The Traditionalists

Smallz + Raskind

Joel McNeely & Seth MacFarlane

Ask Family Guy creator MacFarlane, 38, what winning a Grammy for his big-band album would mean, and he's ready with a quip: "It would mean that everyone from Tony Bennett to Barbra Streisand to Susan Boyle has passed away prior to the ceremony." Indeed, he acknowledges that many are scratching their heads over Music Is Better Than Words, his musical debut, up for two awards. (His Family Guy song "Christmastime Is Killing Us" scored a nom as well.) But his composer McNeely, 52, whose credits range from American Dad to Disney's Tinker Bell, insists MacFarlane is more knowledgeable about traditional pop (for which the album was nominated) than anyone he's ever known. "It's a little freaky," McNeely says of MacFarlane's ability to tick off details about virtually any classic song, including the recording year, studio and players. "He has a genuine love for this music." MacFarlane's goal is for others to find they do, too. "If there's any service that we're doing with this album and the shows," adds MacFarlane, "it is to expose the public -- certainly the younger part -- to the sound of a live orchestra."

Photographed by Smallz + Raskind on Jan. 21 at Capitol Studios in Hollywood

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