For Grammy Award guesses, we turn to Ward Gollings, who has been booking and promoting bands and entertainment for more than 20 years in Champaign-Urbana.
He's now the longtime talent buyer and special events coordinator for the Highdive and Cowboy Monkey, both downtown Champaign venues that present live music on a regular basis.
He's also organized and produced numerous annual events, among them The Great Cover Up benefit, which wrapped up last night.
And he's the former tour manager for the band Hum, a Champaign alternative-rock band that signed to major labels when active from 1989 to 2000 and is best known for its 1995 radio hit "Stars."
Gollings, 46, of Urbana, said his favorite band right now is Drive-By Truckers, an alternative country/Southern rock band based in Athens, Ga.
Gollings' predictions and favorites to win the major categories in the 56th annual Grammy Awards tonight:
Song of the Year
Will be: "Royals" by Lorde
Should be: "Royals"
It's catchy. It's pretty. Lorde's 17 and from New Zealand. She's on the cover of the current Rolling Stone. It's a total Cinderella story, and I don't see how she can miss this (as well as other categories). I do like that Katy Perry song, "Roar," though!
Album of the Year
Will be: "Heist" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Should be: "Random Access Memories" by Daft Punk
Tough call here, but I think Macklemore & Ryan Lewis will be holding the hardware. Bummer, though: I mean how can you NOT give the nod to two French dudes constantly wearing suits and futuristic motorcycle helmets?
Best pop duo/group performance
Will be: "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk, featuring Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers (right)
Should be: "Get Lucky"
Now this is where Daft Punk does "get lucky" and come out on top. I'd love them to wear their trademark helmets on stage and just nod and stare at everyone in creepy awkward silence until the producers finally go to commercial.
Record of the Year
Will be: "Locked Out of Heaven" by Bruno Mars
Should be: "Locked Out of Heaven."
Lorde is a one-hit wonder at this point, basically. Bruno Mars is a hit machine. Dude is the headliner at the Super Bowl halftime show this year. No one else in this category could achieve that distinction currently.
Best country album
Will be: "Red" by Taylor Swift
Should be: "Same Trailer Different Park" by Kacey Musgraves
Taylor Swift is an unstoppable force. Four No. 1 records in a row. Four million copies of her current album "Red" sold. Unfortunately, I think Musgraves is a better "country" artist. Give her a couple years and the trophy will be hers.
Best new artist
Will be: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Should be: Kendrick Lamar
This category tends to get my goat, as "new" artists to me are more so people like Jake Bugg or Haim. Alas, I think Macklemore will be the big, big winner at the Grammys and beat out Kendrick. It's a popularity contest, right?!
FAST FACTS: Some things you ought to know about the Grammys
1. For the record ...
The record for the most Grammy Awards is 31, held by Sir Georg Solti, a Hungarian-British conductor who conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 22 years.
Tied for second at 27 apiece are producer/conductor/arranger/composer/instrumentalist Quincy Jones and Champaign's own Alison Krauss, the bluegrass star who is by far the most decorated female at the Grammys (Aretha Franklin is a distant second at 18, and Beyonce has 17).
2. Local ties
Champaign native Kim Richmond is nominated for a Grammy tonight for best instrumental arrangement on the Kim Richmond Concert Jazz Orchestra's track "Invitation" on the ensemble's newest CD, "Artistry A Tribute to Stan Kenton."
The Champaign-born Richmond, 73, studied at the University of Illinois in the early 1960s. An alto saxophonist, he has been involved in the industry both as a player and as a composer/arranger. He lives in the Los Angeles area.