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Grammy countdown: Coldplay vs. Mraz in best song race?

January 29, 2009 | 12:53 am

Grammy countdown: Song of the year


The field at a glance: There's Coldplay, and then there are four artists who will lose to Coldplay.

Face it, the Brit pop stars have this field, as well as record of the year, likely locked up. "Viva La Vida," with its triumphant strings, momentous church bells and seemingly important lyrics -- something about revolution and/or religion is mixed in there -- moves swiftly and feels significant. It even made a commercial for a MP3 player seem like an extravagant occasion.

Adele's "Chasing Pavements" is nice. The song builds to a heavily orchestrated chorus, one that lends the soulful tale of heartbreak a bit of an epic feel. And Adele is certainly the best pure singer of the bunch, but she's a newbie, and not as obvious a vocal force as an Amy Winehouse. She'll be rewarded elsewhere -- hopefully as best new artist.

Compared to Adele and Duffy, Sara Bareilles' "Love Song" is downright slight, and forgettable. Not that such traits take it out of Grammy contention. Our Grammy prognosticating pal at HitFix reminds us that this is an award show that once bestowed accolades upon a song such as "Wind Beneath My Wings." Yet "Love Song" was propelled to the top of the chart solely because it was in a commercial, and Bareilles doesn't have much of an identity beyond it.

But surely there must be someone who can upset Coldplay?

It won't be Estelle and her "American Boy" featuring Kanye West. For one, we'll bring up the Kanye Curse. The man has 10 Grammys in his trophy chest, and all of them are confined to genre fields. This is an amazing feat, considering he averages eight to 12 Grammy nominations per album.

So Estelle, despite releasing a bashfully playful dance number, is out. Additionally, Estelle clearly is not a favorite of Recording Academy voters, having been wrongly shut out of the best new artist field and any major R&B nominations.

That leaves Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours," the male bookend to Colbie Caillat's "Bubbly." Pop & Hiss is going to get right to the point here: While this was a top-10 hit, it's also the most ingratiating song nominated for a Grammy in 2009. There's no reason to listen past the first verse, when Mraz sings like a little puppy dog that you're "so hot" that he's melted. Enough, but what follows is a balmy, day-at-the-beach guitar, and show-off vocal phrasing -- there's no reason to try to say the word "do" a dozen different ways.

Regardless, the song isn't a serious contender to best Coldplay's "Viva La Vida," but it is not to be taken as lightly as it sounds either. Look for it to win best male pop vocal performance. Here, the prize should be awarded to Estelle, but it will go to Coldplay.

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times