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The Baltimore Sun

West, Winehouse lead the pack

Kanye West and Amy Winehouse finally got some good news after weeks of public tribulations -- they lead all artists in nominations for the 50th Annual Grammy Awards and will square off in the album of the year category.

West, whose mother died Nov. 10 following elective plastic surgery, led everyone with eight nominations for "Graduation," his third album and one of the best-selling titles of the year.

Winehouse, the extravagantly tattooed retro-soul singer, has become a U.K. tabloid fixture after a series of personal calamities, including a drug seizure, an arrest, the cancellation of her tour and the jailing of her husband. She has the most nominations in marquee categories, with her "Back to Black" getting a nod in the best-album category and her infectious hit "Rehab" showing up in the record and song of the year categories. Winehouse is also nominated for best new artist.

The album of the year category is dramatic in its eclecticism: West and Winehouse will be up against the modern-rock bestsellers the Foo Fighters ("Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace"); jazz veteran Herbie Hancock ("River: The Joni Letters") and country stalwart Vince Gill ("These Days," a sprawling four-CD collection of new material).

The premier category of record of the year is pop-heavy with "Irreplaceable" by Beyoncé, the mega-hit "Umbrella" by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z and "What Goes Around...Comes Around" by Justin Timberlake. The Foo Fighters song "The Pretender" and Winehouse's "Rehab" round out the category.

The closely watched best new artist category is exclusively female voices this time around: There's Winehouse, Canadian singer-songwriter Feist, country newcomer Taylor Swift, Tennessee pop-rock group Paramore, New Orleans R&B singer Ledisi.

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