February 14, 2011 12:00 PM

Chuck’s GRAMMY PICKS

RECORD of the Year

B.o.B featuring Bruno Mars, “Nothin’ on You”

Eminem featuring Rihanna, “Love the Way You Lie”

Cee Lo Green, “F— You”

Jay-Z & Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind”

Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”

From the sweet lightness of “Nothin’ on You” to the street darkness of “Love the Way You Lie,” this is one of the best bunch of ROTY contenders in recent memory. On merit you can make a case for any of them. Tellingly, though, four out of five nominees are R&B/hip-hop records, which probably means they’ll split the vote, leaving country-pop smash “Need You Now” as the likely winner. If the anthemic “Empire State of Mind”-the “New York, New York” of the hip-hop world-hadn’t come out all the way back in October 2009(!), it probably would have gotten my vote. But I’m rooting for Cee Lo, who should have won this award four years ago for “Crazy” with Gnarls Barkley. It’s his moment-his foul-mouthed brilliance should not be denied.

LISTEN TO the nominees

The 2011 Grammy Nominees album will tune you up for the 53rd annual awards, airing Feb. 13 on CBS at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

ALBUM of the Year

Arcade Fire, The Suburbs

Eminem, Recovery

Lady Antebellum, Need You Now

Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster

Katy Perry, Teenage Dream

Teenage Dream, though yielding three No. 1 singles, is more escapist fluff than a fully realized work. Need You Now, while triple platinum, was hardly even the best country album. As much of a monster as Gaga’s set was, it feels more like an addendum to The Fame. Recovery represented a strong comeback for Eminem, who, up for this award twice before, probably should have won already. But The Suburbs, exploring rich musical and emotional terrain, is the kind of epic achievement that this prize is made for.

SONG of the Year

Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs, “Beg Steal or Borrow”

Cee Lo Green, “F— You”

Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me”

Eminem featuring Rihanna, “Love the Way You Lie”

Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”

While featuring three of the Record of the Year nominees, this category (a songwriter award) mixes it up with Lambert’s nostalgic ballad and LaMontagne’s folk-blues surprise. Again, however, the gramophone should go to “F— You.” It’d be a fitting way to honor cowriter Bruno Mars, the year’s breakout pop tunesmith.

Best New Artist

Justin Bieber

Drake

Florence + the Machine

Mumford & Sons

Esperanza Spalding

Biebs probably gets more attention for his hair than his talent, but his nod is no fluke from the teen-idol gods. Still, he and jazz bassist Spalding should be psyched just to be here. I’d be happy to see any of the other three win. Drake, especially, had a big year, while Mumford was 2010’s best new band. But since great female alt-rockers don’t come around every day, I’m pulling for Flo.

OTHER Grammy Picks . . .

BEST FEMALE POP VOCAL

Lady Gaga, “Bad Romance”

BEST MALE POP VOCAL

Bruno Mars, “Just the Way You Are”

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster

BEST ROCK ALBUM

Pearl Jam, Backspacer

BEST RAP SONG

Jay-Z & Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind”

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM

Jamey Johnson, The Guitar Song

BEST CONTEMPORARY R&B ALBUM

Janelle Monae, The ArchAndroid

BEST DANCE RECORDING

Robyn, “Dancing on My Own”

BEST FEMALE COUNTRY VOCAL

Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me”

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