12. Will Taylor Swift Finally Be Denied?
Last time Taylor released an album—2009′s Fearless—she got nominated for eight Grammys and won four of them, including album of the year. Since then, she’s seemingly won at least one award at every major award show—including a couple that had nothing to do with music, probably. But this year Taylor got shut out of the Big Four categories, and only scared up three nominations total, for Best Country Solo Performance, Best Country Song (both “Mean”) and Best Country Album (Speak Now)—in which she’s going up against such other potential Grammy heavy-hitters as Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum. Could this finally be the year that Taylor retires the Oh My Gosh You Guys I Can’t Believe I Won face and breaks out the Oh My Gosh You Guys I Lost and You Are All Going to Die face? Exciting.
13. What will LL Cool J to prove that he’s “still got it?”
As a 43-year-old award-show host no longer representing Queens, but rather, a TV station watched by only a handful of people under the age of 65, James Todd Smith will undoubtedly have to do something to show that he’s still LL From the Block. We just hope that it’s in the form of a high-spirited version of “Mama Said Knock You Out” which changes the lyrics to be about the nominees and such. “Adele makin’ tears rain down like a monsoon / Listen to her heart go BOOM!”
14. Will we get to see Chris O’Donnell rap (or at least beatbox)?
No chance in hell that LL’s NCIS: LA co-star gets shut out of the proceedings—the question is just if he will be shoehorned into an awkward sketch where he has to prove to his cooler cohort that he can get down with the best of ‘em. Let’s put it this way: We wouldn’t bet against it.
15. Will we hear from Lady Gaga at all?
This time last year, with Gaga set to release the biggest album of 2011 and days away from delivering one of the most-hyped performances in recent Grammy history, no way would you believe that she’d be so completely overshadowed at this year’s ceremonies by a pale, reclusive British woman. But indeed, Gaga is a very distant #2 this year, if even that, and without an announced performance or a likely win in any category—she’s only up for three awards, and all three are heavily favored to be Atkins’d—who knows if we’ll even see all that much of her this year? Call it a passing of the torch or just an off year, but it’s gonna be very hard for Gaga to steal Adele or anyone else’s thunder this year.
16. Why the hell was Jack Black invited?
Seriously, guys. Tenacious D’s first album was 11 years ago, School of Rock seven years—even The Pick of Destiny is a half-decade old now. How long do we have to keep pretending this guy is at all musically relevant (or funny, for that matter)?
17. Does Chris Brown stand a chance against the old folks?
Look at the nominees for Best R&B Album and see if one of ‘em doesn’t stand out the tiniest bit. Chris Brown is the only nominee who wasn’t already of legal drinking age when the award was first introduced in 1995, going up against genre vets like Kelly Price, R. Kelly and (seriously?) El DeBarge. Needless to say, Chris is the most commercially successful and contemporarily (totally a word) relevant of the artists nominated, but when the award has gone to the young’ns in the past, it’s been more traditionally soulful artists like Alicia Keys, India Arie and D’Angelo, rather than an explicit pop crossover artist like Young Breezy. (Indeed, Brown has never won a Grammy in his eight times nominated, so he probably faces an uphill battle with this one.)
18. Does Tony Bennett stand a chance against the kids?
Bennett has won 15 Grammys over the course of his illustrious 132-year career in popular music, but to add a 16th to his mantle in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category, he’ll have to hope that the kiddies can’t hang in the deep end. His and Amy Winehouse’s “Body and Soul” packs all the prestige you could ask for from a Grammy nominee, but will have to defeat a couple megahits in Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera’s “Moves Like Jagger” and Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” (both shut out in the major categories), as well as a couple more critically acclaimed artists in Coldplay’s “Paradise’ and Black Keys’ “Dearest.” You can probably rule out the Keys, but it’d be a major victory for the AARP set if Tony could take down the other three. Then again, they probably said the same thing in 1995 when Tony when Album of the Year for MTV Unplugged at the tender age of 69, so maybe it’s best not to bet against the kid.
19. Will anyone flip the bird live on stage?
Maybe better not to invite M.I.A., just in case. She’s incorrigible, that one.
20. What songs will Adele play in her performance?
Adele has options like few other artists when it comes to which songs she wants to own the Grammys with. Does she go with proven award-show favorite “Someone Like You,” with which she nearly stole the VMAs away from preggo Beyoncé? Most recent single “Set Fire to the Rain,” which has a pretty good chance of being the #1 song in the country at the time of her performance? Maybe a new single (say oh I don’t know RUMOUR HAS IT), using the performance as a launching pad for her potential fourth #1? Or does she just go classic with it, and play the song that’s nominated for all the awards, the song that everyone wants to hear just one more damn time, “Rolling in the Deep”? Or does she sign on for the Etta James tribute instead, and duet with Flo Rida on a cover of “Good Feeling”?
Our guess: The first verse of “Set Fire,” leading into the entirety of “Deep.” (Maybe even interrupting the “So I set fiii-re” part of the “Set Fire” chorus with the introductory “There’s aaaa fiii-iiire” part of “Deep”—pretty sneaky, sis.)
21. Is Adele really gonna win it all?