21 Days of Grammies: Part 20

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 twentieth 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: Record of the Year

Past five winners: The Dixie Chicks (“Not Ready to Make Nice”); Green Day (“Boulevard of Broken Dreams”); Ray Charles & Norah Jones (“Here We Go Again”); Coldplay (“Clocks”); Norah Jones (“Don’t Know Why”)

2008 Nominees
“Irreplaceable,” Beyonce
“The Pretender,” Foo Fighters
“Umbrella,” Rihanna
“What Goes Around…Comes Around,” Justin Timberlake
“Rehab,” Amy Winehouse

Who’s Missing: This award is for recording studio values, not actual songwriting skill. (Thus the difference between Song of the Year and Record of the Year.) With that in mind, this category’s biggest snubs are for songs that were not only big hits but also inventively produced: “The Sweet Escape” (Gwen Stefani), “The Way I Are” (Timbaland) and even “Stronger” (Kanye) come to mind.

Who Shouldn’t Be There: The Foo Fighters. Grammy voters decided to jump all over the Foos this year; they’re not only up in this category but also for Album of the Year. (Coincidentally, the Foos were also the first act to sign on for an ’08 Grammy ceremony performance.) But neither “The Pretender” nor Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace represents their best work. That said, their energetic performance may very well be the highlight of the show.

Who Should Win: Amy Winehouse. Going by production values alone, “Rehab” is head and shoulders above everything else on this list. The closest competitor is “Umbrella,” most notably for Rihanna’s vocal flutters. But take a listen to “Rehab” and notice all the bells, strings, handclaps, background vocals and percussion perfectly in place.

Who Will Win: Amy Winehouse. With the way Grammy voters have been courting her to show up at tomorrow’s ceremony, you know she’s in line to win a couple of awards. This is her biggest nomination, and a win would prove a good old fuck-you to her record label — who pressured her to enter rehab early in 2007 and in so doing inspired the song. Sure, it’s a little anticlimactic that she’s currently in rehab, but no one says she can’t do a “yes, yes, yes” remix of her biggest hit.

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