Why should you care about the Grammy Awards? Very valid question. But let’s face it: as the Writer’s Strike threatens to shut down more and more red carpet events, the 50th Annual Grammies may be the only constant in this year’s lagging awards season. In that light, the following is the first installment in my three-week countdown to February 10. Read below for my picks and pans in one of 2008’s many Grammy categories.
The award: Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
Past five winners: Justin Timberlake and T.I. (“My Love”); Jay-Z featuring Linkin Park (“Numb/Encore”); Usher featuring Lil’ Jon and Ludacris (“Yeah!”); Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z (“Crazy in Love”); Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland (“Dilemma”)
“I Wanna Love You,” Akon featuring Snoop Dogg
“Kiss Kiss,” Chris Brown and T-Pain
“Let It Go,” Keyshia Cole featuring Missy Elliott and Lil’ Kim
“Umbrella,” Rihanna featuring Jay-Z
“Good Life,” Kanye West featuring T-Pain
Who’s Missing: Timbaland, Timbaland, Timbaland. No love for “The Way I Are,” one of 2007’s most recognizable hip hop singles. And Timbo produced “Make Me Better,” the rap/sung collaboration between Ne-Yo and Fabolous that I mentioned yesterday. He has a history of getting snubbed by Grammy voters—including a non-win for Producer of the Year in 2006, when he produced Loose (Nelly Furtado) and FutureSex/LoveSounds (Justin Timberlake). That means he helmed “Promiscuous Girl,” “Maneater,” “Say It Right,” “Sexyback,” “My Love” and “Summer Love” all in the same year. No award.
Who Shouldn’t Be There: Forgive me for harping on the year’s most incessant song, but how can “Umbrella” be referred to as half rapped, half sung? Some radio versions of the song cut out Jay-Z’s opening lines, and his presence is more an introduction than collaboration. And by the same token, there’s virtually no rapping in “Kiss Kiss.”
Who Should Win: “Let It Go,” as a testament to Missy Elliott’s songwriting and production abilities. You probably haven’t heard the song, but it lead Cole’s second album, Just Like You, to sell a million copies. And you know Keyshia from her scene-stealing vocals on Diddy’s “Last Night.”
Who Will Win: Rihanna and Jay-Z. Grammy voters have a history of handing Jay-Z golden statuettes, including two in this category over the last five years. And “Umbrella” is likely to get stiffed in the big categories like Record and Song of the Year, so giving it small wins will be the best way to atone.