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Grammy countdown: Book Beyonce for song of the year?

January 25, 2010 | 12:18 pm

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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