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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This week, NPR's music critic Ann Powers has been telling us about tunes that are in contention for the Grammys' Song of the Year, including this...

ANN POWERS, BYLINE: This is Mumford and Sons, with their song "The Cave."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE CAVE")

MUMFORD AND SONS: (Singing) So tie me to a post and block my ears. I can see widows and orphans through my tears. I know my call despite my faults and despite my growing fears...

POWERS: If you watched the Grammys last year you might remember the band during the telecast. This British folk rock band wasn't that well-known across America before last year's performance. But right after it, their sales went way up, more so than any of the other acts on the show. They didn't even win anything that night.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE CAVE")

SONS: (Singing) I have other things to fill my time. You take what is yours and I'll take mine. Now let me...

POWERS: But did Mumford's Grammy performance give the song enough of a bump that it had a second life? The Grammys do cultivate their own stars, and Mumford's trajectory exemplifies that. So I'm going to go with yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE CAVE")

SONS: (Singing) 'Cause I need freedom now. And I need to know...

INSKEEP: That's NPR music critic Ann Powers. And tomorrow she'll be back for a Fuller look ahead to the Grammy Awards, which are coming on Sunday.

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