21 Questions for the 2012 Grammys

Posted on 02/06/2012 at 10:18 AM

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The Popdust Files: adele, beyonce, bon iver, chirs brown, grammys, kanye west, lady gaga, ll cool j, nicki minaj, nominations, skrillex, taylor swift, tony bennett

You might think you have all the answers to the 2012 Grammys–who’s nominated ,who’s gonna win, who’s gonna perform, who’s gonna make awkward banter with LL Cool J, who’s gonna make an overt pass at the newly single Katy Perry—but trust us, there’s still more questions than there are answers. Though Adele is the prohibitive favorite to have the most important award wins and the most buzzed-about performance, there’s still plenty to wonder about, concerning both Adele and the rest of the key players involved with the awards. Here’s a number of the most-pressing inquiries—21, in fact, in honor of what’s-her-name—facing us a week before the ceremonies tip off:

1. What kind of Don Cornelius tribute will the show put together?
We’ve already posited our guess—a Soul Train Line tribute choreographed by Paula Abdul (or possibly Laurieann Gibson, whoever’s cheaper these days), soundtracked by The Roots, with a couple slots available for whatever celebrities feel like jumping up on stage to do a little shimmy and shake. (?uestlove is already listed as a presenter, so we’re feeling pretty good about our odds). In any event, the show will probably need to do something to honor the beloved late TV host, and we’re hoping that the show will be all the funkier for it.

2. What kind of Etta James tribute will the show put together?
Perhaps the more pressing question, and one we’ve already spent a good deal of time debating, the Grammys will also likely feel obligated to pay homage to legendary R&B diva Etta James, who passed just a week and a half before Cornelius. We’re gonna call Christina Aguilera as the likely featured performer, though we fear the worst with Joss Stone and Jessie J (and still secretly hold out hope for a Lana Del Rey upset). Of course, there is another plausible candidate…

3. Will Beyoncé make her first post-pregnancy appearance?
Her critically acclaimed but commercially disappointing album 4 got shut out, and the most exciting award she’s nominated for is Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (which she could very well lose to ex-groupmate Kelly Rowland anyway), but still—where is Beyoncé gonna make a bigger splash for her comeback appearance than at the Grammys? (Unless, of course, we missed her at the Super Bowl last night.) The Etta James thing is the wildcard factor—Beyoncé and Etta obviously had a very personal (albeit occasionally testy) professional relationship towards the end of the latter’s life, and Ms. Knowles would definitely be the home run choice for Grammy producers to lead their tribute.

So if you’re an enterprising babysitter in the downtown Manhattan area, don’t be shy to offer Bey and Jay your services. We bet they have a really nice television.

4. Will anyone beat out Nicki Minaj for Funniest Pronunciation of “Bon Iver”?
Between Justin Vernon’s nominations for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist, at least three different people are going to have to read the name “Bon Iver” aloud. Can anyone match the combination of surprise, confusion and Queens accent with which Nicki Minaj read the artist’s name at the Grammy Nominations Concert? We’re guessing no, though if reported presenter Gwenyth Paltrow ends up reading one of them, all bets are off.

5. Which Nicki Minaj will show up?
Barbie Minaj
? Robot Minaj? Female Weezy Minaj? Roman Zolanski (Minaj)? With Lady Gaga looking to possibly take a breather from the Grammys this year—more on her in a bit—Nicki is now the ceremony’s most unpredictable performer, and we’d believe just about any rumor we heard about what she was planning for Sunday. We just hope it involves some amount of “Super Bass.”

6. Is Skrillex gonna, like, dress up?
We can only assume that America’s dubstep darling will be in attendance on Sunday, and we’re more than a little intrigued to see whether the producer will maintain his punk/underground roots and go grungy with it, or whether he’ll take this opportunity to represent for dance by cleaning up a little. What if he came with his trademark hair completely shorn off, with just his glasses and a five o’clock shadow? There’s no telling what kind of seismic shifts in our culture that could result in.

7. Who will win Best New Artist?
Speaking of Bon Iver (and Nicki Minaj and Skrillex), while the Best New Artist category is probably his/their best chance at actually walking home with an award, it’s still a pretty open race, with just about any of the artists nominated being able to make a case for the win. Nicki Minaj is obviously the most commercially successful, J. Cole has some of the best industry backing (having Jay-Z in your corner is always a good start), The Band Perry are the most conventionally Grammyish, Bon Iver has the most other big nominations, and Skrillex…well, there’s never really any telling with Skillex, is there? Who would’ve guessed he could even scare up a nomination?

8. Who will be this year’s Mumford and Sons?
Despite having no obvious point of comparison on last year’s Billboard charts (or any other year’s for that matter), Mumford and Offspring ran a well-timed Grammys performance last year to a couple million copies sold of their Sigh No More album, ultimately benefiting more from the ceremonies than even Album of the Year winners (Who The F— Are) The Arcade Fire did. Will another up-and-coming artist strike platinum with a performance at this year’s awards? If so, it’s probably not any of the previously announced performers, nearly all of whom are too previously established to be helped out all that much be Another Grammys Performance. (Though maybe it’s not too late for Paul McCartney to have his “Believe” or “Smooth”-type late-career renaissance. Stranger things have happened, maybe.)

9. Will the Foo Fighters again be rock’s greatest representatives?
They certainly wouldn’t want to hear it, but nothing has represented rock’s stagnancy as a genre these last 12 months than the way the mediocre-for-a-decade Foo Fighters have been, by some distance, the genre’s most visible representatives, topping the rock charts for 28 (!!!) of 52 possible weeks in 2011, winning Best Rock Video at the VMAs, and now being the only rock album nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammys. If they own the rock categories again here, along with performing—or worse, if they somehow stage an Album of the Year upset—it might take a long time for the genre to recover.

10. Will we finally be able to remember what song Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own” reminds us of?
With Bruce and the E Street Band—minus Clarence, sadly—due to perform on Sunday, we’ll undoubtedly get a run through new single “We Take Care Of Our Own,” a song that’s driven us half-mad by reminding us of a very specific song tha twe just can’t put our finger on. (Pepper us with your suggestions if you want, but we’ve already gone through about all of ‘em—Lightning Seeds’ “Life of Riley,” Lifehouse’s “First Time,” even A Flock of Seagulls’ “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)“—and none of ‘em are quite right.) But you never know which listen will finally cause the lightbulb to go on for us, so we’ll be listening with rapt attention just in case.

11. Will Kanye West cancel himself out?
Most people would probably have guessed Adele, but it’s actually Kanye West who’s the most nominated artist at this year’s Grammys—problem for ‘Yeezy is, a bunch of those nominations come in overlapping categories. The 14-time Grammy winner (holy shit, that’s a lot of Grammys) is nominated twice for both Best Rap Song (“All of the Lights” and The Throne’s “Otis”) and Best Rap Album (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Watch The Throne), possibly splitting the vote and hurting his chances of winning at either. His best chance at winning might come with “All of the Lights” for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, just because at least 25% of the category’s voting poll was probably featured on the song in some capacity.

For the final ten questions, about such heavy-hitters as Taylor Swift, Chris Brown and Chris O’Donnell, hit NEXT.

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