This category may be the best example of why all I'm doing is talking about what I liked most and not what I think is actually likely to win. It's also probably the toughest grouping.
The nominees for the 2012 Grammy for Song of the Year are:
Jeff Bhasker, Stacy Ferguson, Malik Jones, Warren Trotter, Kanye West
From My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Ted Dwane, Ben Lovett, Marcus Mumford, Country Winston
From Sigh No More
Brody Brown, Claude Kelly, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Bruno Mars, Andrew Wyatt
From Doo-Wops & Hooligans
From Bon Iver
Adele Adkins, Paul Epworth
Over the last couple of weeks, I've wanted to pick different songs at different times. When I decided Rolling in the Deep was my favorite of those nominated for record of the year, I wanted it to win every category it's in. When the emo kicked in, and I imagined a cross-country train ride while watching the snow fall on the world passing by, I knew Holocene's simple beauty was unmatched. But then I found The Cave's inescapabale references to Plato's Allegory of the Cave unbelievably timely for a former philosophy major like me who's on a mission to have a different kind of year.
But my winner is All of the Lights.
Kanye assembles Rihanna, Alicia Keys, John Legend, The-Dream, Elly Jackson of La Roux, Fergie, Kid Cudi, Ryan Leslie, Charlie Wilson, and Elton John (among others). And not only does he manage to not make it sound like a USA for Africa charity single, the integration is so seamless, you don't know who you've heard until you check the liner notes. As ensemble pieces go, it's Love Actually instead of Rat Race.
And when he pairs that with a chorus which may borrow from the idea of sunlight as a disinfectant to expose a story the verses tell about a man setting a path of destruction (for himself and those he loves), Kanye's got a production of enormity.
Breaking that "no comparisons" rule again, Holocene is gorgeous, and Justin Vernon's explanation of it as "this idea that places are times and people are places and times are... people" gives it great depth. But its epochs are his, and despite how beautifully he presents them, for me as the listener, they're untouchable. And as inspired as I am by the escape The Cave offers, I don't marvel that it could come to be.
I marvel at All of the Lights.