Oddsmaker: Do Beyoncé And André 3000 Have Enough Swagu To Beat Kanye And His Dozens Of Friends At The Grammys?

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The Grammys created the awkwardly named Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category ten years ago, around the time Ja Rule's various "thug love" duets were dominating the airwaves. The award recognized a growing sector of popular music that didn't quite fit into the preexisting rap, R&B or pop song awards, and its creation was a prescient move. In 2001, 13% of Billboard's Year-End Hot 100 Songs featured at least one rapper and one singer; in 2011 that number had doubled to 26% (after peaking at 33% in 2010). The category's a little more unpredictable this year, as NARAS snubbed the biggest dancefloor-friendly rapped-and-sung hits of the year ("Give Me Everything," "Party Rock Anthem," "On The Floor," "E.T.") in favor of more urban radio fare.

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Live: Skylar Grey Peeks Out From Behind The Curtain

by Steven J. Horowitz

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Skylar Grey
Dominion
Tuesday, December 6

Better than: Remembering how much you listened to Evanescence back in the day.

Skylar Grey has hustled the last couple of years, writing hits for everyone but herself along the way. The 25-year-old helped pen 2010's "Love the Way You Lie," turning the enigmatic songbird into a hot hip-hop commodity; she went on to notch vocal and songwriting credits on Diddy-Dirty Money's "Coming Home," Lupe Fiasco's "Words I Never Said" and Dr. Dre's Eminem-assisted "I Need a Doctor." Her cantaloupe coo was swoon-worthy yet elusive, reducing even the hardest of top-40 audiophiles to burbling sing-a-longers.

For Skylar, not showing face has been her biggest asset. Releasing mug-shrouding promotional pics and launching a bare-bones website only thickened the mystery surrounding her. But click-savvy surfers shredded her intended secrecy—although her vocal resemblance to the chick singing on Fort Minor's 2006 track "Where'd You Go" made it a bit easier to do so.

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Skylar Grey: The Melodrama Of Glee, The Sadness Of Nu-Metal, The Blah Of OneRepublic


If you've tuned into a radio over the past year or so you've probably heard the handiwork of Skylar Grey, the singer-songwriter who's helped pen the bombastic, inescapable hip-pop ballads "Love The Way You Lie," "Coming Home," and "I Need A Doctor." In the early '00s she also did hook-girl duty on the album by Fort Minor, the solo project of Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda; that's her winsome voice on the hook of "Where'd You Go," which in retrospect might be one of the most unlikely (and bummed-out) canaries in the pop coalmine of the past decade.

Grey's recent songwriting output has possessed a particular brand of sad-sack bombast that sounds to these ears like another pop-cultural aftereffect of Glee—these songs hit you over the head with high-school-intense, minor-key-emotion from their first note, even when trying to engage in the quiet-to-loooouuuud progression that you hear on "Coming Home" (above). (Although I will admit that the way Diddy spits out "I hate that song" is pretty cathartic to hear.) This morning she premiered her first solo single, "Invisible," on Ryan Seacrest's radio show, and if you were waiting for a song to get sad to while the sun was shining, well, you're in luck!


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