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It's a Can't-Miss Year for the Ladies

January 05, 2002|Marc Weingarten

Given the current R&B renaissance, Grammy voters could have it both ways this year: They could nominate artists that sold well and also had something compelling to offer listeners.

The female categories, in particular, were a can't-miss proposition, what with strong debuts from Alicia Keys and India.Arie, a great dance album from Destiny's Child and a smattering of fine singles from other artists.

All of the female R&B vocal nominees are worthy of inclusion. Look for Keys to snag a statuette, thought Jill Scott's sultry live version of "A Long Walk" is perhaps the most imaginative vocal display of the bunch.

The male vocal nominees do not offer as many sublime moments. If sales trump quality, then Usher will get the nod, but Musiq Soulchild's "Love," though hardly the strongest track on his debut album, is a fine showcase for his supple voice.

In the group or duo category, look for eminence grise Ronald Isley and the Isley Brothers to win with "Contagious," a strong echo of the band's classic bedroom ballads of the '70s.

In a nice bit of twisted Grammy logic, Missy Elliott's "Get Ur Freak On," arguably the best all-around single of the year, received its only R&B nomination in the best song category. Keys is the front-runner in this category, which salutes the songs' writers, but Arie's righteous anthem "Video" is most worthy of a win.

Voter sympathy could help Aaliyah's fine self-titled album win a posthumous award, though a Grammy for either Arie's or Keys' terrific debuts would make more sense.


Marc Weingarten

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