HITS Daily Double
Keys has a good chance of winning in all six categories in which she was nominated, while India.Arie may well be shut out in all seven of hers.


Paul Grein's Fearless Forecast
Paul Grein has been covering, predicting and analyzing the Grammy Awards since the days when "The Panel" was a reference to Al Hirt's cummerbund. Last year, he was a very impressive 15 out of 22 in his picks.

Alicia Keys is about to avenge "The Panel"—that mysterious, blue-ribbon committee that chooses the Grammy nominees in the leading categories. In selecting the Album of the Year finalists, the panel bypassed Keys' Songs in A Minor, which was almost certainly in the top five in the initial vote of rank-and-file Grammy members, in favor of albums by India.Arie and OutKast, which most likely weren't.

The move allowed India.Arie to snag one more nomination than Keys (seven to six), but look for Keys to get the last laugh on Feb. 27, when the 44th annual Grammy Awards are presented at L.A.'s Staples Center. Keys has a good chance of winning in all six categories in which she was nominated, while India.Arie may well be shut out in all seven of hers.

The competition will be head-on because, except for Album of the Year, they're the same categories—Record and Song of the Year, Best New Artist, Best R&B Album, Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

If Keys pulls off a clean sweep, as we expect, she'll become the first female artist to win six Grammys in one night. Even if she stumbles in one category, she'll still tie Lauryn Hill for the female Grammy record. The hip-hopper picked up five awards for her 1998 album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR: The other big story will be U2, which is likely to win five awards, including Album of the Year for All That You Can't Leave Behind. That would make U2 the first band ever to win Album of the Year twice (take that, Beatles). Bono and company first won this award with the landmark The Joshua Tree back in 1987 B.P. ("Before Panel"), when Grammy voters somehow managed to choose the nominees in the top categories without being second-guessed by a blue-ribbon committee. Fancy that. But U2 doesn't quite have a lock on the prize. Bob Dylan's presence in the race with Love and Theft could split the Rock vote, allowing the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack to pull off an upset. But that's not likely. U2, which led all artists with eight nominations, has a much higher profile at the moment than Dylan, who received just two bids. Besides, no country album has won in this category since a Glen Campbell LP scored 33 years ago. The other nominees—India.Arie's Acoustic Soul and OutKast's Stankonia—are more or less along for the ride. Pick: U2 will have another "Beautiful Day."

RECORD OF THE YEAR: Alicia Keys' "Fallin'" is a sophisticated soul ballad with classical overtones. That tells Grammy voters that Keys is a serious artist who has done her homework. She may wear a leather jacket to attract the TRL crowd, but she knows her stuff. The only possible hitch is if a U2 sweep develops, which could lift "Walk On" to an upset victory. "Walk On" probably taps in better to the post-9/11 mood, but "Fallin'" has Grammy written all over it. Train's "Drops of Jupiter" was nominated in an arrangement category, which shows that it's on the Grammy radar screen, but it's a long shot. India.Arie's "Video" and OutKast's "Ms. Jackson" are even longer shots. Pick: Grammy voters will be "Fallin'" for Keys.

SONG OF YEAR: The awards for Record and Song of the Year have gone hand-in-hand eight of the last 10 years. That's good news for Keys' "Fallin'," India.Arie's "Video" and Train's "Drops of Jupiter," which are vying in both categories. U2 is also nominated for both awards, but with two different songs. "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" is the contender here, rather than "Walk On." That's confusing. Grammy voters don't like curve balls. With U2 as hot and respected as it is, "Stuck" can't be ruled out, but only once in the past 25 years has a tune won for Song of the Year when the track wasn't nominated for Record of the Year. And if you called out, "Somewhere Out There,' 1987," you really need to get a life. Nelly Furtado's "I'm Like a Bird" rounds out the field. Pick: Keys will have Grammy bookends.

BEST NEW ARTIST: The panel preferred India.Arie, but rank-and-file voters will back Keys. Her album hit a home run with both fans and critics. Nelly Furtado will also have support. Linkin Park could conceivably win if the three women split the vote, but that's just prognostication B.S. The winner will be a woman—it almost always is—and the woman will be named Alicia. David Gray was lucky to be nominated—literally. The panel chose him over Ryan Adams, who made the Male Vocal finals in both the Rock and Country categories. Pick: That's three for Keys.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM: Elton John didn't win a Grammy on his own (we're discounting Dionne & Friends) until 1991—and then only in the third-tier category of Best Instrumental Composition. But since then, Grammy voters have warmed to him, awarding him the Male Pop Vocal prize twice in the '90s. That bodes well for Songs From the West Coast, John's return to his early-'70s sound. Grammy voters can make up for never having voted for John's '70s work by voting for John's nod to his '70s work (how perfect is that?). Nelly Furtado also has a chance with Whoa, Nelly! (Her producers, Gerald Eaton and Brian West, are vying for Producer of the Year.) Sade's Lovers Rock and Janet Jackson's All for You are also contenders, though neither artist has won in the Pop field. NSYNC's Celebrity is the fifth nominee. Pick: Elton John, who is finally about the same age as the majority of Grammy voters.

BEST FEMALE POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE: None of the finalists has ever won in the Pop field, so it's a wide-open contest. Janet Jackson's only Grammys to date are for her videos and songwriting. Voters seem unimpressed by her thin voice, so we'll discount her entry, "Someone to Call My Lover." But any of the four other nominees have a shot. Nelly Furtado ("I'm Like a Bird") is a fresh face, Faith Hill ("There You'll Be") won three Grammys last year, and Sade ("By Your Side") and Lucinda Williams ("Essence") have each won two Grammys. Williams has a slight edge because her support is so broad. In addition to this race, she is a finalist in the Female Rock, Female Country and Contemporary Folk categories. Pick: Williams will give Furtado the "Bird."

BEST MALE POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE: Three past winners of this category will fight it out—Michael Jackson for "You Rock My World," Elton John for "I Want Love" and James Taylor for a remake of "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight." The voters ignored Taylor's ballad when it was first released in 1972, but it's a great song—and it seems even stronger in this weak field. Brian McKnight ("Still") is a perennial Grammy bridesmaid; the voters like him, but they want to keep him humble. Also nominated: Craig David's "Fill Me In." Pick: JT will find that familiarity breeds Grammys.

BEST DANCE RECORDING: The name of this category doesn't include the words "vocal performance," so Janet Jackson's limited vocal skills won't kill the sale. She's the favorite for "All for You." Pick: This Ms. Jackson will not be an outcast.

BEST POP COLLABORATION WITH VOCALS: This will be close between Tony Bennett & Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind" and "Lady Marmalade," the chart-topping smash by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya & Pink. Joel's song, which he first recorded in 1976, is timely and poignant in light of recent events. And Joel and Bennett have won a combined 14 Grammys. A win for "Lady Marmalade" would mostly be a way of saluting Moulin Rouge for its success in reviving the movie musical. Pick: Four pop tarts will be no match for Bennett, Joel and New York.

BEST ROCK ALBUM: Pick: U2, which is also likely to win for Best Rock Song and Best Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in both Pop and Rock.

BEST HARD ROCK PERFORMANCE: Linkin Park ("Crawling") is the only finalist here that was also nominated for Best Rock Album. The others—Alien Ant Farm, P.O.D., Rage Against the Machine and Saliva—were passed over. This is almost too easy. (Now watch Rage win for the second consecutive year.) Pick: Linkin Park will crawl to the stage.

BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM: Radiohead ("Amnesiac'') is vying to become the first act to win three times in this category, but Coldplay ("Parachutes'') will give the band a run for its money. "Yellow,'' a track from Coldplay's album, is nominated in two rock categories in which Radiohead's "Knives Out'' was passed over. On the other hand, Grammy voters love brand names. Only one rookie act—Green Day—has ever won in this category. Besides, Radiohead's producer, Nigel Godrich, is a finalist for Producer of the Year. In the print version of HITS, I went with Coldplay, but after more reflection, I'm switching over to Radiohead. (Be glad I'm not running the war in Afghanistan.)

BEST R&B ALBUM: We boldly predict that a female act will win this award! Of course, it helps that women recorded all five nominated albums—Aaliyah's Aaliyah, India.Arie's Acoustic Soul, Mary J. Blige's No More Drama, Destiny's Child's Survivor and Alicia Keys' Songs In A Minor. It's easy to see at least four of them winning (and less easy to script a winning scenario for India.Arie), but Keys towers over them all. Pick: Keys, who is also likely to win for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Female Vocal Performance.

BEST RAP ALBUM: OutKast has this one in the bag with Stankonia. The nominations for Record and Album of the Year tell the story. "Ms. Jackson" will bring the duo a second award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group and could even bring them a third for Best Short Form Music Video. Pick: Will they still call themselves OutKast when they are multiple Grammy winners?

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM: Unfortunately, the album that was almost universally acknowledged as the year's best country release, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, wasn't allowed to compete here. That clears the way for another multiple-artist album, Timeless—Hank Williams Tribute. Four of the tracks (by Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams, Ryan Adams and Johnny Cash) are nominated for performance awards. That's four votes right there! Pick: When the producers of the Hank Williams tribute thank the academy, you'll know they really mean it.

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR: This will be close between T Bone Burnett, who pulled together the O Brother soundtrack, and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, the 1986 winners whose output this year included Grammy-nominated releases by Janet Jackson, Sting, Mary J. Blige and Usher. The country field hasn't produced a winner in this category since 1979, when Larry Butler took the prize for his work with Kenny Rogers. But Burnett's fame extends beyond that niche. And choosing him would be a way of giving O Brother a major award. Besides, Jam & Lewis must split R&B/hip hop votes with Dr. Dre, who won in this category last year for his work with Eminem. Pick: Voters will want to throw O Brother a Bone.