Odds slim for N.C. Grammy hopefuls

dmenconi@newsobserver.comFebruary 10, 2012 

  • Bon Iver - 30% chance

    Raleigh alumnus Justin Vernon has four big nominations: best new artist as well as record/song of the year for "Holocene" and best alternative album for "Bon Iver." But Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" looks like this year's overwhelming favorite; it should win both song and record of the year.

    Vernon has better odds for best alternative album, although Radiohead will be tough to top. But Vernon's best shot might be best new artist, mostly because he's not a new artist at all. Even before last year's "Bon Iver" album debuted at No. 2 on the charts, Bon Iver had two releases crack the top half of the Billboard 200. So he has familiarity, a good thing in Grammyland. With the overall contest looking like a horse race between The Band Perry and Nicki Minaj, Bon Iver could sneak in if those two cancel each other out.

    J. Cole - 25%

    Or, depending on how things break, the Fayetteville-born rapper might be the best-new-artist nominee to benefit from Perry and Minaj neutralizing each other. The fifth nominee in the category is electronica act Skrillex (who might be the smart bet, given my track record at prognosticating).

    Miles Walker - 20%

    Raleigh expatriate is a noted studio engineer and shares two nominations: Rihanna for album of the year, and Katy Perry for record of the year. Alas, both those will lose out to Adele if her landslide materializes.

    Eric Church - 20%

    The Appalachian State alumnus from Granite Falls had a great year in 2011, capped by a nomination for best country album. But given who he's up against - Taylor Swift, George Strait, Jason Aldean and Lady Antebellum - he'll have to overcome some formidable odds to win.

    Steep Canyon Rangers

    /Steve Martin - 20%

    Jim Lauderdale - 15%

    Brevard's Steep Canyon Rangers and Statesville native Lauderdale are both up for best bluegrass album, and the Rangers have a slightly better chance because their co-nominee is a celebrity. But this will probably go to either Chris Thile (who is exactly the sort of respectful young virtuoso Grammy loves) or the iconic Ralph Stanley. Fifth nominee Del McCoury is also well-regarded, so it wouldn't be a huge shock if he won.

    Warren Haynes - 15%

    For best blues album, the Asheville guitarist is up against his old boss Gregg Allman, who looks like the favorite. Another act with Allman Brothers connections, Tedeschi Trucks Band, is also a strong contender. Keb Mo and Marcia Ball face about the same odds as Haynes.

As far as local excitement, Sunday's Grammy Awards will have to go a long way to top last year - when Durham's Merge Records unexpectedly snatched last-minute victory from the jaws of defeat by winning the album-of-the-year grand prize (for Arcade Fire). And that was at the end of an evening that also saw Carolina Chocolate Drops, High Point native Fantasia and UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus Lewis Black all win in smaller categories.

By contrast, there's an excellent chance that all this year's locally connected nominees will go home empty-handed.

Menconi: 919-829-4759 or blogs.newsobserver.com/beat

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