PEOPLE's Music Critic Makes Grammy Picks

PEOPLE's Music Critic Makes Grammy Picks
Beyoncé (left) and Taylor Swift
Gregg DeGuire/PictureGroup; Charles Sykes/AP

01/30/2010 AT 12:00 PM EST

Now that we're just hours away from music's biggest night, PEOPLE critic Chuck Arnold shares who he's rooting for in the biggest races:


BeyoncéI Am . . . Sasha Fierce **
The Black Eyed PeasThe E.N.D. (Energy Never Dies)
Dave Matthews BandBig Whiskey & the GrooGrux King
Lady GagaThe Fame
Taylor SwiftFearless

Without three discs that should have made the cut – U2's No Line on the Horizon, Maxwell's BLACKsummers'night and Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown – there's no clear choice. I think Swift's album wasn't strong enough to win, and it wasn't DMB's year. But Sasha Fierce is due.


Beyoncé – "Single Ladies [Put a Ring on It]
" Kings of Leon – "Use Somebody" **
Lady Gaga – "Poker Face"
Maxwell – "Pretty Wings"
Taylor Swift "You Belong with Me"

"Single Ladies" and "Poker Face" benefit heavily from their production. I'd be happy if the Grammys honored the precocious songwriting talents of the unstoppable Swift or the beauty of Maxwell's breakup ballad. But Kings of Leon rule here.


Beyoncé – "Halo"
The Black Eyed Peas – "I Gotta Feeling"
Lady Gaga – "Poker Face"
Kings of Leon – "Use Somebody"**
Taylor Swift "You Belong with Me"

"Halo" (inexplicably nominated instead of "Single Ladies") and "You Belong with Me" lack the anthemic feel of records that defined a year. "I Gotta Feeling" suffers from cheesy lyrics, while "Poker Face" is all glam style over substance. But in the soaring ballad "Use Somebody," KOL captured the emotional ache in all of us.


Keri Hilson
Silversun Pickups
The Ting Tings
Zac Brown Band

Since Lady Gaga was ineligible in this category because "Just Dance" was nominated last year, the real Best New Artist won't win this. At least the groovy twosome MGMT brings some hipster cool to this crowd.

Watch the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards on Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, live on CBS – and catch up on all the news and style from the show on!

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