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 sixth 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 R&B Song
Past five winners: Mary J. Blige (“Be Without You”); Mariah Carey (“We Belong Together”); Alicia Keys (“You Don’t Know My Name”); Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z (“Crazy In Love”); Erykah Badu (“Love Of My Life”)
“Beautiful Flower,” India.Arie
“Hate That I Love You,” Rihanna
“No One,” Alicia Keys
“Teachme,” Musiq Soulchild
“When I See U,” Fantasia
Who’s Missing: The most noticeable drop is Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable,” which is up for Record of the Year but neither Best Pop or Best R&B song. Also missing is “Don’t Matter,” the only Akon song I can actually tolerate. (If you enjoy his other work, then you’d probably like the soundtrack to Alvin and the Chipmunks.) But the biggest miss in my opinion is “Beautiful Girls,” the Sean Kingston track that turned “Stand By Me” into summer’s biggest hit. His “Me Love” would have also fit in this category.
Who Shouldn’t Be There: Fantasia. It’s not surprising that she made the list — “When I See U” is a blatant rewrite of Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together,” which won in 2006. And Musiq Soulchild should be left off as well, as “Teachme” is neither a good song nor the best off his 2007 album Luvanmusiq. (Teachme grammar, perhaps?)
Who Should Win: India.Arie. First, there’s an uplifting story behind “Beautiful Flower”: its initial proceeds went entirely to Oprah Winfrey’s leadership program. But it’s also a smoldering piece of soul — just Arie armed with her all-powerful acoustic guitar. (The song and video are here.)
Who Will Win: Alicia Keys. She’s a Grammy darling, picking up nine awards with just two albums. She’s also won Best R&B Song twice, for “Fallin'” and “You Don’t Know My Name,” respectively. This year, she’s only nominated in two categories, so expect her to take home both — whether deserved or not.