West, Carey lead Grammy nominations
Daring rapper Kanye West, veteran diva Mariah Carey and soulful newcomer John Legend led the way Thursday with eight nominations each for the 48th annual Grammy Awards, an acknowledgment of the powerful confluence of hip-hop and R&B as the sound of pop music in 2005.
Not only is West’s “Late Registration” nominated for album of the year and his hit “Gold Digger” nominated as record of the year, he saw his protege, Legend, earn a spot in the best new artist race for his debut album “Get Lifted.”
Carey, whose career seemed all but over a few years ago, is also nominated for best album for “The Emancipation of Mimi,” a weave of urban ballads, hip-hop beats and dance-floor hits. Carey is the only nominee named in the three marquee categories of best album, song and record of the year.
The melding of urban beats and the neo-soul movement have taken pop away from rock and the youth pop that held such sway just a few years ago, and the ballot-domination last year by Usher, Alicia Keys and West carries through with much of this year’s most commercially successful sounds.
The album of the year contest also features Gwen Stefani’s “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.” and music from two members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Paul McCartney’s “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard” and U2’s “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.”
The placement of a Beatle, Bono and West in the top category greatly enhances the chances of a memorable acceptance speech. West, especially, has shown a flair for the dramatic. The rapper earlier this year used a national Hurricane Katrina telethon appearance for an emotional rant against the Bush administration; last year he also publicly ranted after the American Music Awards passed him over for best new artist honors.
On Thursday, West acknowledged his Grammy bounty with an uncharacteristically brief statement: “I’d like to thank the academy for paying attention to my music, not my mouth.”
There was a more enthused response from Legend, whose music has been hailed as elegant and sophisticated R&B. He said the good reviews didn’t prepare him to hear his name called in so many categories, including song of the year.
“I didn’t think there’d be so many,” he said. “This was far beyond my expectations. I really care about songwriting a lot and to be recognized for that, it’s really big.”
Carey and Stefani, two dominant female figures in pop this year, will square off in three categories: album, record and the secondary category of female pop vocal performance.
In the prized record of the year category, Stefani’s cheeky cheerleader anthem “Hollaback Girl” will vie with Carey’s “We Belong Together,” the year’s most-played song on American radio. The Gorillaz, the cross-genre music experiment of Brit rocker Damon Albarn, is also nominated for its “Feel Good Inc.,” a track featuring longtime hip-hop heroes De La Soul.
The final two nominees for record of the year bring back memories of last year’s Grammys: Ray Charles posthumously won the category last year and this time he is “back” via West’s “Gold Digger” – it features a sample of “I Got a Woman” and a channeling of Charles by actor Jamie Foxx – while Green Day, nominated last year for “American Idiot,” is back with the forlorn “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”
Legend will contend for the title of best new artist against Brit-pop trio Keane, the emo-band Fall Out Boy and two very different acts who hail from Atlanta: the country trio SugarLand and teen R&B chanteuse Ciara.