Red Carpet Rolls Out for Grammy Awards

Unlike the Oscars, where it's all about the awards, the Grammys are all about the superstar performances, the big over-the-top tributes and the "Grammy moments" (remember Eminem's duet with Elton John?). The 2006 edition promises all of the above, but the theme for Wednesday night's show might be "Keepin' It Real (Safe)"

Music's biggest night kicks off tonight with a "mash-up" featuring the Material Mom Madonna accompanied by the Gorillaz, the animated virtual band nominated for four Grammys, including the coveted record of the year.

The lineup of performers, which is sure to generate ratings, encompasses a who's who in the pantheon of contemporary music, including Mariah Carey, whose comeback disc, "The Emancipation of Mimi," was the best-selling album of 2005 and was rewarded with eight nominations, including album, record and song of the year.

Mimi is tied with rapper-producer Kanye West (who was last year's top nominee with 10 nods) and R&B singer John Legend. They will join Bruce Springsteen (five nominations, including song of the year), Coldplay (three nominations, including best rock song), U2 and Mary J Blige, Faith Hill and Keith Urban, Christina Aguilera and Herbie Hancock, Jamie Foxx with Kanye West, and what promises to be the "water cooler moment," the all-star tribute to Sly And The Family Stone featuring Maroon 5, Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas, Robert Randolph, and Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith.

First-time performers include 13-time Grammy winner Sir Paul McCartney who's nominated for album of the year, best pop vocal album and best male vocal performance, and multiple nominee and former "American Idol" champ, Kelly Clarkson, who network executives are hoping will attract the 35 million people following "American Idol."

This year, the nominations contain 108 categories but the most important ones that will have lasting value (i.e. next day sales increase) are: record of the year, album of the year, song of the year and best new artist. Below is a list of the nominees and my picks:

Record of the Year

"We Belong Together" - Mariah Carey
"Feel Good, Inc." - Gorillaz
"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" - Green Day
"Hollaback Girl" - Gwen Stefani
"Gold Digger" - Kanye West

2005 was undoubtedly Mariah Carey's year thanks in part to the massive success of the smash ballad "We Belong Together" -- the year's longest-running No. 1 with 14 weeks atop the charts. Despite being the best-selling female solo act in history, Mariah has only won two Grammys and voters will make amends by giving her an armful of trophies this year.

Fellow eight-Grammy nominee Kanye West poses the greatest challenge with "Gold Digger," a track that spent 10 weeks at No. 1, thus solidifying his status as hip hop's musical genius. Mariah and Kanye's combined 16 nominations (15 percent of the total nominations) is an impressive number in today's volume-related society, and this is a fact that will not be overlooked by Grammy voters.

Album of the Year

"The Emancipation of Mimi" - Mariah Carey
"Chaos and Creation in the Backyard" - Paul McCartney
"Love. Angel. Music. Baby." - Gwen Stefani
"How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" - U2
"Late Registration" - Kanye West

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