It's the biggest day of the year for the music industry, the sonic version of the Academy Awards. That's right, it's the day of the Grammys, which will wisely feature Jon Stewart at the helm when the curtain goes up at Los Angeles' Staples Center. While there are no shoo-ins this year, no Santanas, Celine Dions or Lauryn Hills — unless you consider Eminem a sure thing — it can't hurt to take a look at several high-profile categories and find out where the contenders rank. Of course, big sales never guarantee a walk to the podium.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP is an unlikely favorite here but is by far and away the winner on the charts. Currently sitting at No. 62, the album has sold more than 8.1 million copies in the United States. But here's the amazing thing — not one of the other nominees has sold a million copies in the States. Really. The closest is Steely Dan's Two Against Nature, which isn't currently charting, with U.S. sales of just more than 800,000. Radiohead's Kid A, this week's No. 140, has sold 750,000. Beck's Midnite Vultures (also not in the Top 200) has sold just 615,000, while its predecessor, the Grammy-winning Odelay, sold more than two million. Lastly, Paul Simon's You're the One, occupying the No. 197 slot, has sold 393,000 copies.
RECORD OF THE YEAR: This field is considerably more competitive from a sales perspective, though again there's one nominee way out in front. That, of course, would be 'N Sync, which is nominated for "Bye, Bye, Bye," from No Strings Attached. The album, which has sold more than 10.2 million copies in the United States, is currently at No. 38. Destiny's Child's The Writing's on the Wall, which contains the nominated single "Say My Name," has sold more than 5.5 million copies and currently resides at No. 66. One of last year's Best New Artist nominees, Macy Gray's "I Try" appears on On How Life Is, which has sold more than 3 million copies and is the farthest down on the charts at Grammy time, sitting at No. 165. And neck and neck on the charts right now are Madonna's Music (nominated song: "Music") and U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind (nominated song: "Beautiful Day"), at No. 34 and No. 35, respectively. Madonna, who finally earned Grammy praise a year ago, has sold 2.1 million copies of her latest, while U2, no stranger to Grammy victories, has sold 1.9 copies of its new one.
SONG OF THE YEAR: Three of the above nominees are up for this one, too: Macy Gray, Destiny's Child, and U2. Destiny's Child has a slight sales edge over Faith Hill, who is nominated for the title track to Breathe, this week's No. 31, with total sales of more than 5.1 million. The title track to Lee Ann Womack's I Hope You Dance is also up for the award, having sold more than 1.1 million and currently sitting at No. 56.
BEST NEW ARTIST: Sisqo and Unleash the Dragon are the clear winners when it comes to sales. Though the album isn't in the Top 200 at the moment, it's sold more than 4 million copies. Papa Roach has sold 2.8 million copies of Infest, which resides at No. 105, while Jill Scott's debut album is about to cross the million sales mark at No. 22. Brad Paisley's Who Needs Pictures has sold 663,000 copies, and Shelby Lynne (hardly a new artist) has sold 165,000 copies of I Am Shelby Lynne.
We now return to your regularly scheduled Chart Watch.