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THE GRAMMY AWARDS | AWARDS BY GENRE : R & B

Mixing Quality With Safe Bets

February 22, 2001|MARC WEINGARTEN

Rejoice, Grammy critics--the voters kinda, sorta got it right this year in the R&B field. The most heartening development? In a few significant categories, quality trumped commercial success.

R&B sex bomb D'Angelo was a big winner, with awards for best male vocal with "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" and best album for "Voodoo." If Grammy precedent is taken into account, both awards would have to be considered upsets, given that D'Angelo--while no commercial slouch--was battling such sales heavyweights as Sisqo, R. Kelly and Toni Braxton. He's a worthy winner by any measure.

Destiny Child's best song winner, "Say My Name," was a huge hit and a safe choice for Grammy voters. Consider it a decent selection, but Erykah Badu's "Bag Lady" should have snagged this award. As for "Say My Name's" win in the duo or group vocal category, it was certainly no match artistically for Lucy Pearl's "Dance Tonight."

Braxton is a strong traditional R&B singer, but the synthetically brazen "He Wasn't Man Enough," which won her the female vocal award, can't match the earthy artistry of its main rivals, "Bag Lady" and Jill Scott's "Gettin' in the Way."

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