Picks and Pans Review: 2004 Grammy Picks

updated 02/09/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/09/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

These are not your grandma's Grammys. This year's nominees are the hippest, most youthful batch ever selected. From Beyoncé to Justin Timberlake to OutKast, the top contenders sound like the usual suspects on TRL. Here's who we'd like to see making speeches when the awards are announced on Sunday, Feb. 8 (CBS, 8 p.m. ET).

Album of the Year

Under Construction
Missy Elliott

Fallen
Evanescence

Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
OutKast *

Justified
Justin Timberlake

Elephant
The White Stripes

Aside from Evanescence's metal-lite debut, which feels like a stretch (we'd have gone for Annie Lennox's Bare or Dido's Life for Rent), all the nominees have their merits. Elliott's old-school hip-hop homage seems too old, though, having been released in November 2002. Elephant, while a timely recognition of the garage-rock movement, doesn't have the heft of an Album of the Year winner. That leaves Justified and OutKast's double disc. If George Michael could win this trophy for his post-Wham! breakthrough Faith in 1988, then why not the erstwhile 'N Syncer for his surprisingly soulful solo makeover? But OutKast, with their visionary, genre-expanding tour de force, deserve to join Lauryn Hill as the only hip-hop winners in this category. The outsize, out-there brilliance of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below should have everybody shouting "Hey ya!" come Grammy night.

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