Will Long-Overdue Grammys Come Their Way at Last?

Overlooked:"Tom Sawyer" from 1981's "Moving Pictures," remains inescapable on classic rock radio. "Freewill" is the highlight of 1980's colossus "Permanent Waves." And 1982's adventurous "Signals" found the band moving from sci-fi to the scarier themes of real life.

George Strait

Why he's overdue: Strait's rise in the '80s resurrected traditional country and honky-tonk, seeding a new generation. He's amassed a staggering number of hits, holding the record for the most No. 1s on Billboard's hot country songs chart. With 37 gold, 32 platinum and 13 multiplatinum albums, he's the 11th top-selling artist of all time.

Win or lose?: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss will crush his duet shots, but Strait is a shoo-in for country album. "It was a No. 1 pop album," Grein says. Strait also may take country vocal, "though Brad Paisley is at the peak of his career."

Overlooked: 1982's "Strait From the Heart" sums up his strengths in slow-burning two-steps, honky-tonk tunes and barrelhouse struts. The pure country of 1989's "Beyond the Blue Neon" underscored his virtuosity.

Neil Young

Why he's overdue: He has been a consistent influence and force in music since he burst to prominence with Buffalo Springfield in the mid-'60s. Prolific, restless, inventive and fearlessly independent, Young roamed from rock and folk to rockabilly, country and electronica while waves of fresh recruits followed him down each new trail.

Win or lose?: Though he's ripe for a makeup win, Young will lose to the beloved ex-Beatle, "who's doing a song every voter knows," Grein says. "John Mayer is a Grammy magnet, and Springsteen is always popular."

Overlooked: His deep catalog of classic hits and idiosyncratic wonders includes 1969's guitar-saturated "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere," 1972's emotional "Harvest," 1979's bold "Rust Never Sleeps," 1989's seething "Freedom" and 1990's uplifting "Ragged Glory."

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