New faces of R&B; and one of the genre's legends are among the leading nominees for top honors at the 47th annual Grammy Awards.
Innovative rapper Kanye West leads the field with 10 nods, followed by R&B; sex symbol Usher and the soulful Alicia Keys with eight each. The legendary Ray Charles has seven nominations for his posthumously released all-star duet album Genius Loves Company.
Usher was expected to lead the nominations announced yesterday, so it was surprising to some industry insiders that West managed to slip by him. Usher's Confessions has sold more than 7 million copies, roughly three times as many as West's The College Dropout.
"That may be a battle cry for rappers to come up with something different than the violence, crime, money and misogyny that has been carrying that genre for years," said Chuck Taylor, managing editor for Billboard Radio Monitor. "He made a more thoughtful album, and critics and the public are reacting to that."
College Dropout will vie for best album against Genius Loves Company, Green Day's American Idiot, Keys' The Diary of Alicia Keys and Confessions.
Usher, Charles and Green Day also surfaced on the record of the year list: Usher for his collaboration with Ludacris and Lil Jon on "Yeah!"; Charles for his duet with Norah Jones on "Here We Go Again"; and Green Day for American Idiot's title track.
Rounding out that category was "Let's Get It Started" by the Black Eyed Peas and "Heaven" by Texas-based alt-country group Los Lonely Boys.
The nominees for best song, an award for songwriters, were "Daughters" (John Mayer); "If I Ain't Got You" (Alicia Keys); "Jesus Walks" (C. Smith and Kanye West); "Live Like You Were Dying" (Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman); and Hoobastank's "The Reason" (Daniel Estrin and Douglas Robb).
In other categories, Gretchen Wilson's Here for the Party is up for best country album against Tim McGraw's Live Like You Were Dying, Tift Merritt's Tambourine, Keith Urban's Be Here and Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose. The latter, produced by Jack White of the White Stripes, got five nominations for the longtime country star.
Winners will be announced Feb. 13.
Charles, a 12-time Grammy winner who died in June at age 73, looks to be a strong sentimental favorite. Billboard's Taylor says the field is balanced enough that a Norah Jones-style sweep for one of the top nominees might be unlikely. He wouldn't bet against Usher, though.
"I think Usher's going to have a great year at the Grammys, and I think he should," Taylor says. "He had the best-selling album of 2004 for a reason. He's had a phenomenal year - and he's talented."
The Orlando Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.
GRAMMY AWARD NOMINATIONS
Selected nominees announced yesterday for the 47th annual Grammy Awards, to be presented Feb. 13 in Los Angeles. For a complete list of winners, visit www.baltimoresun. com/grammys:
Record of the Year: "Let's Get It Started," The Black Eyed Peas; "Here We Go Again," Ray Charles and Norah Jones; "American Idiot," Green Day; "Heaven," Los Lonely Boys; "Yeah!" Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris.
Album of the Year: Genius Loves Company, Ray Charles and Various Artists; American Idiot, Green Day; The Diary of Alicia Keys, Alicia Keys; Confessions, Usher; The College Dropout, Kanye West.
Song of the Year: "Daughters," John Mayer (performed by John Mayer); "If I Ain't Got You," Alicia Keys (Alicia Keys); "Jesus Walks," C. Smith and Kanye West (Kanye West); "Live Like You Were Dying," Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman (Tim McGraw); "The Reason," Daniel Estrin and Douglas Robb (Hoobastank).
R&B; Song: "Burn," Bryan Michael Cox, Jermaine Dupri and Usher Raymond (Usher); "Call My Name," Prince (Prince); "My Boo," Jermaine Dupri, Alicia Keys, Usher Raymond, Manuel Seal and Adonis Shropshire (Usher and Alicia Keys); "Yeah!" Chris Bridges, Sean Garrett, LaMarquis Jefferson, Robert McDowell, James Phillips, Jonathan Smith and Patrick J. Que Smith (Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris); "You Don't Know My Name," Alicia Keys, Harold Lilly and Kanye West (Alicia Keys).
R&B; Album: My Everything, Anita Baker; I Can't Stop, Al Green; The Diary of Alicia Keys, Alicia Keys; Musicology, Prince; Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2, Jill Scott.
Contemporary R&B; Album: Afrodisiac, Brandy; Damita Jo, Janet Jackson; It's About Time, Christina Milian; Confessions, Usher; Hurt No More, Mario Winans.
Rap Song: "Drop It Like It's Hot," Calvin Broadus, Chad Hugo, S. Thomas and Pharrell Williams (Snoop Dogg); "Hey Mama," Will Adams and Anthony Henry (The Black Eyed Peas); "Jesus Walks," C. Smith and Kanye West (Kanye West); "Let's Get It Started," Will Adams, Mike Fratantuno, Jaime Gomez, George Pajon Jr., Allan Pineda and Terence Yoshiaki (The Black Eyed Peas); "99 Problems," Shawn Carter and Rick Rubin (Jay-Z).
Rap Album: To the 5 Boroughs, Beastie Boys; The Black Album, Jay-Z; The DEFinition, LL Cool J; Suit, Nelly; The College Dropout, Kanye West.
Rock Album: The Delivery Man, Elvis Costello and The Imposters; American Idiot, Green Day; The Reason, Hoobastank; Hot Fuss, The Killers; Contraband, Velvet Revolver.
Country Song: "It's Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night That Chew Your [Behind] Out All Day Long," Rodney Crowell and Vince Gill (The Notorious Cherry Bombs); "Live Like You Were Dying," Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman (Tim McGraw); "Miss Being Mrs.," Loretta Lynn (Loretta Lynn); "Portland Oregon," Loretta Lynn (Loretta Lynn and Jack White); "Redneck Woman," John Rich and Gretchen Wilson (Gretchen Wilson).
Country Album: Van Lear Rose, Loretta Lynn; Live Like You Were Dying, Tim McGraw; Tambourine, Tift Merritt; Be Here, Keith Urban; Here for the Party, Gretchen Wilson.
Contemporary Jazz Album: Journey, Fourplay; Unspeakable, Bill Frisell; In Praise of Dreams, Jan Garbarek; The Hang, Don Grusin; Strength, Roy Hargrove.
Gospel Choir or Chorus Album: Can't Nobody Do Me Like Jesus, Shabach; Live in New York, New York Fellowship Mass Choir II; Live ... This is Your House, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir; Spirit and Truth, Newbirth Total Praise Choir; Unplugged ... The Way Church Used to Be, New Generation Chorale.
Latin Pop Album: Amar Sin Mentiras, Marc Anthony; Sin Verguenza, Bacilos; Pau-latina, Paulina Rubio; Diego Torres: MTV Unplugged, Diego Torres; El Rock De Mi Pueblo, Carlos Vives.
Traditional Blues Album: Me and Mr. Johnson, Eric Clapton; Baby, Don't You Tear My Clothes, James Cotton; Blues With a Vengeance, John Lee Hooker Jr.; Blues to the Bone, Etta James; Ladies Man, Pinetop Perkins.
Reggae Album: Black Magic, Jimmy Cliff; The Dub Revolutionaries, Sly and Robbie; African Holocaust, Steel Pulse; True Love, Toots and The Maytals; Def Jamaica, Various Artists.