Grammys: Will Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse keep Adele from sweep?

2011 has been the year of Adele. Her sophomore album, “21,” has sold over 10 million copies worldwide so far and the album’s first two singles, “Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You” have hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. In addition, the “Rolling in the Deep” video won three MTV Video Music Awards.

Adele, who won Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (“Chasing Pavements”), at the 2009 Grammy Awards, is poised for a full on Grammy sweep at the 2012 Grammy ceremony. “Rolling in the Deep” will surely be nominated for Record and Song of the Year, Best Pop Performance and Best Short Form Video. “21” will contend for Album of the Year and Best Pop Album.

There’s a chance that Adele could win all six categories since Grammy voters are notorious for showering popular female artists with multiple Grammys in one night. Beyonce, Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, Alanis Morissette, the Dixie Chicks, Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill and Alison Krauss have all won five Grammys in a single calendar year. Beyonce broke her own record by winning six at the 2010 ceremony. Unfortunately, Adele may not be able to join this club if voters respond well to “Duets II,” Tony Bennett’s new album that contains 17 collaborations with high profile artists.

Tony Bennett has a rich history with Grammy voters. To date, the veteran crooner has won 15 Grammys including a 1967 Record of the Year win for his signature tune “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” Bennett also won Album of the Year for his 1994 “Unplugged” disc and has won 10 Grammys in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category.

His new album will likely add more gold to his collection. Early reviews are very positive and the album will surely debut at #1 on the Billboard charts. “Duets II” will probably be a hot seller throughout the holiday season thanks to the well-received “Body and Soul,” a duet with the late Winehouse that is doing well with fans and critics and could be a late season entry in the Grammy race.

“Body and Soul” was written and first recorded in 1930 so it’s ineligible for Song of the Year, but it is definitely eligible for Record of the Year. Bennett has promoted the song extensively and even gave fans a preview at the MTV Video Music Awards. “Body and Soul” is the kind of event record that could, if nominated, upset Adele in the Record of the Year category. Ray Charles and Norah Jones staged a Record of the Year upset with 2004’s “Here We Go Again” while Robert Plant and Alison Krauss won in 2008 for “Please Read the Letter.”

The Grammy eligibility period ends Sept. 30 so the Bennett/Winehouse single and album will be fresh in voters’ minds. Grammy voters are often biased toward music that is released at the end of the eligibility period. Last year’s Album of the Year winner, Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs,” was released near the end of the eligibility period.

Several well respected veterans — including Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, kd lang, Mariah Carey and Sheryl Crow — appear on “Duets II” along with newer acts like Lady Gaga, Michael Buble, Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood. Most of these artists have never won Album of the Year so voters could kill several birds with one stone by awarding Bennett’s album the top prize; all artists who appear on an Album of the Year winner get a Grammy.

And despite winning five Grammys in 2008, including Record and Song of the Year for “Rehab,” Winehouse’s critically lauded disc “Back to Black” lost Album of the Year to Herbie Hancock’s Joni Mitchell tribute album in a shocking upset. Hancock’s album also featured a slew of veterans, such as Tina Turner, who up until then had never won Album of the Year. Voters could easily give Bennett Album of the Year as a makeup award for all of its featured artists. Franklin, for instance, despite winning 18 Grammys, has never contended for Album of the Year.

Grammy voters have shied away from veteran acts in the Record and Album of the year categories the past few years, but “Duets II” looks poised to be a big critical and commercial success so it looks to be a likely nominee in both races at this point. In addition to nominations for Record and Album of the Year, Bennett will likely contend in Best Traditional Pop Album and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Bennett’s impressive album and sentiment over Winehouse’s death could push him over the top in some categories. Stay tuned because an Adele Grammy sweep may not be a foregone conclusion after all.

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