Tony Bennett's "Duets II" is an unstoppable force in the Grammy race for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. He won his first 10 bids in the category, losing only his most recent nod in 2009 for "A Swingin' Christmas." He lost that year to Grammy favorite Michael Buble.
Without Buble in the race this year, "Duets II" is likely to prevail just as the first "Duets" did in 2006. What further seals the deal is that Buble is among Bennett's duet partners. He also croons with Grammy darlings Lady Gaga, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, Carrie Underwood, and the late Amy Winehouse.
Barbra Streisand duetted with Bennett on "Smile" for that 2006 disc. She has contended in this category eight times for her solo efforts but never won. She is back this year with "What Matters Most," a collection of tunes by songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman. While the album was well-received, sales were tepid and Babs is likely to lose for the ninth time.
Susan Boyle's Christmas album "The Gift," dominated sales last holiday season. This is her first nod in this category. Her debut disc "I Dreamed a Dream" broke into Best Pop Vocal Album two years ago alongside acts like Katy Perry and Justin Bieber. She's more at home here, where she's likely to win in one of the years to come.
Better known as the creator of animated TV shows like "Family Guy," Seth MacFarlane was a surprise nominee for his "Music Is Better Than Words." Too bad for the crooning newcomer that this is a category where veterans reign.