Picks of the Pack

February 13, 2005|By Rashod D. Ollison | Rashod D. Ollison,Sun Pop Music Critic

The 47th Grammy Awards nominations better reflect what kinds of music people actually listened to than in years past. That's a good thing; it proves that the members of the Recording Academy have a pulse. Although Kanye West's impressive debut, College Dropout, didn't get a lot of air play, it refreshed hip-hop and became a double-platinum hit, appearing on numerous best-of-2004 lists. All eyes will be on the Chicago rapper-producer, who leads the pack with 10 nominations. Although predicting winners is always tricky, here are my favorites in this year's major award categories.

-- Rashod D. Ollison

RECORD OF THE YEAR

Nominations:

"Let's Get It Started," The Black Eyed Peas

"Here We Go Again," Ray Charles and Norah Jones

"American Idiot," Green Day

"Heaven," Los Lonely Boys

"Yeah!" Usher featuring Lil' Jon and Ludacris.

Rashod's Pick: "Yeah!" The song brought the crunk sound to the masses last year. It was fun and immediate, capturing the escapist spirit of 2004.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Nominations:

Genius Loves Company, Ray Charles and Various Artists

American Idiot, Green Day

The Diary of Alicia Keys, Alicia Keys

Confessions, Usher

College Dropout, Kanye West.

Rashod's Pick: Green Day, American Idiot. One of the more ambitious and accessible albums of last year. But I wouldn't be surprised if Ray Charles wins. Ray, the movie based on his life, was a box-office smash, receiving multiple Oscar nominations, and Genius Loves Company went multi- platinum. Too bad the man didn't live long enough to enjoy this sudden career resurgence.

SONG OF THE YEAR

Nominations:

"Daughters," John Mayer (performed by John Mayer)

"If I Ain't Got You," Alicia Keys (Alicia Keys)

"Jesus Walks," C. Smith and Kanye West (Kanye West)

"Live Like You Were Dying," Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman (Tim McGraw)

"The Reason," Daniel Estrin and Douglas Robb (Hoobastank).

Rashod's Pick: "If I Ain't Got You," Alicia Keys. This soulful, retro ballad recalls some of the open-hearted, down-to-earth gems Carole King used to write.

BEST R&B ALBUM

Nominations:

My Everything, Anita Baker

I Can't Stop, Al Green

The Diary of Alicia Keys, Alicia Keys

Musicology, Prince

Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2, Jill Scott.

Rashod's Pick: Beautifully Human, Words and Sounds Vol. 2, Jill Scott. I doubt this record will win, but lyrically it's the best album in the bunch, showcasing Scott as one of the smartest songwriters in modern soul.

BEST NEW ARTIST

Nominations:

Los Lonely Boys

Maroon 5

Joss Stone

Kanye West

Gretchen Wilson.

Rashod's Pick: Gretchen Wilson. This award seldom goes to the most obvious pick, which would be West in this case. However, Wilson also had a critically and commercially successful debut this year. It's between Stone or Wilson. But my money's on the new country chick.

BEST POP ALBUM

Nominations:

Feels Like Home, Norah Jones

Genius Loves Company, Ray Charles and Various Artists

Afterglow, Sarah McLachlan

Mind, Body & Soul, Joss Stone

Brian Wilson Presents Smile, Brian Wilson

Rashod's Pick: Ray Charles, Genius Loves Company. If he doesn't get album of the year, the late legend may win this category for the uneven but sometimes touching album released after his death.

BEST RAP ALBUM

Nominations:

To the 5 Boroughs, the Beastie Boys

The Black Album, Jay-Z

The DEFinition, LL Cool J

Suit, Nelly

College Dropout, Kanye West

Rashod's Pick: Kanye West, College Dropout. The most engaging record nominated in this slot.

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM

Nominations:

Van Lear Rose, Loretta Lynn

Live Like You Were Dying, Tim McGraw

Tambourine, Tift Merritt

Be Here, Keith Urban

Here for the Party, Gretchen Wilson

Rashod's Pick: Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose. The best country album to come out last year. Too bad that not enough people heard it.

BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM

Nominations:

Medulla, Bjork

Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand

Uh Huh Her, PJ Harvey

Good News For People Who Love Bad News, Modest Mouse

A Ghost is Born, Wilco

Rashod's Pick: Medulla, Bjork. The Icelandic artist always pushes the boundaries, creating brilliantly imaginative soundscapes along the way.

BEST ROCK ALBUM

Nominations:

The Delivery Man, Elvis Costello and the Imposters

American Idiot, Green Day

The Reason, Hooba-stank

Hot Fuss, The Killers

Contraband, Velvet Revolver

Rashod's Pick: Green Day, American Idiot. Hands down, the best rock album of 2004.

To see a complete list of nominees in more than 100 categories, and for other Grammys coverage, go online to baltimoresun. com / grammys.

Tune in

What: The 47th Grammy Awards

Time: 8 p.m.

Station: CBS, WJZ, Channel 13

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