The 54th Annual Grammy Awards are but days away! And, like we said, we’d sincerely love to help you with your office pools and living room side-bets with some sure-thing, professionally insightful, insider info Vegas-ready odds. But, again, we always seem to be dead wrong (you will rue the day you met us, Esperanza Spalding). So while we already told your our faves for the nine biggies, here are 11 more completely arbitrary, critical decisions on who should win some of our favorite sleeper categories.
Best Rock Song Coldplay – “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” Mumford & Sons – “The Cave” Foo Fighters – “Walk” The Decemberists – “Down by the Water” Radiohead – “Lotus Flower”
Who Should Win: Foo Fighters Why: Coldplay and Mumford are still too tender to rock by even the most liberal definition, Radiohead too impenetrable to rock since falling down a krautrock wormhole years ago, Decemberists too self-conscious to rock without quotey fingers and footnotes and a wooden bookmark carved to look like a duck. Or, conversely, fuck it, Foo Fighters are like Hüsker Dü and Boston rolled in one for this power-ballady blast of arena noise. “I’M NEVER GONNA DIE,” a celebration and a threat.
Best Alternative Music Album Bon Iver – Bon Iver, Bon Iver Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys Foster the People – Torches My Morning Jacket – Circuital Radiohead – The King of Limbs
Who Should Win: Bon Iver Why: Numbers, obviously. It’s the only album on this list that made our Top 50 of 2011. Writes Brandon Soderberg, “Forget about the mythical cabin in the woods: Instead, imagine a nice, cozy room full of ambitious friends boldly molding an inscrutable art-folk masterpiece.”
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 Should Win: Robyn Why: Robyn’s album is easily the most consistent of the bunch, though it helps that it’s only 18 minutes long. “Call Your Girlfriend” and “Indestructible” are higher highs than you’ll get on any electronic or pop record in 2010, and this traverses both with manic robo-pixie energy, half machine, half diva, all awesome.
Best Dance Recording Deadmau5 and Greta Svabo Bech – “Raise Your Weapon” Duck Sauce – “Barbra Streisand” David Guetta and Avicii – “Sunshine” Robyn – “Call Your Girlfriend” Skrillex – “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” Swedish House Mafia – “Save the World”
Who Should Win: Skrillex Why: “Barbra Streisand” is a goofy joy, “Call Your Girlfriend” is pop perfection, “Sunshine” a euphoric beach-house blast, “Raise Your Weapon” a secretly indie cool anthem for the ages, and the less said about “Save the World” the better. But Skrillex made probably the most important dance song of the last half-decade, and we’ll be feeling its bass ripples for years to come.
Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Dream Theater – “On the Backs of Angels” Foo Fighters – “White Limo” Mastodon – “Curl of the Burl” Megadeth – “Public Enemy No. 1″ Sum 41 – “Blood in My Eyes”
Who Should Win: Megadeth Why: We’ve certainly made no secret of our love of the recent Mastodon and Foo Fighters records… but only one of these five songs is in out heads as we type this. This is one of the rare cases we’d be fine with the veteran-leaning Grammy board go with a legacy artist and not pitch a fit. Plus anything that makes Dream Theater sad is fine by us.
Best Folk Album The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow Steve Earle I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues Eddie Vedder – Ukelele Songs Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest
Who Should Win: Gillian Welch Why: Fleet Foxes made a great indie-rock record with folkie trappings, we guess, but Gillian better captures folk music’s blurring of fragility and power and darkeness. Writes Rob Harvilla, “Welch and cohort David Rawlings viciously intertwine as though they’re buried in the same grave, singing Appalachian folk hymns of murder-ballad gravity, whether anybody gets killed or not. Harrow is harder than black metal, but is filled with subtle wit and unsubtle defiance.”
Best World Music Album AfroCubism – AfroCubism Femi Kuti – Africa for Africa Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Songs From a Zulu Farm Tinariwen – Tassili
Who Should Win: Tinariwen Why: Even though unplugging their guitars and hanging with TVOTR mellowed these desert troubadours, their still full of white-hot energy. Plus we’d never stump for anything called AfroCubism.
Best Comedy Album Weird Al Yankovic – Alpocalypse Patton Oswalt – Finest Hour Louis C.K. – Hilarious Kathy Griffin – 50 & Not Pregnant The Lonely Island – Turtleneck & Chain
Who Should Win: Louis C.K. Why: Look, Patton Oswalt is our homeboy and our hallowed guest editor emeritus, and probably our spirit animal. But with an everydude hyperbolic self-consciously that taps into our deepest neuroses, this is Louis’s award to win.
Best Recording Package Chickenfoot – Chickenfoot III Reckless Kelly – Good Luck & True Love J.Viewz – Rivers and Homes Arcade Fire – Scenes From the Suburbs Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne
Who Should Win: Jay-Z & Kanye West Why: Chickenfoot is a cornball 3-D gimmickry, Reckless Kelly is a steampunk goof, J Viewz is cool but is basically just a hole in some cardboard, Arcade Fire is like the old album cover painted red or something. Better give this to Yeezy and Jay even if its just because they had the cash to hire Riccardo Tisci to make something that looked evocative on an embossed CD or a iPhone image.
Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) Danger Mouse Paul Epworth The Smeezingtons Ryan Tedder Butch Vig
Who Should Win: Paul Epworth Why: Butch Vig should get some kind of trophy or making the Foo Fighters sound like a real rock band again, but Epworth can do practically anything: the tortured soul-minimalism of Adele, the chillwave sneaker commercials of Foster the People, the human fireworks of Florence + the Machine and even the razor’s edge boom-bap of the Big Pink.
Best Short Form Music Video Adele – “Rolling in the Deep” Memory Tapes – “Yes I Know” OK Go – “All Is Not Lost” Radiohead – “Lotus Flower” Skrillex – “First of the Year (Equinox)” Weird Al Yankovic – “Perform This Way”
Who Should Win: Adele Why: Because it’s our fourth most innovative music of 2011: “Forgoing histrionics for restraint, director Sam Brown contains Adele’s reverberating emotion in glasses of water, which only makes her tidal wave of grief feel that much more constrictive.”
Bonus: Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes Who should win: Syl Johnson Why: Look, we have no clue if they really deserve it, but we’ll pretty much ride for anything Numero Group does. And maybe if we write this they’ll send us a box set.