The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences' snub of Yeezus - which walked away with the Village Voice's Pazz & Jop's critics poll - feels like a deliberate slap for perceived bad behavior. It's even worse than Oscar's snub to Inside Llewyn Davis in the best-picture category.
The result is only to widen the Grammys' considerable credibility gap, which is not helped by the where-did-that-come-from inclusion of singer-songwriter Bareilles' The Blessed Unrest among the album nominees.
But then, it's foolhardy to expect a whole lot of truth-telling regarding musical merit during the Grammy telecast - which will include performances by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, New Zealand teenage phenom Lorde, country singer Kacey Musgraves, Beyoncé and Jay Z, and a supergroup including Dave Grohl, Lindsey Buckingham, and members of Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age.
The far saner strategy is to watch the LL Cool J-hosted show from the Staples Center in hopes that the performances are memorable and that somewhere along the way, artistic achievement will be rewarded. I have high hopes for Daft Punk with Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Williams, and Stevie Wonder, and am confused by the pairing of Metallica with classical pianist Lang Lang
On, then, to Who Will Win and Who Should Win in the four major categories (out of a total of 87) for which golden gramophones will be given out on Sunday.
Album of the year
Nominees: Daft Punk, Random Access Memories; Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Heist; Kendrick Lamar, good kid, M.A.A.D. City; Taylor Swift, Red; Sara Bareilles, The Blessed Unrest.
Should win:good kid, M.A.A.D. City. The Dr. Dre- produced Compton rapper's second studio album feels like it has run its course: It was released back in October 2012, the first month of eligibility for this year's awards. But it's still the most consistently accomplished of what, with the exception of the in-over-its-head The Blessed Unrest, is a fairly strong field.
Will win:The Heist. Random Access Memories could pull an upset, and wouldn't it be nifty to watch Frenchmen Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo collect their award in the tres chic helmets. But it says here that Seattle hip-hoppers M & RL will win because their two biggest hits, the shopping-on-a- budget "Thrift Shop" and the gay rights-advocating "Same Love," were zeitgeist-defining smashes. I'm saying Swift's underrated Red loses because the pop singer from Wyomissing, Pa., won it all once before, in 2010, for Fearless.
Record of the year
Nominees: Daft Punk, "Get Lucky"; Imagine Dragons, "Radioactive"; Lorde, "Royals"; Bruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven"; Robin Thicke, featuring T.I. and Pharrell, "Blurred Lines."
Should win: "Get Lucky." The Gallic duo's sound-of-last-summer minimalist funk hit is understated but addictive, and Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers' elegant guitar part is to be rewarded.
Will win: "Royals." A deserving second choice, the song that brought now 17-year-old smartypants Ella Yelich-O'Connor to the world's attention with its caustic dismissal of rampant materialism and its catchy hook. Mars' reggae-flavored, Police-esque "Locked Out of Heaven" is also worthy. Thicke killed his chances by grinding on a twerking Miley Cyrus. (Speaking of Cyrus, why isn't "We Can't Stop" on this list?)
Song of the year
Nominees: Pink, featuring Nate Ruess, "Just Give Me a Reason"; Bruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven"; Katy Perry, "Roar"; Lorde, "Royals"; Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, "Same Love."
Should win: Let's say Mars, a fabulously talented guy who doesn't get enough respect, but who'll be just fine if he doesn't win in any of the four categories he's nominated in. He's playing the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 2.
Will win: "Same Love." For the same reasons mentioned under album of they year. The Grammys love a message song. It would be nice to see Abington-born, Doylestown-raised Pink get some recognition, after a decade and a half of reliable hit-making.
Best new artist
Nominees: James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kacey Musgraves, Ed Sheeran.
Should win: Lorde. Oh wait, she's not nominated. Too new, apparently. You couldn't go wrong with Lamar, British dubstep producer turned Joni Mitchell acolyte Blake, or Musgraves, one of the leaders (along with Ashley Monroe and Brandy Clark) of the new pack of whip-smart female country singer-songwriters.
Will win: My money is on Sheeran, the ginger British singer-songwriter who did yeoman audience-building work with his impressive one-man show as an opener for his BFF Taylor Swift on a year's worth of arena and stadium shows. A win for Musgraves, who has a performance slot on the Grammy show and whose "Follow Your Arrow" put out a live-and-let-live message of its own ("Kiss lots of boys / Or kiss lots of girls, if that's something you're into"), wouldn't be a shocker.
8 p.m. Sunday on CBS3