"Blame It" (Jamie Foxx & T-Pain)
Coming off Jamie Foxx's Intuition album, "Blame It" highlights Foxx's continuous ascent into R&B/Hip-Hop stardom. Coming out in the early part of 2009, Foxx teamed up with pre-"I'm On a Boat" T-Pain to create a club hit. In teaming with T-Pain, Foxx adopted his Auto-Tune infused hip-hop style, creating a melodically cohesive flow to complement the stutter-step rhythmic patterns.
"Lions, Tigers, & Bears" (Jazmine Sullivan)
Seven-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jazmine Sullivan hit us this year with "Lions, Tigers, & Bears." Besides her use of a backing orchestra reminiscent of '60s and '70s soul, which makes us old-school lovers happy, what makes this song worthy of a Grammy nomination is Sullivan's mastery of vocal ranges. It almost sounds as if she has the voices of two different singers, performing a duet with herself.
"Pretty Wings" (Maxwell)
Also nominated for Song of the Year, "Pretty Wings" combines Maxwell's high pitched vocals with some jazzy instrumentals. At times pulling back to close to a whisper, Maxwell teases us with the beauty of his vocals, dancing around the lyrics with twang, rasp, and sky high range.
"Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" (Beyoncé)
Beyoncé served us men this year with a warning in the form "Single Ladies," pulsing with female empowerment. Throughout the past year, this song has become an anthem. Between the now-famous dance steps and Beyoncé's transformation into Sasha Fierce, this song is sure to win some awards, even if not this one. Nevertheless, there is no question Beyoncé is one of a kind, having entranced the music world with her full bodied, emphatic vocals.
"Under" (Pleasure P)
Up for both the Best R&B Song and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, Pleasure P takes it down with his smooth flowing, poetically interesting vocals. Props to the songwriter on this one, throwing down a slew of metaphors, rhymes, and plenty of rich imagery.
- Eric Sandler