02/14/2005 at 01:00 AM EST
"You Had Me"
Since Alicia Keys's stirring performance of "If I Ain't Got You" was dubiously relegated to the best female R&B vocal category, these ladies can breathe a sigh of relief. Aside from Björk, who is too alternative for this crowd, each woman has a real shot. Grammy darling Crow has already won nine times, but this particular cut didn't make the deepest of impressions. Stefani's driving dance track is more of a production showcase than a vocal one; she can wait until next year. Britain's Stone is soulful beyond her 17 years—and Britney-esque looks—on the funky "You Had Me." But we'll go for the smoky stylings of Jones, who won here in 2003 for "Don't Know Why." Her understated, nuanced turn is the perfect combination of jazz cool and country sweetness.
Best New Artist
Los Lonely Boys
Joss Stone [star]Kanye West
Gretchen Wilson [star]
Although we would have liked to have seen neo-soul newcomer Van Hunt or jazz-pop piano man Jamie Cullum be nominated, each of these artists has a credible case for being here. Los Lonely Boys, however, smack of being one-hit wonders with "Heaven," while Maroon 5, despite the triple-platinum success of Songs About Jane
, seem like little more than last year's answer to matchbox twenty. With a Grammy-leading 10 nods, West feels overnominated, and at this point he is still better as a producer than as a rapper. That leaves blue-eyed-soul sensation Stone and Wilson—country's self-proclaimed "Redneck Woman." We'd be happy to see either win, since both women seem to have what it takes to be around for years to come. Call this one a tie.