Beyonce and Taylor Swift, as expected, were the leading nominees for the 52nd annual Grammy Awards. Beyonce received 10 nominations; Swift pulled in eight. Both women are up for the "Big Three" awards-Album, Record and Song of the Year. But so, in a surprise, is dance/pop sensation Lady Gaga. The Recording Academy, which bestows the Grammys, has been slow to embrace mainstream dance/pop in the past. Madonna didn't receive a nomination in one of the "Big Three" categories until 1999, after 15 years of hits, when she was cited for her Ray Of Light album and single.
The other big surprise in the nominations was the poor showing, at least in the marquee categories, of Kanye West. West's first three albums were all finalists for Album of the Year, but his fourth release, 808s & Heartbreak, was passed over for that award. (It didn't even get a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album. West's first three albums won as Best Rap Album, but this one was slotted in the pop field.) West's smash "Heartless" was also passed over for Record of the Year, despite covers by The Fray and Kris Allen, which boosted its profile. West clearly seems to have been hurt by his widely-criticized rudeness toward Swift at the Video Music Awards.
Swift is the youngest individual artist ever to be nominated for Album of the Year. (She's in the running with Fearless, which is the year's best-selling album.) Swift will be 20 years and one month when the Grammys are presented on Jan. 31. The former record holder as the youngest individual nominee in that category was Janet Jackson, was 20 years and nine months on Grammy night in 1987, when she was nominated for her breakthrough album, Control.
Swift is also nominated for Record and Song of the Year for her crossover smash "You Belong With Me." Swift is the first female country solo artist to be nominated for each of the "Big Three" awards since Shania Twain scored 11 years ago with Come On Over and her crossover smash "You're Still The One."
Beyonce is nominated for Song of the Year for co-writing "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)." But that iconic smash wasn't submitted for Record of the Year. She was instead nominated in that category for her mid-tempo, pop-leaning ballad "Halo." This is the fourth time that Beyonce has been nominated for Record of the Year. She made the finals with "Say My Name" (as part of Destiny's Child), "Crazy In Love" (with Jay-Z) and "Irreplaceable." But this is the first time she's been nominated for Album of the Year. She made the finals with her third solo studio release, I Am...Sasha Fierce.
Black Eyed Peas received six nominations, which puts them in a tie for third place for most nominations with Maxwell and Kanye West. DJ David Guetta, Jay-Z and Lady Gaga each received five nominations.
The Peas are nominated for Record of the Year for the third time with "I Gotta Feeling." They were previously nominated for "Where Is The Love?" (with Justin Timberlake) and "Let's Get It Started." They also received their first Album of the Year nomination for The E.N.D.
Kings of Leon were nominated for Record and Song of the Year for their stirring rock anthem "Use Somebody." They would doubtless have also been nominated for Album of the Year, but their Only By The Night album was released before the start of the eligibility period (Oct. 1, 2008 through Aug. 31, 2009).
Dave Matthews Band, which has been one of the top-selling album acts in the country for 15 years, received their first Album of the Year nomination for Big Whiskey And The Groogrux King.
West wasn't the only artist to be "snubbed" in the voting. Several other artists were passed over not only for Album of the Year, but also for the top album award in their specific genres. Whitney Houston failed to get a nomination for Best R&B Album for her comeback album, I Look To You. Bruce Springsteen came up short in the Best Rock Album category for Working On A Dream. Diana Krall was a no-show in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category for Quiet Nights.
Several other high-profile albums were passed over for Album of the Year, but did at least score a nomination for the top album award in their specific genres. These include Pink's Funhouse (which is nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album), Maxwell's BLACKsummers'night (Best R&B Album), U2's No Line On The Horizon and Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown (both Best Rock Album), Eminem's Relapse (Best Rap Album), and Bob Dylan's Together Through Life (Best Americana Album). (Maxwell also received a nomination for Song of the Year for co-writing "Pretty Wings.")
Lady Gaga is nominated for Album of the Year for The Fame and Record and Song of the Year for "Poker Face." She would certainly have been nominated for (and probably would have won) Best New Artist, but she was ruled ineligible because she was nominated for a Grammy previously. (She won for Best Dance Recording for "Just Dance" at last year's ceremony, before her album was eligible).
Instead, the finalists for Best New Artist are Zac Brown Band, Keri Hilson, MGMT, Silversun Pickups and The Ting Tings. Zac Brown Band's The Foundation is a finalist for Best Country Album.
Last year's American Idol winner, David Cook, was surprisingly passed over for a nomination as Best New Artist. After eight years on the air, American Idol has produced a grand total of one Grammy finalist for Best New Artist. That's Carrie Underwood, who won the award for 2006.
Also passed over for Best New Artist: Owl City, which had a recent #1 single with "Fireflies," and the Lonely Island, the comedy troupe that features Andy Samberg of Saturday Night Live.
Here are the nominations in the top four categories, and selected other races:
Record of the Year: Beyonce's "Halo," Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling," Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody," Lady Gaga's "Poker Face," Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me."
Album of the Year: Beyonce's I Am...Sasha Fierce, Black Eyed Peas' The E.N.D., Lady Gaga's The Fame, Dave Matthews Band's Big Whiskey And The Groogrux King, Taylor Swift's Fearless.
Song of the Year: "Poker Face" (Lady Gaga and RedOne), "Pretty Wings" (Maxwell Musze and Hod David), "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" (Beyonce Knowles, Thaddis Harrell, Terius Nash and Christopher Stewart), "Use Somebody" (Kings Of Leon), "You Belong With Me" (Taylor Swift and Liz Rose).
Best New Artist: Zac Brown Band, Keri Hilson, MGMT, Silversun Pickups, The Ting Tings.
Best Pop Vocal Album: Black Eyed Peas' The E.N.D., Colbie Caillat's Breakthrough, Kelly Clarkson's All I Ever Wanted, The Fray's The Fray, Pink's Funhouse.
Best Electronic/Dance Album: The Crystal Method's Divided By Night, David Guetta's One Love, Lady Gaga's The Fame, LMFAO's Party Rock, Pet Shop Boys' Yes.
Best Rock Album: AC/DC's Black Ice, Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood's Live From Madison Square Garden, Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown, Dave Matthews Band's Big Whiskey And The Groogrux King, U2's No Line On The Horizon.
Best Alternative Music Album: David Byrne & Brian Eno's Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, Death Cab For Cutie's The Open Door, Depeche Mode's Sounds Of The Universe, Phoenix's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Yeah Yeah Yeah's It's Blitz!
Best R&B Album: Anthony Hamilton's The Point Of It All, India.Arie's Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics, Ledisi's Turn Me Loose, Maxwell's BLACKsummers' Night, Charlie Wilson's Uncle Charlie.
Best Contemporary R&B Album: Beyonce's I Am...Sasha Fierce, Jamie Foxx's Intuition, Pleasure P's The Introduction Of Marcus Cooper, Trey Songz's Ready, T-Pain's Thr33 Ringz.
Best Rap Album: Common's Universal Mind Control, Eminem's Relapse, Flo Rida's R.O.O.T.S., Mos Def's The Ecstatic, Q-Tip's The Renaissance.
Best Country Album: Zac Brown Band's The Foundation, George Strait's Twang, Taylor Swift's Fearless, Keith Urban's Defying Gravity, Lee Ann Womack's Call Me Crazy.