The first time OutKast was nominated for best album at the Grammys, in 2002, hip-hop’s eclectic duo was overshadowed by Eminem’s controversy and Steely Dan’s eventual surprise win.
This year, the rap funksters are nominated for a leading six awards, including best album, for their dazzling double disc, “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.” But also nominated for six Grammys are Beyonce, her beau Jay-Z and producer-singer-hipster Pharrell Williams.
Will OutKast end up outcasts at the Feb. 8 ceremony? The Associated Press predicts the future for the entire Grammy pack:
1. RECORD OF THE YEAR. Nominees: “Crazy in Love,” Beyonce featuring Jay-Z; “Where Is the Love?” Black Eyed Peas and Justin Timberlake; “Clocks,” Coldplay; “Lose Yourself,” Eminem; “Hey Ya!,” OutKast.
Moody: It was hard to imagine a more ubiquitous 2003 song than “Crazy in Love” ... until “Hey Ya!” Though it’s been played to death by now, “Hey Ya!” will win because 1) OutKast are critical darlings and Grammy faves; 2) it won over young and old, black and white, rock and rap; and 3) Grammy voters will be impressed that a rap act could expertly pull off a Beatlesque tune and lime-green fashion.
Bauder: Hard to argue with you, since “Hey Ya” has crossed the line from hit song to cultural phenomenon. But I will, anyway. No other category better illustrates this year’s Grammy takeover by the hip-hop generation. Coldplay is the only choice for voters threatened by this, and it’s a good song, too. My hunch is that Beyonce and OutKast will cancel each other out, and Coldplay slips in.
2. ALBUM OF THE YEAR: “Under Construction,” Missy Elliott; “Fallen,” Evanescence; “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” OutKast; “Justified,” Justin Timberlake; “Elephant,” The White Stripes.
Bauder: OutKast, easily. Timberlake has some support in this category, and the White Stripes topped most rock publications’ year-end polls, but OutKast was a critical and commercial behemoth.
Moody: Except for Evanescence — how did they get in this category? — all are strong contenders, with Missy and OutKast the strongest. But OutKast’s daring album will take them over the top here.
3. SONG OF THE YEAR: “Beautiful,” written by Linda Perry (performed by Christina Aguilera); “Dance With My Father,” Richard Marx and Luther Vandross (Luther Vandross); “I’m With You,” Avril Lavigne and The Matrix (Avril Lavigne); “Keep Me in Your Heart,” Jorge Calderon and Warren Zevon (Warren Zevon); “Lose Yourself,” J. Bass, M. Mathers and L. Resto (Eminem).
Moody: Eminem can’t seem to win in the major categories. His bad luck will continue this year because voters will have two artists pulling at their heartstrings. Zevon recorded his song as he was dying of lung cancer, and Vandross suffered a bad stroke. Although Zevon’s dead, Vandross will win because he’s recovering, the album was the fastest seller of his career, it’s the R&B legend’s first nomination in a major category — AND the song is a heart-tugger.
Bauder: Death is a tough career move to beat, and props to Warren Zevon for a terrific song. But not enough people heard it. “Dance With My Father” is the tearjerker du jour.
4. NEW ARTIST: Evanescence; 50 Cent; Fountains of Wayne; Heather Headley; Sean Paul.
Moody: 50 Cent had the year’s biggest album, the hottest singles, he made mincemeat of Ja Rule and has been shot nine times — do YOU want to tell him he’s not winning this category?
Bauder: 50 Cent wins. Though they’re a hopeless case here, a salute to the terrific Fountains of Wayne.
5. POP VOCAL ALBUM: “Stripped,” Christina Aguilera; “Brainwashed,” George Harrison; “Bare,” Annie Lennox; “Motown,” Michael McDonald; “Justified,” Justin Timberlake.
Bauder: Going up against a dead Beatle — with a fine posthumous album, no less — may seem awfully tough. But this is the category where Justin Timberlake is saluted for making the transition from teen pop star to respected artist.
Moody: It’s a justifiable win for Timberlake, a critical and commercial favorite.
6. ROCK ALBUM: “Audioslave,” Audioslave; “Fallen,” Evanescence; “One by One,” Foo Fighters; “More Than You Think You Are,” matchbox twenty; “The Long Road,” Nickelback.
Bauder: Call me a cranky old man, but no list of nominees better illustrates rock’s decline. Foo Fighters are the best of the lot, but Grammy voters won’t be able to ignore Evanescence’s breakout success.
Moody: I agree with cranky.
7. RAP ALBUM: “Under Construction,” Missy Elliott; “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” 50 Cent; “The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse,” Jay-Z; “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” OutKast; “Phrenology,” The Roots.
Moody: Despite all the hoopla over OutKast’s trippy double album, Elliott’s disc was the real head trip, but it came out too long ago for anyone to remember it was the better album. OutKast will triumph over Elliott and 50 Cent, despite his multiplatinum disc.
Bauder: I love Missy, but it’s hard to believe Grammy voters will choose OutKast as the album of the year — which I believe they will — and not the best rap album.
8. COUNTRY ALBUM: “Cry,” Faith Hill; “My Baby Don’t Tolerate,” Lyle Lovett; “Run That by Me One More Time,” Willie Nelson and Ray Price; “Live and Kickin’,” Willie Nelson; “Up!,” Shania Twain; “Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’: Songs of the Louvin Brothers,” Various Artists.
Bauder: You go, Willie! Competing against yourself — usually a sure way to lose. In many ways, “Up!” and “Cry” and hardly country albums, but that just shows how country has changed. A vote here for Lyle Lovett.
Moody: I’ll pick a surprise win for “Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’ ...” — I reckon the other four name acts will cannibalize each other.
9: CONTEMPORARY R&B ALBUM: “Chapter II,” Ashanti; “Dangerously in Love,” Beyonce; “Love & Life,” Mary J. Blige; “Comin’ From Where I’m From,” Anthony Hamilton; “Chocolate Factory,” R. Kelly.
Moody: Had R. Kelly not been facing Michael Jacksonesque problems, he might have been a favorite to win here, and maybe even gotten a nod in the overall category, where he is most deserving. But his loss is Beyonce’s gain — and she’ll probably win most of her awards in the R&B categories anyway.
Bauder: Oh, what’s a little sex scandal going to mean to Grammy voters? Stomach-turning though his alleged behavior may be, I don’t think voters will ignore R. Kelly’s work here.
10. TRADITIONAL POP VOCAL ALBUM: “A Wonderful World,” Tony Bennett & k.d. lang; “The Last Concert,” Rosemary Clooney; “Bette Midler Sings The Rosemary Clooney Songbook,” Bette Midler; “As Time Goes By ... The Great American Songbook: Volume II,” Rod Stewart; “The Movie Album,” Barbra Streisand.
Moody: Old pop stars don’t die — they just go on to record music by dead people. Isn’t it frightening that former wild childs like Midler and Stewart are now singing songs better suited for your Grandma’s nursing home dance? But hey, I digress. Although Tony Bennett is a favorite, Clooney wins for her “Last Concert,” because it is her last — she died last year.
Bauder: If Stewart’s cynical career move wins, I’ll eat my tuxedo. I think Grammy voters are simply conditioned to checking off Bennett’s name in this category, and they will again.