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Showdown at the Grammys

THE BALTIMORE SUN

THE GRAMMY AWARD FOR ALBUM OF THE YEAR IS THE LAST award given out during the ceremony, so you could say it's the most highly anticipated. Imagine how the nominees feel as they sit through two hours of long, slow monologues, bombastic performances and tearful acceptance speeches, waiting to find out if their peers really liked their albums.

Of course, it's hard to predict which artist at the 48th Grammy Awards ceremony, to be broadcast Wednesday on CBS, will walk away with the evening's most coveted prize. After all, the Recording Academy occasionally goes against its tradition of playing safe by rewarding a complex artistic work. (Think U2's The Joshua Tree, which won album of the year in 1988, or Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which was chosen in 1999, or OutKast's Speakerboxxx / The Love Below, which got the nod in 2004.)

48TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS / / Show airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. / / CBS

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