Grammy Awards Trying To Get In Tune With More Of Today’s Music

SUNDAY, FEB. 22, 1998

Bob Dylan, Erykah Badu, Puff Daddy, Duncan Sheik, Daft Punk, John Lee Hooker, the Pet Shop Boys, the Chieftains, Ani DiFranco, Korn and Deana Carter.

Certainly that partial list of Grammy nominees indicates that the Awards Show Formerly Known as Stodgy is trying to get in tune with the depth and breadth of the music world, circa late 1990s.

So why is there a lingering feeling that when winners are announced Wednesday night, it will be Celine Dion, Celine Dion and Celine Dion?

There’s something about the Grammys’ long and mostly undistinguished history that makes it necessary for this show to prove itself year after year. With that history in mind, and perhaps some hopefulness, here’s our handicapping of the top categories:

Record of the Year

Nominees: “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone,” Paula Cole; “Sunny Came Home,” Shawn Colvin; “Everyday is a Winding Road,” Sheryl Crow; “MMMBop,” Hanson; “I Believe I Can Fly,” R. Kelly.

And the winner is: R. Kelly. His soaring ballad (sorry, couldn’t resist) is worthy, and three pop-rock songs by women singers are likely to cancel each other out. The music industry lives in mortal fear that the Hanson teens will win and give the Grammys a bubble-gum blight, but they should lighten up. Be honest - which song did you hum more this year?

Album of the Year

Nominees: “The Day,” Babyface; “This Fire,” Paula Cole; “Time Out of Mind,” Bob Dylan; “Flaming Pie,” Paul McCartney; “OK Computer,” Radiohead.

And the winner is: Dylan. His nomination gives Grammy voters the chance to honor a legendary warhorse and, not so coincidentally, a very good album. Radiohead’s record is great but too daring, not enough people heard Cole’s and McCartney doesn’t belong here. Babyface is the toughest competition.

Song of the Year

Nominees: “Don’t Speak,” written by Eric & Gwen Stefani; “How Do I Live,” written by Diane Warren; “I Believe I Can Fly,” written by R. Kelly; “Sunny Came Home,” written by Shawn Colvin & John Leventhal; “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?,” written by Paula Cole.

And the winner is: “Sunny Came Home.” Admittedly, a wild guess. We just decided to go for our favorite.

Best New Artist

Nominees: Fiona Apple, Erykah Badu, Paula Cole, Puff Daddy, Hanson.

And the winner is: Cole. Apple has to overcome her image as a spoiled brat, Puff Daddy has to overcome his image as a song stealer and Hanson has to overcome acne. Badu is a close second.

Best Country Album

Nominees: “Unchained,” Johnny Cash; “Everything I Love,” Alan Jackson; “Long Stretch of Lonesome,” Patty Loveless; “Carrying Your Love with Me,” George Strait; “Under the Covers,” Dwight Yoakam.

And the winner is: Cash. We know this gives the country establishment hives, being that it was recorded in Los Angeles with rockers like Rick Rubin and Tom Petty, but it’s time to give this man the respect he deserves.

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance

Nominees: “Everytime I Close My Eyes,” Babyface; “Candle in the Wind 1997,” Elton John; “Whenever, Wherever, Whatever,” Maxwell; “Fly Like an Eagle,” Seal; “Barely Breathing,” Duncan Sheik.

And the winner is: John. We’re just including this to build up our average. No truth to the rumor they’ve already sent the award to him.

Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal

Nominees: “Silver Springs,” Fleetwood Mac; “MMMBop,” Hanson; “Virtual Insanity,” Jamiroquai; “Don’t Speak,” No Doubt; “Anybody Seen My Baby,” The Rolling Stones.

And the winner is: Fleetwood Mac. Gotta love this category. The Stones vs. Hanson? Scary thing is, those annoying teens deserve it more than rock’s best-preserved band.

Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group

Nominees: “I’ll Be Missing You,” Puff Daddy & Faith Evans featuring 112; “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down,” Puff Daddy featuring Mase; “Guantanamera,” Wyclef Jean featuring Celia Cruz & Jeni Fujita; “Not Tonight,” Lil’ Kim featuring Da Brat, Left Eye, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot & Angie Martinez; “Mo Money Mo Problems,” The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Mase and Puff Daddy.

And the winner is: Puff Daddy, featuring Puff Daddy. That’s all we’re going to say. We have a 60 percent chance of being right.

Best Spoken Word Album

Nominees: “Charles Kuralt’s Spring,” Charles Kuralt; “Contact,” Jodie Foster; “Even the Stars Look Lonesome,” Maya Angelou; “Living Faith,” Jimmy Carter; “A Reporter’s Life,” Walter Cronkite.

And the winner is: Who cares, really? We just love this collection of nominees. But if we have to make a choice, it’s Kuralt.

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