Grammy Row 08: Best R&B Female Vocal ‘Nominees’ Reviewed

love of self, a significant other, family and life lessons are the primary themes.” With critically acclaimed songs and fan favorites like “Savior,” “Superwoman,” “Like You’ll Never See Me Again,” and “Teenage Love Affair,” Keys’ ode to love and experience may earn the singer her second Grammy nod for Best female two years in a row (“No One” won this very award earlier this year). Following Keys’ with plenty of ‘love & experience’ is Mary J. Blige. Issuing “Growing Pains” last year, Mary J. Blige quickly let the world know that she was “Just Fine” and that very statement earned her a Grammy nod. While Blige lost to Alicia Keys’ last year, the singer kept pushing through with “Stay Down,” a fan favorite and second single from “Growing Pains.” Even though Mary has been through some rough times the Queen of R&B/soul has had several career milestones including her 2007 wins at the Grammy’s for the hit album “The Breakthorugh” and the Best R&B song winning “Be Without You”. The question is can Mary do it again ? With mixed reviews on “Growing Pains,” including a less than friendly review from Blender that says: “It’s an implicit recognition that in love there’s really nothing new, just flirting and fights and make-up sex,” Mary J. Blige may have some trouble at the Grammys. However, as the Queen says “Love Is All We Need,” so lets hope for the best. “Heaven Sent,” “I Remember” and “Was It Really Worth It,” — if you know these songs then you know who I’m talking about — to some she’s been dubbed ‘the new Mary,’ but don’t tell Mary we said that. Even Keyshia’s given the Queen credit for providing plenty of inspiration, so with that out the way “Just Like You,” Keyshia Cole’s already Grammy-nominated album carried through much of 2008 with the aforementioned records, two of which became chart-topping R&B singles. So how will Ms. Cole fair at the Grammy’s ? With a well received album and near record breaking single entitled “Heaven Sent” Keyshia Cole looks well poised to attend the Grammy’s with that Kodak smile. Noted by All Music Guide as a “very good album… where Cole’s voice grows from an occasionally powerful emotive device into a versatile instrument” the ASCAP Award winning singer might have the goods to snag her third Grammy nod. Moving into 2008 releases, Mariah Carey, who reclaimed her career with the “Emancipation of Mimi” between 2005-2006 returned with “E=MC2” this spring. While the effort failed to capture the mega-success that ‘Mimi’ did, the “Touch My Body” songbird’s follow up has been critically acclaimed by several outlets including, Billboard, MTV, and The Observer. With each outlet agreeing that Mariah sounds ’emancipated’ on this effort, Jody Rosen of Blender went further by saying that Mariah “has definitely been emancipated – from her need to decorate every damn song with more octaves than Maria Callas.” Carey’s effort was sustained with the singles “Touch My Body,” “Bye Bye,” “I Stay In Love” and possibly the more upbeat and worthy single “I’ll Be Lovin’ U Long Time”. Rounding out the top five is Def Jam recording artist Rihanna. While the singer’s 2007 effort “Good Girl Gone Bad” is out of the running for Best Album, the star’s reloaded edition gives her a chance to nab a ‘song-related’ award. Seemingly putting out two albums worth of singles, as of November the total from “Good Girl Gone Bad” is eight, Rihanna has become one of this year’s most dominant female artists. Issuing the singles “Don’t Stop The Music,” “Disturbia,” and “Rehab” this year Rihanna’s chances look strong, however, the single “Take A Bow” may just put the singer on top. Critically acclaimed by Billboard Magazine as a “velvety ballad that ticks along with well-applied piano and strings” “Take Bow,” often compared to Beyonce’s Grammy-nominated “Irreplaceable,” albeit “lifeless” according to, is at the very least a track to review. Up for debate this year is Beyonce’s “If I Were A Boy”. With the official Grammy nomination deadline in mind Beyonce’s now hit single was reportedly submitted well after September 30th making it ineligible for the 51st Annual awards. There have been conflicting reports as to whether the song will make the cut, be granted an exception or be cast for next years awards. Should the single make the cut it is a worthy opponent, but possibly in another category. After a successful Grammy run with ‘B-Day’ Beyonce has another chance at a Grammy nod with Justin Timberlake. While we are not reviewing the Best Collaboration field, the singer’s duet with Timberlake on “Until The End Of Time,” released last November, became a Billboard Hot 100 and R&B/Hip Hop songs hit. Other major contenders, who by the way have released some of the best vocally defining records this year, for Best Female Vocal Performance include Jazmine Sullivan, Jennifer Hudson, and Erykah Badu. Your Turn: Who is deserving of a Grammy and why ? (Even if they’re not on this short list please share your thoughts in comments below) Click Here to see the Official 2009/51st Annual Grammy Award nominees * Please note: This editorial is purely for review purposes and is not representative of official nominations. All noted artists were reviewed based upon album releases between October 2007 and September 2008. Official nominees will be revealed Wednesday, Dec. 3


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