>HANDICAPPING THE GRAMMYS
IT'S BEEN A DYNAMIC YEAR FOR MUSIC as a colorful array of styles—rap, country, hip-hop, grunge rock, dance and metal—have mingled on the mainstream pop charts as never before. Some of that diversity is reflected in the nominations for the Grammy Awards. But when the winners are announced on CBS (Feb. 24,8 p.m. ET), I think you'll find the Grammy voters are like a maudlin drunk pumping quarters into a bar jukebox: They go for the sentimental and the familiar. That's why I predict the big winner this year will be old Slowhand, Eric Clapton (see story, page 85), who has nine nominations. As far as the four major Grammy categories, here are my predictions.
Record of the Year: "Achy Breaky Heart," the Beauty and the Beast theme and Vanessa Williams
's "Save the Best for Last" are strong contenders. In fact, k.D. lang is the only candidate you can rule out. This is Clapton's night: "Tears in Heaven" wins.
Album of the Year: Clapton again in a walkover. His only competition: U2.
Song of the Year: "Save the Best for Last" would win on merit. Beauty and the Beast could surprise. But if you study past winners, this category should really be called Weepy Ballad of the Year. Gotta be "Tears in Heaven." You can't get more lachrymose than that.
Best New Artist: Jon Secada challenges, but the big-hoss stud, Billy Ray Cyrus, takes home the statue.
My prediction: In winning, Cyrus will give his self-serving mock-humble stump speech, about how the award "really belongs to my fans, 'cause without you I sure wouldn't be here."