47th Annual Grammy Award Nominations
Want a Grammy? Your best bet is being an R&B or hip-hop artist - or dearly departed.
The Recording Academy revealed the nominees for the 47th annual Grammy Awards Tuesday, and there were few surprises. Critically acclaimed rapper-producer Kanye West came out on top with 10 nominations, followed closely by Atlanta's R&B heartthrob Usher and Grammy favorite Alicia Keys with eight each.
"I'm on cloud eight right now," said Alpharetta, Ga. resident Usher, who was in Los Angeles wrapping up a short film set to air New Year's Eve. "You know, I didn't really expect this. In life."
Just behind Usher and Keys was Ray Charles, whose final album, "Genius Loves Company," brought the legendary Albany, Ga.-born musician seven chances at a posthumous statuette to add to the 12 he won during his lifetime.
For a long time the Grammys felt out of touch with both the popular and critical mainstream, but those days appear to be gone. Usher's '`Confessions'' is the biggest-selling album of 2004 and will compete against Charles, Keys' ``The Diary of Alicia Keys,'' West's ``College Dropout'' and Green Day's conceptual pop-punk opus ``American Idiot.'' Green Day is the category's only surprise inclusion, taking a spot many thought would go to beloved comebacks by Loretta Lynn, Brian Wilson or Prince.
Usher gave us a massive single, too, with ``Yeah!'' which will compete in the record of the year category. If it takes the trophy, we could see an Atlanta all-star team onstage to accept.
`` `Yeah!' worked because it was an event record," said College Park, Ga. rapper Ludacris, who collaborated on "Yeah!" with fellow Atlantan Lil Jon, who also produced. "It was the first Crunk 'N B record, which was a new sound. And there were three superstars on it. All from the `A.' That had to be a hit!"
The chart-topping tune has a good shot, but OutKast's ``Hey Ya!'' seemed like a shoo-in last year, too, when it lost to Coldplay's ``Clocks.'' ``Yeah!'' will have to overcome the bouncy ``Let's Get It Started'' from the Black Eyed Peas, Charles' duet with Norah Jones ``Here We Go Again,'' rootsy surprise Top 10 hit ``Heaven'' from Texas rockers Los Lonely Boys, and the title track from Green Day's ``American Idiot.'' West's absence in this category seems a little odd, but he makes up for it with a nod for song of the year for "Jesus Walks."
Song of the year goes to composers, and unusually, there's no overlap between this list and the artist-and-producer-oriented record of the year nominees. Last year, for instance, Eminem's ``Lose Yourself'' competed for both awards.
Atlanta is well-represented in the classical music categories, where the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and/or the Atlanta Symphony Chorus are up for three awards.
Those who bestow Grammys have always had a soft spot for posthumous recognition. Warren Zevon, an artist beloved by musicians and ignored by the public, got multiple nominations last year. This year's big beneficiary is Charles, but dig a little deeper in the nominee pile and you'll find others. Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer, both deceased, are nominated for best pop collaboration with vocals for their pairing on Bob Marley's ``Redemption Song.''
Death also shows up in the only country nominee in the top three categories, the Tim McGraw-recorded ``Live Like You Were Dying,'' which is nominated for song of the year.
Artists seem to be competing against themselves in large numbers this year, too. The best R&B song category finds Usher, his producer Jermaine Dupri and his duet partner Keys with two nominations each. As executive producer of Usher's "Confessions," Dupri's work is also up against girlfriend Janet Jackson's "Damita Jo."
"R&B song, that's a hard category, period," Dupri said. "It'll probably be `Yeah!'
"Usher's going to win with one of my songs (in another category)," adds the Atlanta co-writer of Usher's "Burn" and his duet with R&B vocalist Keys, "My Boo." "It just might not be me going up and getting the award. Which is fine with me. I'm really happy to be nominated. And that it's looking like one of my artists or friends is going to win something."
Plenty of other artists have two out of five shots in a single category, including the Black Eyed Peas, West and Charles. Lynn, who earned five nominations for her critically lauded and best country album-nominated ``Van Lear Rose,'' has two entries in the running for best country song.
The ceremony, which will be held at Los Angeles' Staples Center, airs at 8 p.m. Feb. 13 on CBS.
Shane Harrison writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. E-mail: email@example.com. Staff writer Sonia Murray contributed to this report.