win: Bruce Springsteen has won this category (or its Best Solo Performance equivalent) five out of six times, and it seems insane to bet against him. But “We Take Care of Our Own” is too responsible, and “Lonely Boy” goes down like guitar candy.
Who Should Win: “Lonely Boy.”

Best Dance Recording
Avicii — “Levels”
Calvin Harris — “Let’s Go” feat. Ne-Yo
Skrillex — “Bangarang” feat. Sirah
Swedish House Mafia — “Don’t You Worry Child” feat. John Martin
Al Walser — “I Can’t Live Without You”
Who Will Win: “Levels” (even if everyone is just voting for his or her own personal remix).
Who Should Win: Sure, give to it “Levels.” (Or give it to Al Walser for sheer persistence.)

Best Dance/Electronica Album
Steve Aoki — Wonderland
The Chemical Brothers — Don’t Think
Deadmau5 — > Album Title Goes Here <
Kaskade — Fire & Ice
Skrillex — Bangarang
Who Will Win: The Chemical Brothers have fallen out of favor (they won in 2006 and 2008, but not in 2011) and Deadmau5 weirded everyone out too much at last year’s ceremony. So we assume the Grammy voters will just punch the “Oh, I’ve heard of that guy” Skrillex button.
Who Should Win: Robyn, for last year’s nomination.

Best Country Solo Performance
Dierks Bentley — “Home”
Eric Church — “Springsteen”
Ronnie Dunn — “Cost of Livin’”
Hunter Hayes — “Wanted”
Blake Shelton— “Over”
Carrie Underwood — “Blown Away”
Who Will Win: This is the second year with a combined male/female vocal category, and math would dictate a Carrie Underwood win, by the powers of vote-splitting. But Eric Church has a trump card: He wrote a song about Bruce Springsteen.
Who Should Win: Eric Church (because we can’t endorse a song that implies gas prices should be lower).

Best Country Album
Zac Brown Band — Uncaged
Hunter Hayes — Hunter Hayes
Jamey Johnson — Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran
Miranda Lambert — Four the Record
The Time Jumpers — The Time Jumpers
Who Will Win: Male solo acts (or even male-fronted bands) don’t usually stand a chance in this category. Plus, it’s Miranda’s turn.  
Who Should Win: Miranda Lambert is great by us.

Vulture Handicaps the 2013 Grammy Awards