Song of the Year
Kanye West – “All of the Lights” (songwriters: Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker, Really Doe, & Malik Yusef)
Mumford & Sons – “The Cave” (songwriters: Ted Dwane, Ben Lovett, Marcus Mumford & Country Winston)
Bruno Mars – “Grenade” (songwriters: Brody Brown, Claude Kelly, The Smeezingtons & Andrew Wyatt)
Bon Iver – “Holocene” (songwriter: Justin Vernon)
Adele – “Rolling in the Deep” (songwriters: Adele & Paul Epworth)
Who Should Win: Adele
Why: This one goes to the songwriter, and naturally we’d want to give it to the co-writer of our No. 1 single of 2011, a blown-out blowback of relationship bluster and that high D that can drown out car alarms.
Best New Artist
The Band Perry
Who Should Win: Skrillex
Why: Before you Bon Iver fans tear us limb from limb in the comments section, let us clarify. Although we clearly love Bon Iver’s extra-naked, sensitive, ’80s AM gold take on folk rock, our guyliner-and-glasses pal is essentially helping reinvent a new musical language of bowel-busting bass and whirring industrial noise. Bon Iver’s forbear Bruce Hornsby already won this very award in 1987, while an electronic artist has never taken one home. Let’s hear it for drawing new blood.
Best Rock Album
Jeff Beck – Rock ‘n’ Roll Party (Honoring Les Paul)
Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown
Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m With You
Wilco – The Whole Love
Who Should Win: Foo Fighters
Why: Because exactly one album on this list actually “rocks.”
Best R&B Album
Chris Brown – F.A.M.E.
El DeBarge – Second Chance
R. Kelly – Love Letter
Ledisi – Pieces of Me
Kelly Price – Kelly
Who Should Win: R. Kelly
Why: An underrated classic of throwback soul in the Raphael Saddiq vein, Kells proves he can pretty much do it all.
Best Rap Album
Jay-Z & Kanye West (The Throne) – Watch the Throne
Lil Wayne – Tha Carter IV
Lupe Fiasco – Lasers
Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Who Should Win: Kanye West
Why: Not only is it the most meticulously constructed, labored over rap album in the history or time; not only is it full of weird vocoder noise and Nicki’s greatest verse ever; but Kanye will be totally mad if he loses and we’ll never hear the end of it.
Best Rap Song
Kanye West – “All of the Lights”
Wiz Khalifa – Black and Yellow
Dr. Dre ft. Eminem & Skylar Grey – “I Need a Doctor”
Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes – “Look at Me Now”
Jay-Z & Kanye West (The Throne) – “Otis”
Lupe Fiasco – “The Show Goes On”
Who Should Win: Diplo, Busta Rhymes, and Lil Wayne
Why: Fuck unrepentant dickhead Chris Brown with a hot waffle iron forever and ever. But, seriously, two amazing rappers bringing their lightning-round A-games and one headknocking beatmaker need to go home with some trophies.
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
Tony Bennet & Amy Winehouse – “Body and Soul”
The Black Keys – “Dearest”
Coldplay – “Paradise”
Foster the People – “Pumped Up Kicks”
Who Should Win: Coldplay
Why: Fuck you, we like this song.