Pop Stops Picks for the Grammy Awards

The 41st Annual Grammy Awards Show is just a few days away – the night of Feb. 24 – and so, once again, it's time to take a look back at the best (or at least the most popular) recordings of the past year.

There always seem to be a couple of artists each year who get nominated in a plethora of categories. Who will walk away with an armful of little gold gramophones this year? Lauryn Hill may need some assistance in getting her Grammys home – she's nominated in 10 different categories thanks to the popularity of her first solo album from The Fugees.

The artists who were involved in last year's hit movies are likely to score big this year at the Grammys as well.

Film soundtracks were huge last year, with songs from "Titanic," "Godzilla," "Armageddon" and "City of Angels" popping up again and again on the Grammy nominee list. With six nominations, this looks like the year for Celine Dion to walk away with several awards — the biggest movie of the year also spawned the most popular song of the year – "My Heart Will Go On," the love theme From "Titanic."

Aerosmith turned up in five categories thanks to their last studio album as well as their recording for the movie "Armageddon" and The Goo Goo Dolls' work on "City of Angels" earned them three nominations. Madonna and Shania Twain each have a handful nominations for their multiplatinum album releases of the past year and the Brian Setzer Orchestra and Natalie Imbruglia also have more than a couple chances to win a statue.

This year's awards cover recordings released during the Grammy Eligibility Year of Oct. 1, 1997-Sept. 30, 1998. The Grammy Awards cover the whole spectrum of music, from pop to blues to rap to classical to children's recordings.

For the purposes of this article, I'll focus on the awards in the pop/rock field. For a complete listing of all 95 categories of awards, check out the Grammy web site at www.grammy.com.

Given the list that the Grammy nominators have offered us (and, as always, the nominators have opted for some strange omissions and inclusions), here are my votes for who I think should win, with the occasional comment. Clip the following list, make your own Xs and see how you and I each score during the televised awards show on Wednesday!

Editor's Note: Now that the Grammy Awards are over, I've gone ahead and noted with a red X the actual winners (as opposed to my own picks, the black checkmarks).

RECORD OF THE YEAR
Award to the Artist and to the Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s) and/or Mixer(s) if other than the artist. This category is for a commercially released single, or track from a current year's album.

"The Boy Is Mine" – Brandy & Monica from Never Say Never and from The Boy Is Mine
x "My Heart Will Go On" – Celine Dion from Let's Talk About Love and Titanic – Music From The Motion Picture
"Iris" – Goo Goo Dolls from City Of Angels – Music From The Motion Picture
"Ray Of Light" – Madonna from Ray Of Light
"You're Still The One" – Shania Twain from Come On Over

ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Award to the Artist(s), and to the Album Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s) and/or Mixer(s) if other than the artist.

The Globe Sessions – Sheryl Crow
Version 2.0 – Garbage
x
The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill — Lauryn Hill
Ray Of Light – Madonna
Come On Over — Shania Twain

Garbage is a dark horse in this category, which will likely be taken by Lauryn Hill or Madonna — who each put out tedious but inexplicably popular albums last year.

SONG OF THE YEAR
A Songwriter(s) Award. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. Artists' names appear in parenthesis. (Singles or Tracks only.)

"I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" – Diane Warren, songwriter (recorded by Aerosmith for Armageddon - The Album)
"Iris" – John Rzeznik, songwriter (recorded by Goo Goo Dolls) from City Of Angels - Music From The Motion Picture
"Lean On Me" – Kirk Franklin, songwriter (recorded by Kirk Franklin With Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, Bono, Crystal Lewis & The Family) from The Nu Nu Nation Project
x "My Heart Will Go On" – James Horner & Will Jennings, songwriters (recorded by Celine Dion) from Let's Talk About Love and Titanic - Music From The Motion Picture
"You're Still The One" – Robert John "Mutt" Lange & Shania Twain, songwriters (recorded by Shania Twain) from Come On Over

"My Heart Will Go On" certainly deserves Record or Song of the Year, but not both. Hopefully "Iris" or "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" will take this category.

BEST NEW ARTIST
For a new artist who releases, during the Eligibility Year, the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist.

Backstreet Boys
Andrea Bocelli
Dixie Chicks
x Lauryn Hill
Natalie Imbruglia

Lauryn Hill is the popular favorite in this category, but Natalie Imbruglia's disc was far more inviting and fresh. Where are the other newcomers who scored their first radio hits last year like Anggun, Athenaeum, Jimmy Ray and Loreena McKennitt?

BEST FEMALE POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE
For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.

"My Favorite Mistake" – Sheryl Crow from The Globe Sessions
x "My Heart Will Go On" – Celine Dion from Let's Talk About Love and Titanic - Music From The Motion Picture
"Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" – Lauryn Hill from The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
"Torn" – Natalie Imbruglia from Left Of The Middle
"Adia" – Sarah McLachlan from Surfacing

Sarah McLachlan is probably the dark horse of this category, but her vocal work on "Adia" is precious, delicate and haunting.

BEST MALE POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE
For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.

"Save Tonight" – Eagle-Eye Cherry from Desireless
x "My Father's Eyes" – Eric Clapton from Pilgrim
"Anytime" – Brian McKnight from Anytime
"Lullaby" – Shawn Mullins from Soul's Core
"You Were Meant For Me" – Sting from The Object Of My Affection - Soundtrack

BEST POP PERFORMANCE BY A DUO OR GROUP WITH VOCAL
For established duos or groups. Singles or Tracks only.

"I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" – Aerosmith from Armageddon - The Album
"One Week" – Barenaked Ladies from Stunt
"Iris" – Goo Goo Dolls from City Of Angels - Music From The Motion Picture
"Crush" – Dave Matthews Band from Before These Crowded Streets
x "Jump Jive An' Wail" – The Brian Setzer Orchestra from The Dirty Boogie

This is a tough category – Barenaked Ladies handle some pretty treacherous vocal work on "One Week," and "Iris" is one of the best "lighter" anthems of the past year. But my nod goes to Setzer for helping to make swing cool again.

BEST POP COLLABORATION WITH VOCALS
For a collaborative performance by artists who do not normally perform together. Singles or Tracks only.

"How Come, How Long" – Babyface With Stevie Wonder from MTV Unplugged NYC (Babyface)
"Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" – Jackson Browne & Bonnie Raitt from Where Have All The Flowers Gone - The Songs Of Pete Seeger (Various Artists)
x "I Still Have That Other Girl" – Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach from Painted From Memory
"I'm Your Angel" – R. Kelly & Celine Dion from R.
"Shenandoah" – Van Morrison & The Chieftains from Long Journey Home (The Chieftains With Various Artists)

BEST POP INSTRUMENTAL PERFORMANCE
For instrumental recordings, with or without vocal coloring, by an Orchestra, Group or Soloist. Singles or Tracks only.

"The X-Files Theme" – The Dust Brothers from The X-Files - The Album
"Big Country" – Bela Fleck And The Flecktones from Left Of Cool
"My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme From Titanic)" – Kenny G
"Follow Me" – Pat Metheny Group from Imaginary Day
x "Sleepwalk" – The Brian Setzer Orchestra from The Dirty Boogie

BEST DANCE RECORDING
For solo artists, duos or groups, vocal or instrumental. Singles or tracks only. Award to the Artist and to the Producer (and/or Mixer) if other than the Artist.

"When Will You Learn" – Boy George from Winter Party 1998
"Around The World" – Daft Punk from Homework
"Heaven's What I Feel" – Gloria Estefan from Gloria!
"Disco Inferno" – Cyndi Lauper from A Night At The Roxbury - Soundtrack
x "Ray Of Light" – Madonna from Ray Of Light

Why aren't The Dust Brothers and Propellerheads in this category? Lauper's cover of "Disco Inferno" does not belong on any best of the year listing.

BEST POP ALBUM
For solo artists, duos or groups, vocal or instrumental. Compilation albums by various artists are not eligible. Award to the Artist and to the Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s) and/or Mixer(s) of 51% or more playing time of album.

Pilgrim – Eric Clapton
Let's Talk About Love – Celine Dion
Left Of The Middle – Natalie Imbruglia
x Ray Of Light – Madonna
The Dirty Boogie – The Brian Setzer Orchestra

BEST FEMALE ROCK VOCAL PERFORMANCE
For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.

"Raspberry Swirl" – Tori Amos from From The Choirgirl Hotel
"There Goes The Neighborhood" – Sheryl Crow from The Globe Sessions
"Glass House" – Ani DiFranco from Little Plastic Castle
x "Uninvited" – Alanis Morissette from City Of Angels - Music From The Motion Picture
"Can't Let Go" – Lucinda Williams from Car Wheels On A Gravel Road

BEST MALE ROCK VOCAL PERFORMANCE
For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.

"Everybody Here Wants You" – Jeff Buckley from Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk
"Almost Saturday Night" – John Fogerty from Premonition
"Have A Little Faith In Me" – John Hiatt from The Best Of John Hiatt
x "Fly Away" – Lenny Kravitz from 5
"Your Life Is Now" – John Mellencamp from John Mellencamp

BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE BY A DUO OR GROUP WITH VOCAL
For Duos or Groups with vocals. Singles or Tracks only.

x "Pink" – Aerosmith from Nine Lives
"The Way" – Fastball from All The Pain Money Can Buy
"Celebrity Skin" – Hole from Celebrity Skin
"Bitter Sweet Symphony" – The Verve from Urban Hymns
"Heroes" – The Wallflowers from Godzilla - The Album

BEST HARD ROCK PERFORMANCE
For solo vocals, or Duos/Groups with vocals. Singles or Tracks only.

"Psycho Circus" – Kiss from Psycho Circus
"The Dope Show" – Marilyn Manson from Mechanical Animals
x "Fuel" – Metallica from ReLoad
"Most High" – Jimmy Page & Robert Plant from Walking Into Clarksdale
"Do The Evolution" Pearl Jam from Yield

BEST METAL PERFORMANCE
For solo vocals, or Duos/Groups with vocals. Singles or Tracks only.

"Bullet Train" – Judas Priest from Jugulator
x "Better Than You" – Metallica from Re-Load
"Fried Chicken And Coffee" – Nashville Pussy from Let Them Eat Pussy
No Shelter – Rage Against The Machine from Godzilla - The Album
Du Hast –ΚRammstein from Sehnsucht

BEST ROCK INSTRUMENTAL PERFORMANCE
Includes Rock, Hard Rock and Metal Instrumentals. Singles or Tracks only.

"El Distorto De Melodica" – Everclear from So Much For The Afterglow
x "The Roots Of Confidence" – Pat Metheny Group from Imaginary Day
"Take California" – Propellerheads from Decksandrumsandrockandroll
"A Train Of Angels" – Joe Satriani from Crystal Planet
"Trouble Is ..." – Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band from Trouble Is...
"The Ironic Twist" – Jimmie Vaughan from Out There

BEST ROCK SONG
A Songwriter(s) Award. Includes Rock, Hard Rock & Metal songs. For Song Eligibility Guidelines see Category #3. (Artists' names appear in parenthesis.) Singles or Tracks only.

"Bitter Sweet Symphony" – Richard Ashcroft, Mick Jagger & Keith Richards, songwriters (recorded by The Verve) from Urban Hymns
"Celebrity Skin" – Billy Corgan, Eric Erlandson & Courtney Love, songwriters (recorded by Hole) from Celebrity Skin
"Closing Time" – Dan Wilson, songwriter (recorded by Semisonic) from Feeling Strangely Fine
"Have A Little Faith In Me" – John Hiatt, songwriter (recorded by John Hiatt) from The Best Of John Hiatt
x "Uninvited" – Alanis Morissette, songwriter (recorded by Alanis Morissette) from City Of Angels - Music From The Motion Picture

This is a particularly weak category – "Celebrity Skin" is the only real "rock" song in this list.

BEST ROCK ALBUM
For solo artists, duos or groups, vocal or instrumental. Includes Hard Rock and Metal. Compilation albums by various artists are not eligible. Award to the Artist and to the Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s) and/or Mixer(s) of 51% or more playing time of album.

x "The Globe Sessions" – Sheryl Crow
Premonition – John Fogerty
Version 2.0 – Garbage
Celebrity Skin – Hole
Before These Crowded Streets – Dave Matthews Band

Where on this list is Tori Amos, who put out her first full "rock band" record last year?Or Fastball?

BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC PERFORMANCE
For solos, duos or groups, vocal or instrumental. Compilation albums by various artists are not eligible. For Albums only.

From The Choirgirl Hotel – Tori Amos
x Hello Nasty – Beastie Boys
Is This Desire? – PJ Harvey
Airbag/How Am I Driving? – Radiohead
Adore – The Smashing Pumpkins

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM
For solo artists, Duos or Groups, vocal or instrumental. Compilation albums by various artists are not eligible. Award to the Artist and to the Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s) and/or Mixer(s) of 51% or more playing time of album.

Sevens – Garth Brooks
x Wide Open Spaces – Dixie Chicks
Faith – Faith Hill
Come On Over – Shania Twain
Where Your Road Leads – Trisha Yearwood

BEST RAP SOLO PERFORMANCE
For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.

"Dangerous" – Busta Rhymes from When Disaster Strikes...
"Lost Ones" – Lauryn Hill from The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
"Hard Knock Life" – Jay-Z from Vol. 2...Hard Knock Life
"Gone Till November" – Wyclef Jean from Wyclef Jean Presents The Carnival
x "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" – Will Smith from Big Willie Style

BEST RAP PERFORMANCE BY A DUO OR GROUP
For a Duo or Group performance. Singles or Tracks only.

x "Intergalactic" – Beastie Boys from Hello Nasty
"Money Ain't A Thang" – Jermaine Dupri Featuring Jay-Z from Life In 1472 - The Original Soundtrack
"Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)" – Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz from Make It Reign
Rosa Parks – OutKast from Aquemini
Ghetto Supastar – Pras Michel Featuring Ol' Dirty Bastard And Mya from Bulworth - The Soundtrack

The Beastie Boys should really be in the rock or alternative category – those are the radio outlets that played them. Regardless of where the Grammys list them, they have to get a vote for one of the most fun tracks of the year.

BEST CONTEMPORARY BLUES ALBUM
For albums only, either vocal or instrumental.

Sing It! – Marcia Ball, Irma Thomas & Tracy Nelson
Heavy Love – Buddy Guy
Life, Love & The Blues – Etta James
x Slow Down – Keb' Mo'
Deuces Wild – B.B. King

BEST CONTEMPORARY FOLK ALBUM
For Albums only, either vocal or instrumental.

Mermaid Avenue – Billy Bragg & Wilco
El Corazon – Steve Earle
Spyboy – Emmylou Harris
Step Inside This House – Lyle Lovett
x Car Wheels On A Gravel Road – Lucinda Williams

BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR A MOTION PICTURE OR FOR TELEVISION
A Songwriter(s) award. Category is for a song (melody & lyrics) written specifically for a motion picture or for television and commercially released on a recording for the first time during the Eligibility Year. Singles or Tracks only.

"I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" – from Armageddon, Diane Warren, songwriter (recorded by Aerosmith)
x "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic, James Horner & Will Jennings, songwriters (recorded by Celine Dion)
"Tomorrow Never Dies" from Tomorrow Never Dies, Sheryl Crow & Mitchell Froom, songwriters (recorded by Sheryl Crow)
"True To Your Heart" from Mulan, Matthew Wilder & David Zippel, songwriters (recorded by 98 Degrees And Stevie Wonder)
"Uninvited" from City Of Angels, Alanis Morissette, songwriter (recorded by Alanis Morissette)

BEST SHORT FORM MUSIC VIDEO
For an individual track or single promotional clip. Award to the Artist and to the Video Director/Producer.

"Pink" – Aerosmith – Doug Nichol, video director; Georges Bermann & Jim Czarnecki, video producers
"Bachelorette" – Bjork – Michel Gondry, video director; Georges Bermann & Julie Fong, video producers
x "Ray Of Light "– Madonna – Jonas Akerlund, video director; Nicola Doring, video producer
"All Around The World" – Oasis – Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, video directors; Bart Lipton, video producer
"Do The Evolution" – Pearl Jam – Kevin Altieri & Todd McFarlane, video directors; Terry Fitzgerald, video producer


Hey Pop Stops readers! If you want to read the reviews of many of these albums, use the Best of 1998 column for easy links.