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The Grammy goes to ...

Our critics pick who could (and should) win on music’s biggest night

Living/Arts: Pop Music: Adele British vocalist Adele performs before a sold out House of Blues in Boston, Sunday, May 15, 2011. (Robert E. Klein for the Boston Globe)

Robert E. Klein for the Boston Globe

We hope Adele brings a broom with her because she’s going to need it for her expected sweep tonight at the 54th Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. As the owner of 2011’s best-selling album, “21,’’ and the voice behind its powerful and emotional hits, she is poised for a major victory lap as she vies for six awards, including the three top prizes: record, album, and song of the year.

The 23-year-old British singer-songwriter’s potential awards won’t be her most important appearance in the spotlight tonight. That will come when she stands behind a microphone to sing in her first public performance since undergoing vocal cord surgery here in Boston in November.

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Will the power and pathos embedded in the grooves of such hits as “Rolling in the Deep’’ and “Someone Like You’’ be there? Adele’s fans will be rooting her on to a greater victory, the one that means she will be able to keep singing - and winning Grammys - for years to come.

Going into tonight’s show, we predict who will be crowding their trophy case, and who should be.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

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“21,’’ Adele

“Wasting Light,’’ Foo Fighters

“Born This Way,’’ Lady Gaga

“Doo-Wops & Hooligans,’’ Bruno Mars

“Loud,’’ Rihanna

RODMAN

Will and should win: Adele, “21’’

The perfect, and rare, opportunity for the music business to celebrate not only the best-selling album of the year but one of the finest. Anyone who’s ever felt the rage, pain, relief, and melancholy of a breakup understands exactly how Adele got it right on her sophomore release.

REED Will win: Adele, “21’’

Make no mistake: Adele owns this year’s Grammys. And why not? “21’’ was solid, but more than that it was perhaps the only album that galvanized pop culture last year in terms of sales and ubiquity. And it had heart.

Should win: Kanye West, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’’

Alas, the rapper is not even nominated for this category, though he is the leading contender for best rap album. Gaga has a slim chance of taking it, but Rihanna’s “Loud,’’ quite frankly, does not belong here.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

“Rolling in the Deep,’’ Adele

“Holocene,’’ Bon Iver

“Grenade,’’ Bruno Mars

“The Cave,’’ Mumford & Sons

“Firework,’’ Katy Perry

RODMAN Will and should win: Adele, “Rolling in the Deep’’

Based on sheer ubiquity alone, Adele’s booming anthem deserves to claim the top prize. Yes, that ubiquity meant that after the gazillionth play we became a bit fatigued, but that saturation doesn’t diminish the glory of the tune one bit.

REED Will and should win: Adele, “Rolling in the Deep’’

As long as Perry’s “Firework’’ doesn’t take it, I’m fine with another trophy for Adele.

SONG OF THE YEAR

“All of the Lights,’’ Kanye West featuring Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie.

“The Cave,’’ Mumford & Sons

“Grenade,’’ Bruno Mars

“Holocene,’’ Bon Iver

“Rolling in the Deep,’’ Adele

RODMAN Will and should win: Adele, “Rolling in the Deep’’

All that stuff I said before, plus it would be nice to shine a light on co-writer Paul Epworth.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Musician Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry performs at the Highline Ballroom on March 9, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images) NYTCREDIT: Jason Kempin/Getty Images 12grammypicks

Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry, which is nominated for Record of the Year and Best New Artist.

REED Will and should win: Adele, “Rolling in the Deep’’

I would like to root for Bon Iver, but in a category meant to honor the songwriter, I still have no idea what the lyrics of “Holocene’’ actually mean.

BEST NEW ARTIST

The Band Perry

Bon Iver

J. Cole

Nicki Minaj

Skrillex

RODMAN Will win: The Band Perry

Here’s where sales will trump indie cred as the family band with a big crossover hit, “If I Die Young,’’ will be rewarded for bringing Nashville to contemporary hit radio.

Should win: Bon Iver

So many different styles here, but Bon Iver’s hit home the most for me.

REED Will and should win: Bon Iver

As we learned at last year’s ceremony, when jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding triumphed over the likes of Justin Bieber and Drake, this category loves a dark horse.

BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

“Body and Soul,’’ Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse

“Dearest,’’ The Black Keys

“Paradise,’’ Coldplay

“Pumped Up Kicks,’’ Foster the People

“Moves Like Jagger,’’ Maroon 5 & Christina Aguilera

RODMAN Will win: “Body and Soul,’’ Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse

A true recording legend who scored a No. 1 album at 85. A gone-before-her-time phenom in her last-ever recording session. How could Grammy voters resist?

Should win: “Pumped Up Kicks,’’ Foster the People

While Bennett-Winehouse is a compelling story, it is a one-off. This actual group scored one of the most earwormy hits of the year.

REED Will and should win: “Body and Soul,’’ Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse

The performance alone is heartbreaking, but its poignant back story also probably resonated with Grammy voters.

BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE

“Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall,’’ Coldplay

“Down by the Water,’’ the Decemberists

“Walk,’’ Foo Fighters

“The Cave,’’ Mumford & Sons

“Lotus Flower,’’ Radiohead

RODMAN Will and should win: “Walk,’’ Foo Fighters

A great song from a great album by a great rock band that happens to be a favorite of the Recording Academy.

REED Will win: “Walk,’’ Foo Fighters

Catchy and commercially successful - a good Grammy combo.

Should win: “Down by the Water,’’ the Decemberists

A little bit country, a little bit rock ’n’ roll. ’Nuff said.

BEST TRADITIONAL R&B PERFORMANCE

“Sometimes I Cry,’’ Eric Benét

“Fool For You,’’ Cee Lo Green & Melanie Fiona

“Radio Message,’’ R. Kelly

“Good Man,’’ Raphael Saadiq

“Surrender,’’ Betty Wright & The Roots

RODMAN Will win: “Surrender,’’ Betty Wright & The Roots

The mighty Roots crew plus a soul legend will put this over the top.

Should win: “Good Man,’’ Raphael Saadiq

Stone cold soul.

REED Will and should win: “Good Man,’’ Raphael Saadiq

Saadiq’s approach - something old, something new - is tailor-made for Grammy voters.

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 10: Singer/Songwriter Jason Aldean performs during CMA Music Festival Day 1 at LP Field on June 10, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images) NYTCREDIT: Rick Diamond/Getty Images 12grammypicks

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Jason Aldean is nominated for best country album.

BEST RAP ALBUM

“Watch the Throne,’’ Jay-Z & Kanye West

“Tha Carter IV,’’ Lil Wayne

“Lasers,’’ Lupe Fiasco

“Pink Friday,’’ Nicki Minaj

“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,’’ Kanye West

RODMAN Will win: “Watch The Throne,’’ Jay-Z & Kanye West

The kings will be crowned . . .

Should win: “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,’’ Kanye West

. . . but this was the better record.

REED Will and should win: “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,’’ Kanye West

Not just a consolation prize for being shut out for album of the year, it deserves to win for its artistic merits and the way it stretched the boundaries of hip-hop and rap.

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM

“My Kinda Party,’’ Jason Aldean

“Chief,’’ Eric Church

“Own the Night,’’ Lady Antebellum

“Red River Blue,’’ Blake Shelton

“Here for a Good Time,’’ George Strait

“Speak Now,’’ Taylor Swift

RODMAN Will win: “Own the Night,’’ Lady Antebellum

One of the most competitive categories in the whole shooting match, with legends (Strait) going head-to-head with multi-platinum sellers (Swift) and newly minted arena headliners (Church, Shelton, and Aldean).

Should win: “Chief,’’ Eric Church

Hands down the best stem-to-stern album on this list in terms of the balance of creative inspiration and Nashville formula.

REED Will win: “Speak Now,’’ Taylor Swift

Oddly, Swift didn’t crack the three big categories. This category is hers. Or in Swift-speak: “You belong to meeeee.’’

Should win: “My Kinda Party,’’ Jason Aldean

Part of a new generation of country stars with rock-star aspirations, Aldean, just like this album, appeals to a broad fan base.

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