Betting on the Grammys by Brian Gold for Betfair Canada.

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Specials Betting: The Grammy Awards Offers the Bettor a Lot of Value


By Brian Gold

When it comes to betting on awards shows a lot of people tend to shun them. The reason isn't that they are too difficult to predict but rather they are too easy to forecast.


While the Oscars see the occasional longshot win like Tilda Swinton last year for best supporting actress, for the most part the winners are the favourites and huge favourites almost never lose. Last year Daniel Day Lewis, Javier Bardem, Joel & Ethan Coen and the film No Country for Old Men were all massive favourites to win their respective categories and by all accounts the voting wasn't very close in any of them. And previous years saw similar results. In fact one report stated that Return of the King had over 95% of the votes cast for it when it won best picture. The Golden Globe Awards and Emmy Awards also generally go to the overwhelming favourites. While there is no shame in betting a favourite as my last article pointed out as a general rule most bettors don't bother with a 1/5 favourite regardless of the sport or event because to them the risk isn't worth the reward. The Grammy Awards, on the other hand tends to be much harder to predict and favourites (even overwhelming ones) lose. Just ask Kanye West or Carrie Underwood about that. Graduation by Kanye West was a 1/2 favourite last year to win album of the year and lost to the longest shot on board River: The Joni Letters. Before He Cheats was a 2/5 favourite to win song of the year for Carrie Underwood but the award went to Amy Winehouse's Rehab at almost 8/1 odds. I can go on and on but a history of the awards for the last 5 years shows that in the 4 main categories (best album, best record, song of the year and best new artist) only 5 favourites won among the 20 categories and the average winning payout odds were 5/1. Obviously you have years where every favourite wins thanks to bands like Santana or Alicia Keys but that is the exception rather than the rule.
To determine where the value lay in the Grammies, one really only need to listen to the music and the radio. Rehab was played on the radio constantly in North America while Before He Cheats had a bit of play on country stations but certainly no national exposure. Most critics who heard the songs concurred that Rehab was a better song but they doubted the voters were prepared to give the award to the drug addict from Australia. They were wrong. 20 years ago when Barbara Streisand and Dolly Parton were winning the Grammy awards, the voting was done by the industry that was promoting personality, and righteousness as much as the songs in an attempt to convince critics that music was not at all rebellious. But today's voters seem to be much less interested in "clean personalities" and are more interested in popularity and talent. In 2003 Norah Jones' Don't Know Why was played on the radio day and night but the bettors seemed to believe that the voters were going to give the award to Bruce Springsteen despite the fact the Rising stunk. After all, the Boss was the American icon while Nora Jones was a bit weird. They were wrong and Norah Jones paid off at a juicy 8/1.
There are 4 main categories in the Grammies to consider song of the year, record of the year, album of the year and best new artist. The latter category is self explanatory but there are differences among the first three. Song of the Year awards the songwriter for what the industry considers is the best written song. This includes lyrics, music and artist. Record of the Year also looks at one song but concentrates more on the artist. Not surprisingly song of the year and record of the year usually go to the same song but sometimes the industry hands out the awards differently if they like the song but not so much the singer. In fact this year only 2 songs are nominated for both song of the year and record of the year. Album of the Year awards the best overall album (or CD really) and looks at all the tracks. As a general rule, there needs to be 3-4 popular songs on a CD to win and obviously the more CDs that are sold the more likely the "album" is to win.


With that in mind here are some value plays on Betfair:


Record of the Year: For both song of the year and record of the year I assembled a group together, we turned on Youtube and listened to each of the songs nominated and then had a brainstorming session. The people I arranged were of different age groups and who liked different types of music. The consensus was clear for record of the year that Paper Planes and Please Read the Letter stunk. The singing was atrocious and the song left little to be desired. That left Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis, Chasing Pavements by Adele and Viva La Vida by Coldplay. Ironically Viva La Vida is nominated for practically everything this year although almost everyone agrees the song and CD aren't that good and certainly don't come close to Coldplay's 3rd CD. In fact some music critics say it is their worst CD and is only being recognized due to the popularity of the band. Without doubt it will win something but there is nothing that makes the listener or bettor say "what a great song". My hunch is it will win some of the lesser awards and lose in the main categories. Chasing Pavements is a good song and all in my group agreed it had good rhythm, was enjoyable to listen to and the singing was great. The only criticism of the song was that the video was "weird." Fortunately the votes are cast on the music not the video. Bleeding Love is the favourite and could be tough to beat but at 6/5 odds represents little value. My money and the consensus of the group was that Chasing Pavements was the best all around song and was a value play at 5/2 odds.


Song of the Year: Like record of the year the group liked Chasing Pavements but also enjoyed I'm Yours. Again Viva La Vida was seen as a ridiculous play at almost 6/5 odds while American Boy and Love Song were just not liked very much. As well I'm Yours was on the radio quite indicating it received many requests by listeners. For this category it may be best to take both Chasing Pavements and I'm Yours both available between 4/1 and 5/1 odds.
Album of the Year: The nominees for this category are once again Viva La Vida by Coldplay, Raising Sand by Robert Plant & Allison Krauss, The Carter III by Lil Wayne, In Rainbows by Radiohead and Year of the Gentleman by Ne-Yo. Looking at prior trends it seems pretty clear that the winner of this award tends to go to the CD that sells the most copies. With that in mind Lil' Wayne's album the Carter III which sold 2.8 million copies is the winner although Coldplay's album sold 2.2 million. The others did well also in sales although none came close to the top 2. Lil' Wayne right now is all over the talk show circuits and has a big cult following. And Coldplay's album isn't as good as their third. For that reason one would have to guess that the Carter III is the play which at almost 3/1 odds represents great value for a favourite.

Best New Artist: The nominees here are Jazmine Sullivan, The Jonas Brothers, Adele, Duffy and Lady Antlebellum. Forget the last two as they have no shot. Jazmine Sullivan and the Jonas Brothers are the 2 big favourites but for reasons I can't fathom. The Jonas Brothers have a following with 8-14 year old girls and their grandmothers. Their songs aren't very good and the appeal is confusing. If they win it will be a shock. Jazmine Sullivan also has a great following but her rap/r&b style rarely wins awards. That leaves Adele as the huge value play at 5/1 odds. Not only is Adele the most talented singer of the lot but she is also nominated in 2 of the main categories which none of the other singers can boast. By broadcast time her odds will drop but right now she represents great value.

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