Let's all sing the praises of Chris Willman of Entertainment Weekly for being the first topnotch music pundit to tell us who he's predicting will win eight leading Grammy races on Feb. 8.
Unfortunately, we don't know why Chris is making these forecasts. "I'm up in the mountains with the barest of Internet access!" he said by email over the holiday weekend, so we didn't press him to elaborate. We'll bug him later when he comes down from the mountaintop, hopefully with some clay tablets offering divine insight.
Meantime, "here goes nothing," Chris says most modestly. I advise all skeptics to take his gutsy forecasts seriously, however. In February 2004, when Chris and I competed against a half dozen other Grammy gurus at GoldDerby.com, he won.
RECORD OF THE YEAR
X - "We Belong Together," Mariah Carey
"Feel Good Inc.," Gorillaz featuring De La Soul
"Boulevard of Broken Dreams," Green Day
"Hollaback Girl," Gwen Stefani
"Gold Digger," Kanye West
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
"The Emancipation of Mimi," Mariah Carey
"Chaos and Creation in the Backyard," Paul McCartney
"Love, Angel, Music, Baby," Gwen Stefani
X - "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," U2
"Late Registration," Kanye West
SONG OF THE YEAR
"Bless the Broken Road"
"Devils & Dust"
X - "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own"
"We Belong Together"
BEST NEW ARTIST
Fall Out Boy
X - John Legend
BEST R&B ALBUM
"Illumination," Earth, Wind & Fire
"Free Yourself," Fantasia
X - "Unplugged," Alicia Keys
"Get Lifted," John Legend
"A Time to Love," Stevie Wonder
BEST MALE POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE
Jack Johnson, "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing"
Paul McCartney, "Fine Line"
Seal, "Walk on By"
X - Rob Thomas, "Lonely No More"
Stevie Wonder, "From the Bottom of My Heart"
BEST FEMALE COUNTRY VOCAL PERFORMANCE
Emmylou Harris, "The Connection"
Faith Hill, "Mississippi Girl"
Gretchen Wilson, "All Jacked Up"
X - Lee Ann Womack, "I May Hate Myself in the Morning"
Trisha Yearwood, "Georgia Rain"
BEST RAP SONG
"Candy Shop," Curtis Jackson & Scott Storch, songwriters (50 Cent featuring Olivia)
X - "Diamonds from Sierra Leone," D. Harris & Kanye West, songwriters; (J. Barry & D. Black, songwriters) (Kanye West)
"Don't Phunk with My Heart," William Adams, Printz Board, Stacy Ferguson & George Pajon, Jr., songwriters; (Kalyanji Anandji, Full Force & Indeewar, songwriters) (The Black Eyed Peas)
"Hate It or Love It," Curtis Jackson, A. Lyon, Jayceon Taylor & M. Valenzano, songwriters; (Baker, Felder & Harris, songwriters) (The Game featuring 50 Cent)
"Lose Control," M. Elliott, C. Harris & G. Isaacs III, songwriters; (J. Atkins, R. Davis & C. Hudson, songwriters) (Missy Elliott featuring Ciara & Fat Man Scoop)
Photo: Music reporter Chris Willman believes U2's "Atomic Bomb" will decimate the competition in the album and song of the year contests.