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Grammy countdown: Book Beyonce for song of the year?


The category: Song of the year

The field at a glance: This is starting to sound familiar, isn't it? The 15 nominations of the Grammys' top three categories -- album, record and song -- are spread among seven artists. Song of the year, which is awarded to a composer, closely mirrors the record of the year category, except studio maestros the Black Eyed Peas, despite turning "Mazel tov!" into a lyrical hook, have to sit this one out.

In the Peas' place is an exquisite R&B single from Maxwell, "Pretty Wings," a song that will be going against some of the top-charting singles of the year. Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" is packed with gambling metaphors and silly turns of phrase ("bluffin' with my muffin"), and comes from the complete opposite end of the songwriting world as Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody," a heart-on-sleeve earnest rock ballad.

Country star Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" plays out like an effervescent look into a high school diary, and Beyoncé's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" is the minimalist call-and-response hit, one that's part taunt, part slap-in-the-face and part fairy tale idealism. 

And the Grammy goes to? It's rare for a dance song to take this category, but "Single Ladies" was a club hit with an upbeat and feisty message. Its success should steal votes from Maxwell. Watch out, however, for a strong rock contingent push for "Use Somebody." This should be a tight race between Beyoncé and Kings of Leon, but with Beyoncé also up for album of the year, she should have the edge.

And who deserves it? Not the Grammys' best song of the year crop, but "Pretty Wings" was a tastefully restrained example of what Maxwell does best.

-- Todd Martens

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Comments () | Archives (7)

Beyonce deserves this award. She has never won any Grammys in a major category. She has been snubbed many of times. Hopefully, the elite realize she is consistent and she has proven to have longevity. She has been in the game for over 10 years and giving us hit after hit.

She can sing. But the choreography and dancing in this clip are embarrassing.

And the lyrics, trite.

That's the pop world, trite and embarrassing, and once in a while, fun.

But it beats Mel Gibson.

Is Kanye West deciding?

Well, I really hope Beyonce wins it ,she deserves it.

Mr. Martens,

I don't mean to attack you, but with all due respect, your writing shows a clear ignorance of the major Grammy categories and their history. I would love for Beyonce to win Song of the Year, but the "analysis" (or lack thereof) written above completely ignores the history of this category, especially recent history. You say it's rare for a dance song to win here? Um, it's more than rare, try this: a real dance song has NEVER won Song of the Year!

It's funny that you dismissed Maxwell and Swift so quickly, when actually they stand the BEST chance of winning. First consider that dance songs, fast songs, and songs that owe a lot to the production almost always DO NOT win in this category. And here you have two dance/fast/production-heavy songs from Beyonce and Lady Gaga, which means whatever small contingent of voters who probably opted for the likes of "Umbrella" (which ultimately lost in this category) will now be split between "Single Ladies" and "Poker Face" and well...either one of those winning a Grammy is about as likely as anyone beating Monique this year for Best Supporting Actress.

If you had actually glanced at even some recent past winners -- instead of just lazily putting together an uninformed prediction -- you would know that this category might as well be called Ballad of the Year, since slower/maudlin songs usually win (in the past 10 years alone: "Daughters" by John Mayer, "Don't Know Why" by Jesse Harris, "Fallin" by Alicia Keys, "My Heart Will Go On" by James Horner and Will Jennings, "Dance With My Father" by Luther Vandross, "Sometimes You Can't Male It On Your Own" by U2, "Not Ready to Make Nice" by The Dixie Chicks) so, once again, you can automatically eliminate Beyonce and Lady Gaga. The rest are very much in contention.

Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" represents the perennial (give or take a year in between) Big Radio Hit Rock Ballad that is usually nominated but fails to win for groups that aren't Santana or U2 (Goo Dolls "Iris" and Train's "Drops of Jupiter" just to name a couple of recent losers). They have a much better shot at Record of the Year where the old bias against group winners has faded in the past 10 years, giving Grammys to sensitive rockers like Coldplay's "Clocks", U2's "Walk On" and Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams." Note of course that none of those songs won the corresponding Song of the Year category. So that leaves us with:

Taylor Swift and Maxwell. Both of whom are VERY much in sync with the profile of recent Song of the Year winners. Both of their songs go down easy, and both of the songwriters are artists who have a reputation for being "singer-songwriters" (whatever that means today) i.e. sensitive souls who write their own music with as little production adornment as possible. Swift boasts the bigger hit, is featured in all of the Top Three categories, and is still benefiting from the fallout goodwill of Kanye-gate. But Maxwell's song is more in the tradition of a ballad (which is a STRONG plus in this category), and he has the benefit of not sounding (and being) a bubbly teenage girl. His song is also more lyric-heavy, which voters sometimes prefer, viewing Song of the Year LITERALLY as the one with the most "writing."

This one's tough, but I'd probably go with Taylor Swift's "You Belong to Me" if only because I think Maxwell could lose some votes to the few R&B voters who probably want Beyonce to take this (and every category the superstar is featured in). But make no mistake, this race is between the two of them and it's very close, with Kings of Leon as a distant (but still possible) spoiler.

I'm not trying to attack you sir, but if you're going to do Predictions on a major site like the LA Times, shouldn't you know something about the awards history? You made a similar galling error in the Album of the Year category where you quickly dismissed Dave Matthews as having no chance of winning, even though the history of this category would place Dave Matthews as the MOST LIKELY to win i.e. a seemingly superfluous, pop-culturally irrelevant nomination for an old school group of actual musicians who used to garner decent reviews more than a decade ago, and now competing against four “hip” pop acts. The Grammys have turned their Album of the Year category into a Veteran Honorary Award at the expense of hipper pop acts (Bob Dylan beating Radiohead; Santana beating The Backstreet Boys and TLC; Steely Dan beating Eminem; Ray Charles beating Alicia Keys and Usher; U2 beating Mariah Carey's comeback and Gwen Stefani; Herbie Hancock beating Amy Winehouse; Alison Krauss and Robert Plant beating Coldplay, Radiohead and Lil Wayne) and some of those wins -- like Hancock and Steely Dan -- were genuine WTF moments. You're kidding yourself if you don't think Dave Matthews can pull off the same trick. Beyonce is certainly in contention for Album of the Year (she benefits from having the most nominations and being perceived arguably as The Artist of the Year) but no way is Dave Matthews out of it.

I don't know if you've predicted Record of the Year yet, but I beg you, peruse the last 20 years of winners and take note of trends and do some actual analysis before hastily proclaiming...oh I dunno...Lady Gaga as the front-runner or something (I'll give you an early tip: Madonna's "Ray of Light" -- the only other Best Dance Recording nominee to be up for Record of the Year -- lost the top prize to Celine Dion, so I wouldn't call it for Gaga if I were you).

Anyone but Taylor Swift please!

I just hope the hell Beyonce doesn't win sh*t. She is so overrated and in actuality Lady GaGa's cd as well as Taylor Swifts cd was much better. I think Beyonce is too damn old to be recording the type of childish melarchy that she records and at some point her 30+ years of age will be descended upon her obsessed fanbase who still thinks she's in her 20's. If Beyonce wants to appeal to the masses the teenagers as well as the older crowd, her age and older, she would push to have more mature music on her cd instead of singing about a videophone at her age. We won't even get on the leotards that's she finds appealing to wear in front of young boys while crawling, gyrating and pulsating on stage as if she was in a Strip club, but I guess they get what they pay for. The parents of these children should be brought to justice for allowing them to go to such an X-rated show. Taylor Swifts cd was age appropriate, probably more dramatic and mature as well, as was Lady GaGa who is a true talent in my book. But we shall see when the time comes. I'm rooting for GaGa and Taylor, Beyonce hang it up.


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