Record of the Year
Beyoncé ft. Jay-Z, "Crazy in Love"; Black Eyed Peas ft. Justin Timberlake, "Where Is the Love"; Coldplay, "Clocks"; Eminem, "Lose Yourself"; OutKast, "Hey Ya!"
Michaelangelo Matos: This list of nominees is actually pretty good.
Laura Cassidy: I'm gonna go with "Hey Ya!" [To Matos] You don't like that song, do you?
Matos: I don't hate it, but ...
Cassidy: You're not as enraptured as everyone else?
Matos: Yeah. It just seems very much like a standard indie-rock song—it belongs on a Frank Black solo album.
Andrew Bonazelli: But to everyone else, that song is universal. So was "Lose Yourself"—not one person doesn't know that song. But "Hey Ya!" seemed to galvanize everyone.
Matos: I would not be surprised if Coldplay won.
Cassidy: In that category?!
Matos: I'm not talking about in terms of my own taste, although I like that song. I'm talking about maybe the rap vote will get split by four records and the rock thing wins.
Bonazelli: Wait, wasn't it last year they proved they weren't square?
Matos: I think they've been proving they aren't square for a while now. Without question, the nominees have gotten better in the last few years. They're never gonna nominate everything I like, but that's not their function. There will be no German Minimalist Techno category, which is fine.
Album of the Year
Missy Elliott, Under Construction; Evanescence, Fallen; OutKast, Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below; Justin Timberlake, Justified; the White Stripes, Elephant
Bonazelli: How did Elephant get nominated so much? Two for two— that's insane.
Matos: No, you're thinking of the Black Eyed Peas' album, Elephunk. Different title.
Bonazelli: Keep drinkin'!
Cassidy: Bartender! [To Matos]
Bonazelli: This category, there's no shot that Evanescence win. There's no shot that Missy wins, because that seems too much like a 2002 album.
Matos: Elephant I don't think has a shot at it, although that would be a really interesting upset. But I think it'll be either Justin or OutKast.
Bonazelli: I'd say OutKast. Justin's album isn't that consistent.
Cassidy: But the OutKast album is a little bit complicated—it's so immense. And that's in its favor, I think.
Bonazelli: More so than Justin—I mean, MJ 2003.
Matos: Partly, it's just more that people are, like, "I really love one disc or the other." What's surprised me is that it is one or the other. It's not just the Andre 3000 record. I've seen just as many people who say they like the Big Boi record more.
Bonazelli: Everybody wants to cut out the filler in that album and make their ideal single album out of that. No other album generates that much discussion.
Song of the Year
Linda Perry, "Beautiful" (Christina Aguilera, performer); Richard Marx and Luther Vandross, "Dance With My Father" (Vandross); Avril Lavigne and the Matrix, "I'm With You" (Lavigne); Jorge Calderón and Warren Zevon, "Keep Me in Your Heart" (Zevon); J. Bass, M. Mathers, and L. Resto, "Lose Yourself" (Eminem)
Matos: [Reading nominees list] ... Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" ...
Bonazelli: [Fart noise]
Matos: I like that song.
Bonazelli: That song's affirming, right? The hot chick telling you that it's OK to be ugly?
Cassidy: Hot chick?!
Bonazelli: Like, Maxim hot.
Cassidy: We'll talk about that later.
Matos: Let's talk about it now.
Cassidy: Christina Aguilera is so disgusting.
Bonazelli: To you. I'm saying Maxim hot. As a heterosexual male, I find her disgusting. But I'm saying up here in chicken-wing land, in Maxim-reader land, she's considered hot. Linda Perry—I didn't even know she wrote that song. That's amazing. It must be a lot of work, huh?
Matos: Actually, I don't remember the Avril song—is that a ballad?
Bonazelli: Yeah, it's a power ballad.
Matos: So what they mean is Power Ballad of the Year. Because "Lose Yourself" is a power ballad.
Bonazelli: "Lose Yourself" is the most memorable just by virtue of the fact that the competition is dreadful. Well, I mean, not dreadful but ...
Matos: I'd say it's dreadful. I mean, if you're talking about the best-written song of the year and you come up with that list, your priorities are fucked.
Bonazelli: "Lose Yourself" is one of Eminem's most poorly written songs. The lyrics are—I hate songs or lyrics that are intentionally inspiring or motivating.
Cassidy: I wouldn't be surprised if that Luther Vandross song [wins], because of that intentional sentimentality.
Matos: That's Vandross' stock in trade, but you've got to figure he's in the hospital, he's in a coma, and then Warren Zevon is actually dead, so that's pretty stiff competition.
Cassidy: Repeat that for the tape recorder?
Matos: No pun intended.
Best New Artist
Evanescence, 50 Cent, Fountains of Wayne, Heather Headley, Sean Paul
Cassidy: 50 Cent!
Matos: Fountains of Wayne are, like, on their third album.
Cassidy: How is that a new act?
Bonazelli: They have a song on the radio finally.
Matos: 50. [Pause] I don't know, though, because Evanescence has an Album of the Year nod. They're just gonna get shut out of every category that isn't rock.
Bonazelli: I would hope so. It's like they're gonna be the modern-rock rep in all of these.
Matos: It's like the big Grammy categories are constrained to include rock, when it's pretty much obvious that mainstream rock sucks right now.
Bonazelli: Good point, but Evanescence has major crossover appeal.
Matos: I don't doubt that, but I'm talking about in terms of these nominations. It's like, hip-hop, hip-hop, hip-hop— and Evanescence.
Bonazelli: But [a band like] U2 is not in the same boat as Evanescence.
Matos: U2 are just massive. They'll win whatever category they're in just because they're U2. Compared to that, Evanescence is somewhat of an unknown quantity, however big they are right now.
Cassidy: Evanescence isn't, like, feeding Ethiopians or anything.
Matos: There's that, too.
Best Metal Performance
Korn, "Did My Time"; Marilyn Manson, "mOBSCENE"; Metallica, "St. Anger"; Spineshank, "Smothered"; Stone Sour, "Inhaled"
Bonazelli: Metallica all the way. It doesn't even matter what Metallica does. It doesn't matter how contrived that album was—that's Metallica and Korn's category, and the Korn song's just a B-side.
Best alternative Rock album
The Flaming Lips, Fight Test; Radiohead, Hail to the Thief; Sigur Rós, ( ); the White Stripes, Elephant; Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell
Matos: [Reading] . . . Sigur Rós—it says "untitled," but it's actually called [cups both hands in midair].
Cassidy: Something Icelandic?
Matos: It's a pair of parentheses.
Bonazelli: That's so pretentious.
Matos: It's Sigur Rós—that's their job. And speaking of pretentious, the last two nominees are the Flaming Lips and Radiohead.
Bonazelli: Does Radiohead ever lose when they're nominated? Wait a second—how did Hail to the Thief fail to get nominated for album of the year?
Matos: Hip-hop exists. Elephant's gonna win this category in an obvious way.
Best R&B Album
Erykah Badu, Worldwide Underground; Blu Cantrell, Bittersweet; Aretha Franklin, So Damn Happy; the Isley Brothers, Body Kiss; Luther Vandross, Dance With My Father
Best Contemporary R&B Album
Ashanti, Chapter II; Beyoncé, Dangerously in Love; Mary J. Blige, Love and Life; Anthony Hamilton, Comin' From Where I'm From; R. Kelly, Chocolate Factory
Matos: What's interesting is that Best R&B Album and Best Contemporary R&B Album are separate categories.
Matos: It seems like they're trying to designate post-hip-hop R&B and pre- hip-hop R&B, yet the Anthony Hamilton record is basically this neo-soul record—old-fashioned, like, "We're using real instruments." So that makes no sense to me.
Bonazelli: R. Kelly has to win something, right?
Cassidy: Why does he have to?
Matos: He pretty much owned radio this year. If it wasn't 50 Cent or Jay-Z, it was R. Kelly. And the thing is, it's a great record. It's easily the best album of that list. But he isn't gonna win. He's an accused child molester.
Bonazelli: Did you hear about Mystikal getting arrested?
Cassidy: For child molestation?
Matos: No, he didn't molest children, he just sexually assaulted his hairdresser and videotaped it, because he's really smart, and a really smart person does things like that.
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
(For a rap/sung collaborative performance by artists who do not normally perform together)
Beyoncé ft. Jay-Z, "Crazy in Love"; Black Eyed Peas ft. Justin Timberlake, "Where Is the Love"; L.L. Cool J ft. Marc Dorsey, "Luv U Better"; Pharrell Williams ft. Jay-Z, "Frontin'"; Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell and Uncle Charlie Wilson, "Beautiful"
Matos: There's all these convoluted award names, trying to account for all these collaborations that have taken place in hip-hop and R&B.
Bonazelli: Is that entire category name gonna be read on the show?
Matos: Oh, you know it is. That's gonna be the best thing about the Grammys—watching Lil' Kim standing up there with one nipple covered with, like, a daisy, reading the whole thing in a monotone.
Bonazelli: While Ashton Kutcher's trying to tongue kiss her.
Cassidy: I like that: "By artists who do not normally perform together." Only on special occasions.
Matos: Yeah, like bar mitzvahs. [Reading] "Crazy in Love" . . .
Cassidy: Wait—I thought it was artists who don't normally perform together.
Matos: Beyoncé and Jay-Z usually don't perform together.
Cassidy: Oh, we're talking about outside of bedrooms.
Matos: [Reading] . . . Snoop Dogg, "Beautiful" . . .
Cassidy: Oh yeah, I vote for that one.
Cassidy: Yeah, I love that.
Bonazelli: I just have to say this: Yesterday, a friend said that Snoop's career is basically like Weekend at Bernie's right now: Pharrell's propping him up and carrying him around.
Cassidy: That AOL commercial he did was like, "Buddy, you needed the money for that? What are you doing?" It's really quite tragic.
Best Rap Album
(For albums containing 51 percent or more playing time of VOCAL tracks)
Missy Elliott, Under Construction; 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin'; Jay-Z, The Blueprint?—The Gift and the Curse; Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below; the Roots, Phrenology
Matos: OK, this is what confuses me: Wouldn't a rap album have to contain 51 percent rapping in it? Rapping is a vocal skill; it's not something you do with your hands.
Bonazelli: Yeah, not too many five-minute instrumental dirges in that one.
Matos: Unless you're the Roots, maybe. The winner's gonna be OutKast.
Bonazelli: Doesn't it seem like Missy should win something, though?
Matos: She should win something. "Is she going to?" is another question.
Cassidy: So are we thinking OutKast is gonna sweep?
Matos: I wouldn't be too surprised if they did sweep, but I think it's gonna be more like across the board. Though last year, funnily enough, I actually predicted the Norah Jones sweep. I thought, "The only reason she's nominated for all those categories is that she's gonna win them."
Producer of the Year
Nigel Godrich (Radiohead); Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (Mya, Beyoncé, et al.); the Matrix (Liz Phair, Hillary Duff, et al.); the Neptunes (Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, et al.); OutKast (Killer Mike, OutKast)
Bonazelli: How could the Neptunes lose that?
Matos: Obviously, the Neptunes should get it. But you know what? I bet the Matrix does.
Bonazelli: You're kidding.
Matos: They'll give it to them for Avril Lavigne, even though she's not one of the people they're nominated for. They had enough juice, enough chart muscle, everybody is following suit, and I think that's something that'll be paid tribute to.
Bonazelli: But that [Avril] album fucking sucks after like four songs—that's the incredible thing. After four songs, it's like a trash heap.
Best Rock Song
Evanescence ft. Paul McCoy, "Bring Me to Life"; Train, "Calling All Angels"; Warren Zevon ft. Bruce Springsteen, "Disorder in the House"; the White Stripes, "Seven Nation Army"; Nickelback, "Someday"
Matos: [Reading] ... "Calling All Angels" by Train ...
Cassidy: That's a rock song?
Matos: ... "Disorder in the House" by Warren Zevon and Bruce Springsteen ...
Cassidy: Oh, God!
Bonazelli: You know that?
Cassidy: No, but it's, like, one and a half dead people. I mean, I like some Bruce Springsteen songs, but come on.
Bonazelli: I don't know why Nickelback isn't nominated for all of these categories. I hope Nickelback slaughters everyone they come into competition with. That's not my objective opinion, but I hope they fucking destroy the White Stripes and all these other bands. I mean, it's not going to happen, but ...
Matos: Why do you want that to happen? 'Cause you're a smartass?
Bonazelli: They impress me in a way that I can't quite verbalize. Let me just defer to the words "deeply touching." I can't believe they're even nominated— I mean, that's astonishing to me.
Matos: You're rooting for the underdog- cum-overdog, aren't you? They're so overdog they're almost the underdog. They're such a behemoth that they have to be nominated.
Bonazelli: I hope so. I hope they've already ascertained that status after two albums.
Matos: I have to ask: Who is Paul McCoy?
Bonazelli: Paul McCoy is the vocalist from this crazy Christian rock band, 12 Stones, and he's the one who does the "Wake me up," you know, he's the one who adds the kind of flavor to it.
Matos: So he's the hook man, like when a hip-hop song has a hook girl?
Bonazelli: Yeah, he's a hook man—that's what he is.