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Originally published February 8, 2013 at 5:00 AM | Page modified February 10, 2013 at 9:16 AM

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Grammy predictions: 4 writers, 4 categories, 4 opinions

Writers Paul de Barros, Andrew Matson, Charles R. Cross and Gene Stout handicap the 2013 Grammy nominees in four top categories.

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Though there’s little Northwest representation at this year’s Grammy Awards, no one who’s been listening to pop music can deny the field is crowded with top talent — much of it young — and catchy songs. The past year has been a fun ride.

We reached out to four of our pop music writers and asked the eternal questions: In a perfect world, who should win in the top four categories — Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year (that’s for songwriters) and Best New Artist. And, in this imperfect world, who will win?

Given the wide range of tastes among our critics — staffer Paul de Barros and freelancers Gene Stout, Charles R. Cross and Andrew Matson — there was quite the spectrum of opinion.

Find out how our writers’ predictions hold up at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, when the Grammy telecast begins on CBS. You can also join some of them for a live chat during the ceremony at seattletimes.com. See you then.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

Paul de Barros

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

Not just because it’s an earworm — and certainly not because Swift is a great singer; she isn’t — but for its girl power and unequivocal certitude.

Will win: Gotye (feat. Kimbra), “Somebody That I Used to Know”

Because in 2012, dance and romance ruled.

Andrew Matson

Should win: Frank Ocean, “Channel Orange”

His song was subtle and original and all the other nominees’ were not. (Based on quality of recorded pop music in 2012, my feeling is Frank Ocean deserves to win every award under the sun — well, almost every award.

Will win: Gotye (feat. Kimbra), “Somebody That I Used to Know”

Because his song sounds exactly like The Police, which everybody loves forever and ever, amen (see Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven,” Maroon 5’s career).

Gene Stout

Should win: Fun. (feat. Janelle Monae), “We Are Young”

Singer Nate Ruess brought rock-star excitement to a tremendously catchy and high-spirited masterpiece of pop craftsmanship.

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

Even if the song drove many listeners slightly nuts, it’s a pop gem with solid hooks and production, a humorous storyline and a wonderfully theatrical video. Keenly aware of Swift’s mega-watt appeal, Grammy voters will give her the nod.

Charles Cross

Should win: The Black Keys, “Lonely Boy”

The guitar riff from this song will be played by teenaged guitar students from now until the end of the time.

Will win: Gotye (feat. Kimbra), “Somebody That I Used to Know”

Gotye’s hit was everywhere this summer, and there’s not a person alive who can’t relate to the lyrics, guaranteeing a Grammy win.

•   •   •

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

de Barros

Should: Frank Ocean, “Channel Orange.”

Never mind the Twitterverse or the unevenness, Ocean is flat-out great new talent, both as a singer and songwriter. The fact that he’s tentative and unpredictable probably bodes for a long and storied career.

Will: Fun., “Some Nights”

Not just dance, but pop, too, rules in 2012. Those high, choral boy voices with just enough darkness to be taken seriously, will snag the voters this year.

Matson

Should: Frank Ocean, “Channel Orange”

Because his album sounded like beautiful clouds and had the best songwriting.

Will: Frank Ocean, because he wrote about having once loved a man, and the world needed to hear that was OK from a popular R&B singer.

Stout

Should: Frank Ocean, “Channel Orange”

Los Angeles singer reinvigorated R&B with one of the sexiest, most thoughtful releases of the year.

Will: Mumford & Sons, “Babel”

The group’s stratospheric success as folk revivalists with a powerful pop punch will be hard to beat.

Cross

Should: The Black Keys, “El Camino”

With their raw sound the Black Keys put out the most satisfying album of the year, but also one with an edge.

Will: Frank Ocean, “Channel Orange”

Ocean’s coming out was indeed courageous, and his album was solid, exactly the right combination of sales and buzz that usually is rewarded by Grammy voters.

•   •   •

SONG OF THE YEAR (SONGWRITER'S AWARD)

de Barros

Should: “Call Me Maybe”

Pure, unadulterated, fizzy, irresistible pop. Lots of much more serious songs out there, including Kelly Clarkson’s inspirational “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” but this is what pop music is all about.

Will: “Call Me Maybe.” See above.

Matson

Should: “Adorn” (sung by Miguel).

The rare love song that suggests men as a decoration for women, not the other way around.

Will: “Call Me Maybe.”

Carly Rae Jepsen has Justin Bieber on her team, one of the most influential people alive.

Stout

Should: “We Are Young”

It’s not only a great pop song, it’s an anthem that fuses several musical genres with hand-clapping exuberance.

Will: “We Are Young”

Despite the can’t-get-it-out-of-your head appeal of “Call Me Maybe” or the star power of “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” the huge hit by the New York City power-pop trio is a shoo-in.

Cross

Should: “We Are Young”

This was a commercial breakthrough and catchy enough that the band seemed appropriately named.

Will: “Call Me Maybe”

Unfortunately, this monster hit was as catchy as it was ubiquitous — though like a bad cruise ship virus.

•   •   •

BEST NEW ARTIST

de Barros

Should: The Lumineers

There’s a lot of great new talent out there this year, but I’m going with local loyalty and pick neo-folkies The Lumineers, who made that goofy single, “Ho, Hey” and their album right here at Bear Creek Studio in Woodinville.

Will: Tossup between original neo-soulsters Alabama Shakes and Frank Ocean

When all is said and done, however, it’ll probably be Ocean.

Matson

Should: Alabama Shakes

They came out of nowhere to dominate concert stages with screaming roots rock.

Will: The Lumineers

Because of their youth group-esque foot-stomping and group-shouting — key elements of the (still!) ongoing kumbaya moment in rock.

Stout

Should: Frank Ocean

He achieved commercial success without sacrificing artistic vision and his deep sense of humanity.

Will: Fun.

But in a field of strong contenders, spirited folk-rockers The Lumineers are also strong contenders.

Cross

Should: The Lumineers

The band recorded at Bear Creek Studios, with local producer Ryan Hadlock, making this charming album as close to a Northwest favorite as you can find this year.

Will: Frank Ocean

Most Grammy voters will hone in on Ocean’s mainstream success.

Seattle Times Staff

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