It could be Adele's year at the Grammys

Adele is shown at the MTV Video Music Adele is shown at the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. (Aug. 28, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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She's going to have it all.

Yes, Adele is going to be rolling in the deep with Grammy Awards tonight, expected to become the first artist to land all three of the top awards -- record, album and song of the year -- since the Dixie Chicks in 2007. The only real question is whether the British singer-songwriter will manage a sweep of six wins that would make her the biggest individual winner since Santana won a record-setting eight awards for "Supernatural" in 2000.

Given her lengthy winning streak with her sophomore album "21," it would be unwise to bet against Adele on anything.

So far, "21" has topped the album charts for 19 weeks, the longest time an album has spent at No. 1 since "The Bodyguard" soundtrack in 1992. It sold 5.82 million copies in 2011, making it the biggest seller since Usher's "Confessions" sold 8 million copies in 2004, while also topping numerous critics' year-end best-of lists. It has spawned three No. 1 singles -- "Rolling in the Deep," "Someone Like You" and the recent No. 1 song "Set Fire to the Rain." ("Someone Like You" also has the distinction of being the only No. 1 single in Billboard history to feature only piano and vocals.) And, of course, Adele's run is far from over.

"It's really up to Adele, at this point," says Steve Blatter, head of music programming for SiriusXM Radio, which has all three of her No. 1 hits still in rotation on its channels, as well as other album cuts and songs from her "Adele: Live at the Royal Albert Hall" album, which features concert versions of songs from "21." "That album is incredibly deep. If you don't own the album, there's a lot more there than most people realize."

In fact, Adele's only major 2011 setback was a hemorrhage in her vocal cords that required surgery in November and complete vocal rest since then. Her appearance at the Grammys will be her first performance since October, when she had to cancel her American tour due to the ailment.

"I'm immensely proud to have been asked to perform at this year's Grammy Awards," Adele said in a statement. "It's an absolute honor to be included in such a night, and for it to be my first performance in months is very exciting and of course nerve-racking, but what a way to get back into it all."

For a project born from the breakup of a tumultuous relationship, "21" looks like it will give the singer, now 23, a storybook ending beyond her wildest dreams.

"This is the year of Adele," says Stephen Hill, BET's president of music programming and specials, adding that the popularity of "21," which many credit for giving the music industry its first sales increase since 2004, is nothing short of "amazing."

Adele's success is rooted in her unusual combination of vocal power and incredibly relatable lyrics. "I think she made an album in which she was able to articulate the different ways she felt in one singular breakup," says Hill. "Falling in love and losing in love is something we've all experienced and we have very strong emotions associated with that. . . . We relate to that pain and therefore want to embrace her for being able to articulate it for us."

However, it may be Adele's likable personality that is her biggest weapon. "She's true to who she is," Blatter says. "She's really retained her authenticity as she's gotten more popular. Of all the artists that have been successful over the last several years, Adele has been a standout primarily not just because of her amazing voice and intelligent lyrics, but because she really sings from the heart and I think that's something that's been missing, particularly on mainstream radio."

Of course, there are other artists who have had skills similar to Adele's and some who have come close to her level of success and walked away from the Grammys disappointed.

"You never know with the Grammys," Blatter says. "There can always be surprises."

However, Adele's unique situation may insulate her from any of those Esperanza Spalding-like shocks. Grammy voters love young artists who embrace classic styles of music -- the way Norah Jones adapted jazz standards or Lauryn Hill modernized old-school soul. Adele does that with '60s folk and soul, while also appealing to fans who weren't born until the 21st century.

But, unlike other artists who have amassed multiple nominations -- take Kanye West, for example, who leads the night with seven nods -- Adele is also popular with the music industry establishment.

"People are breathing sighs of relief that music that touches your soul, that uses real musicians, that is about a real-life situation, still has a place and is successful," says BET's Hill. "I think people are really putting Adele on their shoulders and saying, 'Thank goodness. You are helping to prove to us that the way I grew up in music can still exist.'

"She is saying that kind of music can still thrive in an era of electronic beats, of 127 beats per minute, and AutoTuned vocals," Hill continues. "Something this pure -- and my-over-30-belief of real -- still exists."

And that will, no doubt, translate into lots of Grammy gold.


WHAT The 54th Annual Grammy Awards

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS (Pre-telecast awards handed out starting at 4 p.m. at grammy.com. Red carpet arrivals start at 5 p.m. on E!)

WHO LL Cool J hosts; performers include Adele; Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band; The Beach Boys with Foster the People and Maroon 5; Paul McCartney; Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson; Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood; Glen Campbell with The Band Perry and Blake Shelton; Coldplay and Rihanna; Chris Brown; Foo Fighters; Bruno Mars; Nicki Minaj; Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.

INFO Nominees at grammy.com

 

Critic Glenn Gamboa's Grammy picks

 

 

 

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

 

Adele, "21"

Foo Fighters, "Wasting Light"

Lady Gaga, "Born This Way"

Bruno Mars, "Doo-Wops and Hooligans"

Rihanna, "Loud"

WILL WIN "21." A chart-topping album that's loved by fans and critics? That's Grammy gold.

SHOULD WIN "21"

 

 

RECORD OF THE YEAR

 

Adele, "Rolling in the Deep"

Bon Iver, "Holocene"

Bruno Mars, "Grenade"

Mumford and Sons, "The Cave"

Katy Perry, "Firework"

WILL WIN "Rolling in the Deep." A breakup song that's both bluesy and triumphant, memorable and fresh even after the hundredth (thousandth?) time.

SHOULD WIN "Rolling in the Deep"

 

 

SONG OF THE YEAR

 

"All of the Lights" (Kanye West)

"The Cave" (Mumford and Sons)

"Grenade" (Bruno Mars)

"Holocene" (Bon Iver)

"Rolling in the Deep" (Adele)

WILL WIN "Rolling in the Deep"

SHOULD WIN "Rolling in the Deep." The best of an oddly weak class.

 

 

BEST NEW ARTIST

 

The Band Perry

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Bon Iver

J. Cole

Nicki Minaj

Skrillex

WILL WIN Nicki Minaj. It will be close between the hip-hop Barbie and earnest country siblings The Band Perry, but Minaj's undeniable star power should give her the edge.

SHOULD WIN Nicki Minaj. C'mon, "boom badoom boom boom badoom boom bass."

 

 

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

 

Adele, "21"

Cee Lo Green, "The Lady Killer"

Lady Gaga, "Born This Way"

Bruno Mars, "Doo-Wops and Hooligans"

Rihanna, "Loud"

WILL WIN "21." Three No. 1 hits and another (maybe two) to come.

SHOULD WIN "21." Sorry, Gaga and RiRi.

 

 

BEST DANCE / ELECTRONICA ALBUM

 

Cut Copy, "Zonoscope"

Deadmau5, "4x4=12"

David Guetta, "Nothing but the Beat"

Robyn, "Body Talk Pt. 3"

Skrillex, "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites"

WILL WIN "Nothing but the Beat." With a cavalcade of guest stars, Guetta will be a vote magnet.

SHOULD WIN "Body Talk Pt. 3." Robyn's album shows how dance music can also appeal to the head and heart, too.

 

 

BEST ROCK ALBUM

 

Jeff Beck, "Rock 'n' Roll Party Honoring Les Paul"

Foo Fighters, "Wasting Light"

Kings of Leon, "Come Around Sundown"

Red Hot Chili Peppers, "I'm With You"

Wilco, "The Whole Love"

WILL WIN "Wasting Light." A powerful album from a Grammy favorite.

SHOULD WIN "Wasting Light." "White Limo" alone puts them over the top.

 

 

BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM

 

Bon Iver, "Bon Iver"

Death Cab for Cutie, "Codes and Keys"

Foster the People, "Torches"

My Morning Jacket, "Circuital"

Radiohead, "The King of Limbs"

WILL WIN "Bon Iver." Might have given Adele a run for her money if it landed an album of the year nod.

SHOULD WIN "Bon Iver." A gorgeous combination of indie edge and orchestral beauty.

 

 

BEST RAP ALBUM

 

The Throne, "Watch the Throne"

Lil Wayne, "Tha Carter IV"

Lupe Fiasco, "Lasers"

Nicki Minaj, "Pink Friday"

Kanye West, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"

WILL WIN "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy." A well-deserved nod to Kanye's artistry.

SHOULD WIN "Watch the Throne." Both Kanye and Jay-Z got better by collaborating.

 

 

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM

 

Jason Aldean, "My Kinda Party"

Eric Church, "Chief"

Lady Antebellum, "Own the Night"

Blake Shelton, "Red River Blue"

George Strait, "Here for a Good Time"

Taylor Swift, "Speak Now"

WILL WIN "Speak Now." Hey! Remember her? She sure sold a lot of copies of this.

SHOULD WIN "Speak Now"

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