2012 Grammys Decoded: Predictions on Music’s Big Night

2012 Grammys Decoded: Predictions on Music’s Big Night

Airing on CBS on Sunday, February 12, The Grammys stands as music’s biggest award show. It’s a night where all the musical achievements of the past year can be appreciated and artists can network among some of the biggest acts of the year, including the ubiquitous Adele and Lady Gaga, along with Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Bruno Mars. “Winning a Grammy says, ‘My peers believe this body of work was the best in its class for that year,” says Gerrick Kennedy, a music writer with The Los Angeles Times. “This is the one show that, for better or worse, recognizes artistry over popularity. It’s that prestige that will never see an artist say, ‘I don’t need a Grammy, I won three BET Awards.’”

This year’s awards will be the first show after The Recording Academy‘s controversial cut of 31 categories, many of which were combined into other awards. “Black music critics and fans were angered because [R&B] was taken from eight awards to just four,” Kennedy says. Indeed, the Best R&B Performance award for 2012 includes nominees that in 2011 would have been eligible in the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Best Urban/Alternative Performance, respectively. “I think the biggest drawback is that the new rules and categories left little or no distinction between contemporary and traditional R&B,” he continues. “The [still-present, but slightly named-changed] Best Traditional R&B and Best R&B Performance categories really have no difference if you look at the nominees in both races. So while Beyoncé, Jill Scott, Jazmine Sullivan and Miguel all had big releases, nods went to quieter ones from Kelly Price, Ledisi and El DeBarge, all of which were very traditional R&B discs.”

Still, each year after the show, winners of every category tend to see a brief bump in units sold and a rise of their material on the charts. “The surge in sales, like any award show, seems to come from the public’s desire to know, ‘What makes so-and-so special enough to have won?’” Kennedy says. “They see an artist that maybe a colleague or friend had mentioned or they read about, but hadn’t gotten curious enough to check them out or buy their music. Now they’ve won this huge award and they want to see what the fuss is about. Or it could be an artist that they’d casually been a fan of and purchased a single here and there, but maybe loved their performance [at the awards] so now they want more.”

That curiosity and craving from fans is big business for record labels. Last year, global music sales reached $16.2 billion, with nearly a third ($5.2 billion) coming from digital sales. Kennedy notes a few artists he thinks will help the industry earn some more cash come Grammy night. For starters, he predicts Ledisi to win Best R&B Performance for “Pieces of Me”; Betty Wright and The Roots to take home the trophy for Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Surrender”; Cee-Lo Green and Melanie Fiona to score a win for “Fool for You” in the Best R&B song category; and for R. Kelly to win Best R&B Album for his Love Letter disc. He also predicts a big night for Kanye West, who has this year’s most nominations. Kennedy forecasts that he’ll share a Best Rap Performance Grammy with Jay-Z for their duet, “Otis”; get a win for Best Rap Song with his ensemble cast featured on “All the Lights”; and will repeat his win for Best Rap Album for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, an honor he’s previously won for 2005’s Late Registration and 2007’s Graduation. Speaking of Jay-Z, Kennedy also thinks that his wife, Beyoncé, will grab a win for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration with her André 3000-assisted version of “Party.”

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