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The 36th Annual Grammy Awards : R&B : R&B Blunders but Worthy Rap Victors

March 02, 1994|DENNIS HUNT

If the winners in the R&B categories--Ray Charles, Toni Braxton, Sade and Janet Jackson--are really representative of the genre's best, R&B is in deep trouble. And if the voters didn't bungle the rap voting, it was largely because they couldn't--with that list of quality nominees, a blindfolded vote would have yielded a worthy winner.

As usual, Grammy voters chose to honor a distinguished veteran, in this case Ray Charles. But "A Song for You" isn't remotely as good as the work he did back when he truly was the genius of soul music. More deserving contemporary artists, notably Tevin Campbell and Babyface, are also-rans again.

But in the female vocal category, the voters blundered by going for the newcomer. Braxton's bland "Another Sad Love Song" is far from this category's best performance. In fact, it's not even the best song on her own debut album. In this case the veteran--Aretha Franklin for "Someday We'll All Be Free"--was far and away the best choice.

Sade's triumph in the R&B vocal category doesn't make sense either. The lightweight "No Ordinary Love" was the worst of a feeble field of candidates. The only quality song in the bunch, Tony Toni Tone's "Anniversary," was also much more deserving of best R&B song than the winner, Janet Jackson's routine "That's the Way Love Goes."

The academy does deserve a pat on the back for nominating so many quality songs in the rap categories. Can anyone honestly quarrel with the winners--Digable Planets for group effort, and Dr. Dre, who picked up the solo award?

Amazingly, the normally conservative academy members didn't overload the rap categories with pop-oriented rap. Maybe the quality of that more-wholesome genre has fallen so far off that they were forced to recognize such notorious rappers as Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Cypress Hill.

Suggestion for next year: how about more than two rap categories?

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