In our continuing countdown to the Jan. 31 Grammy Awards, today we look at the nominees for Best male pop vocal performance.

John Legend, “This Time”
Maxwell, ”Love You”


Jason Mraz, “Make It Mine”
Seal, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”
Stevie Wonder, “All About the Love Again”

Oh, where or where have all the pop boys gone? We have pop girls: Lady GaGa, Pink, Katy Perry… all of whom work almost exclusively in the pop idiom. For the gents, other than Jason Mraz, we have to lean over into R&B and borrow men (very talented ones, no doubt) and songs that weren’t  pop hits. This is a  weak category for lots of reasons, but primarily because we’re in a musical cycle where there are very few solo male artists in pop and rock.  What’s a crying shame here is that the Grammy voters saw fit to ignore artists like Rob Thomas and "American Idol" David Cook, both of whom are legitimate “pop” artists in this category for acts like Wonder. Yes, he’s legendary, but shouldn’t criteria for the category be that you actually get played on pop radio now? 

Another factor is pure timing, John Mayer, who has won or been nominated for this award for the past three years running didn’t release a single or album in time to be eligible. Plus, Justin Timberlake seems to be content to keep appearing on other folks’ records rather than make one of his own. To be sure, he’s all over the nominations. He’s up for best rap/sung collaboration and best rap song with T.I. for “Dead and Gone” and best pop collaboration with vocals with Ciara for “Love Sex Magic.”  Then you have the weird case of acts like Owl City or Five for Fighting, who are basically solo guys, but they count as groups.

So let’s look at who we do have here. Mraz got robbed last year with when “I’m Yours,” still in heavy rotation on lots of stations, didn’t get the Grammy so he may get a make-good with “Make It Mine.” We’re not even sure it was released as an official single. Same with Maxwell’s “Love You.” It didn’t chart in the eligibility period. Yes, the criteria is a single or a track from an eligible album, but this category is padded. Seal did have a modest AC hit with his very nice cover of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” but we’re not particularly happy about it.

Winner : Seal, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”