RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And we're counting down this week to Sunday's Grammy Awards. We're hearing the nominees for song of the year. Yesterday, NPR's music critic Ann Powers told us about the song "Grenade," a big hit from Bruno Mars. This morning another nominee, this one a song that's been around for a while.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL OF THE LIGHTS")

CHORUS: All of the lights. All of the lights.

ANN POWERS, BYLINE: This song, "All of the Lights," is from an album that came out in 2010 but is still within the timeframe for Grammy consideration. It's on Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," and its nomination might be a bit of a corrective.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL OF THE LIGHTS")

RIHANNA: (Singing) All of the lights. Fast cars, shooting stars.

CHORUS: All of the lights.

RIHANNA: (Singing) All of the lights.

POWERS: That's pop star Rihanna singing the hook, but it was actually Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas, who wrote the song with Kanye.

The Grammys are meant to spread the wealth among a fairly predetermined group of top artists. If someone is considered problematic - as some people think Kanye is - but also undeniable talented, he or she might get shut out of the four biggest awards. That's what happened to Kanye's album this year. But the voters will find a way to reward the work somehow, even if it's just by nominating one great song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL OF THE LIGHTS")

CHORUS: All of the lights.

KANYE WEST: (Rapping) Cop lights, flash lights, spot lights, strobe lights, street lights.

CHORUS: All of the lights. All of the lights.

MONTAGNE: NPR's music critic Ann Powers is introducing us all week to the Song of the Year nominees.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL OF THE LIGHTS")

RIHANNA: (Singing) Turn up the lights in here, baby. Extra bright, I want y'all to see this. Turn up the lights in here, baby. You know what I need, want you to see everything. Want you to see all of the lights.

KID CUDI: Getting mine, baby. Got to let these, got to let these niggas know, yeah.

MONTAGNE: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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