Jennifer Hudson, Kanye West
No one remembers who wins at the Grammy Awards — besides the people who win and lose — unless the awards are hilariously wrong, like they often are. (Did you know this year's ceremony marks the 20th anniversary of Jethro Tull beating Metallica in the metal category? When Metallica was at its peak?)
What people do remember are incredible performances, like Prince and Beyonce's in 2004, and Kanye West's last year. Here's a list of some of this year's major performers. (Click here for a full list of nominees, watch the awards at 8 pm/ET Sunday on CBS, and follow us on Twitter.)
M.I.A.: The show added the alternately great and annoying songstress amid the huge success of Slumdog Millionaire, for which she provided the tunes. Hopefully she'll sing the record-of-the-year nominated "Paper Planes," which perfectly displays her blending of U.S. hip-hop and third-world cacophony in its tight-yet-lazy groove, gunshots, and lyrical homage to Wrecks-N-Effects' "Rump Shaker," as sung by a children's choir. Oh, and she's extremely pregnant. Look for the average viewer to be freaked out.
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss: Two brilliant and very different artists united by a love of American roots music, who may well walk off with record of the year for their lovely "Please Read The Letter." Their voices sound incredible together — haunt your dreams incredible — even if most people don't properly appreciate the genre in which they're presently having some fun. Also nominated for Album of the Year, they could be a sleeper.
Neil Diamond: How many hours do you think this guy could spend on stage without people getting tired of him? Like fellow performer Stevie Wonder, he reaches across all ages and demographics simply by being awesome.
Coldplay: Is there a more middle-of-the-road band? Coldplay is that guy you date because he seems really deep and cool and intellectual, but nope: He's just British. Eating crisps: Same as eating fries. Watching soccer: Same as watching football. And loving Coldplay: Same as loving Dave Matthews. Still, they write some pretty melodies. Just don't think your armload of nominations make you U2 or anything.
Jennifer Hudson: She's on the ultimate comeback tour — not from career disappointment, but from personal tragedy that would keep almost anyone else down for a long, long time. Look for a rousing performance and a standing ovation.
Jonas Brothers: Are you a 13-year-old girl? Enjoy. Anyone else? Let the kids have their fun. Just don't give them the Best New Artist award.
Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift: Wait, together? We hope so and we're intrigued. Both have a tendency to smile way too much when they're singing, which makes sense for Cyrus, 16, but not so much for the 19-year-old Swift, who can feel free to play up the jilted independent woman thing that fellow performer Carrie Underwood does so well.
U2: One of the best bands ever, but that's not as important as what they'll perform at the Grammys. Their new single, "Get on Your Boots," sounds a little like "Vertigo" and a little like The Escape Club's "Wild Wild West." It's a long way from their best song, and as gorgeous as some of their singles are, they're an album band.
Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo: Ne-Yo writes and performs gorgeous songs about more than the usual let's-buy-a-bottle-of-champers Top 40 topics. "She Got Her Own," salutes independent women in a not-condescending way, and the beat is subtle but addictive. Foxx sings so well on the track you think he might show up Ne-Yo, but no one shows up Ne-Yo. Major props for an inter-song shout-out to the E-40 classic "Captain Save a Hoe."
Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, T.I., and Kanye West: Too... many... rappers... performing... at... once. Maybe the Grammys hope we'll see this as the ultimate posse-cut showdown: Who's the best rapper alive? But that should really be decided by a sober look at their entire careers, not a one-time Grammy performance.
What's your best guess? Who do you think will blow Grammy viewers away?