By Chuck Arnold Kevin O'Donnell
February 11, 2013 12:00 PM

CATCH THE 55TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS

SUNDAY, FEB. 10, 8 P.M. EST ON CBS

Chuck’s GRAMMY PICKS

Album OF THE YEAR

The Black Keys, El Camino

Fun, Some Nights

Mumford & Sons, Babel

* Frank Ocean, Channel Orange

Jack White, Blunderbuss

BEST NEW Artist

Alabama Shakes

Fun

Hunter Hayes

The Lumineers

* Frank Ocean

For both of these Big Four categories, there is no contest to me: It’s Frank Ocean’s world, and the rest of them are just swimming in it. For Album of the Year, the neo-soul sensation finds himself going up against what are essentially four rock acts (with the only real weak link being Fun’s overrated Some Nights). But none of them rocked the artistic vision of Channel Orange, with its intricately woven soundscapes and storytelling. Ocean is even more of a no-brainer for Best New Artist, a category that’s missing some worthy competition from the likes of Gotye and Ed Sheeran. Stealing their spot is bluesy rock band Alabama Shakes in the biggest surprise of the bunch.

Record OF THE YEAR

The Black Keys, “Lonely Boy”

Kelly Clarkson, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”

Fun, “We Are Young” (featuring Janelle Monae)

* Gotye, “Somebody That I Used to Know” (featuring Kimbra)

Frank Ocean, “Thinkin Bout You”

Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

Even with six contenders-instead of the usual five-for this coveted prize, there are some notable absences, including “Take Care,” Drake’s mesmerizing trance dance with Rihanna (which would have gotten my vote), and the ubiquitous “Call Me Maybe.” While each single here has its merits, for me it comes down to a battle between Fun’s and Gotye’s No. 1’s. I’d be happy to see either win, but the creepy-cool slink of Gotye’s breakup song edges out Fun’s power-pop anthem.

Song OF THE YEAR

Kelly Clarkson, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”

Fun, “We Are Young” (featuring Janelle Monae)

* Carly Rae Jepsen, “Call Me Maybe”

Miguel, “Adorn”

Ed Sheeran, “The A Team”

Usually there is more overlap between Record of the Year and this category, which is a songwriting award. Aside from Clarkson, each of these artists had a hand in penning their tune. But nothing captured the pop zeitgeist in 2012 like “Call Me Maybe”-all giddy innocence in troubled times. Some kind of magic.

Justin Bieber

Believe Acoustic |

POP

After following up My World and My World 2.0 with My Worlds Acoustic, Justin Bieber unplugs again for this take on last year’s Believe. Stripped-down versions of originally electro-infused tracks like “As Long as You Love Me” trade beats for sweets. Still, some of these makeunders are kind of pointless, and-though I hate to admit it-I miss Biebs rapping on “Boyfriend.” But there’s a bonus: three new ballads.

COMMENTS? WRITE TO CHUCK: chucksreviews@peoplemag.com

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