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 seventh installment in my three-week countdown to February 10. Read below for my picks & pans in one of ’08’s many Grammy categories.
The award: Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals
Past five winners: John Legend, Joss Stone and Van Hunt (“Family Affair”); Beyoncé and Stevie Wonder (“So Amazing”); Alicia Keys and Usher (“My Boo”); Beyoncé and Luther Vandross (“The Closer I Get To You”); Stevie Wonder and Take 6 (“Love’s in the Need of Love Today”)
“Same Girl,” R. Kelly featuring Usher
“Disrespectful,” Chaka Khan featuring Mary J. Blige
“Hate That I Love You,” Rihanna featuring Ne-Yo
“Baby,” Angie Stone featuring Betty Wright
“Bartender,” T-Pain featuring Akon
Who’s Missing: For Grammy voters, it’s too late to apologize to Timbaland. There’s no excuse for leaving his massively popular duet with One Republic — “Apologize” — off this list. Timbo should have won this category, but as it stands he doesn’t even have a chance.
Who Shouldn’t Be There: This is one of those Grammy categories that always pitches contemporary R&B against traditional R&B — so as much as I’d like to complain about Chaka Khan and Angie Stone’s nominations, I understand why they’re there. The other three noms, meanwhile, form a good representation of modern R&B: songs about the girl you hate, the girl who serves you drinks, and the girl you screwed that your friend has too.
Who Should Win: R. Kelly and Usher, if only for the storyline behind “Same Girl”: boy falls in love with girl; boy finds out his best friend is sleeping with her too; boy realizes girl has twin sister and therefore all is well. (Great video here.) It’s just one of those crazy R. Kelly ideas that he can’t go to jail for.
Who Will Win: This is a tough call. Grammy voters tend to award a traditional R&B song in this category, but the one exception to that rule was 2005’s win for Usher and Alicia Keys on “My Boo.” (Note that Usher is one of the contemporary noms this year.) That said, however, “Same Girl” was not nearly as popular as “My Boo,” a Billboard Number One in its year of release. For that reason, I’ll go with Chaka Khan and Mary J. Blige on “Disrespectful.” Both stretch their impressive vocal ranges on the surprisingly funky track.