Beyonce leads Grammys, Taylor Swift close behind
By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - R&B singer Beyonce led the field of Grammy contenders with 10 nominations on Wednesday, closely followed by teen country sensation Taylor Swift with eight, and both will compete for coveted album of the year.
Hip-hop band Black Eyed Peas, R&B singer Maxwell -- making a return to the music business after an eight-year absence -- and rapper Kanye West each earned six nods.
In a list that reflected youth and a drop-off of veteran super groups like U2, glam singer Lady Gaga and rapper Jay-Z each earned five Grammy nods apiece.
Swift, 19, whose "Fearless" album is the biggest seller in the United States in 2009, will compete with Beyonce for album of the year along with the Black Eyed Peas, Dave Matthews Band and Lady Gaga, who has gone from obscurity to worldwide fame this year with her debut album "The Fame".
Both Swift, a big winner at the Country Music Association and American Music Awards last month, and Beyonce were also nominated for two other key Grammys -- record of the year and song of the year.
"Taylor is a phenomenon in entertainment," Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy told reporters. "She has really struck a chord with people. I am not surprised" at the number of nominations.
Swift has never won a Grammy, while Beyonce is a 10-time winner in her solo career and her earlier turn in the trio Destiny's Child. Her latest solo album "I Am...Sasha Fierce" produced the hit singles "Halo" and "Single Ladies".
The six nominations for multi-ethnic Los Angeles band Black Eyed Peas followed their chart-topping album "THE E.N.D", whose singles "Boom Boom Pow" and then "I Gotta Feeling" enjoyed a record-breaking 26-week run in the U.S. charts.
DYLAN STILL DOES IT
Veteran Bob Dylan, 68, was nominated for best Americana album for "Together Through Life" and best solo rock performance for his "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'" album which debuted at No.1 in the U.S. album charts in May.
U2, whose latest album "No Line on the Horizon" was given a huge promotional push earlier this year, won Grammy nominations for best rock album and best rock song but were shut out of the most prized categories.
The best new artist category was an eclectic mix of British rock duo The Ting Tings, country artists the Zac Brown Band, American alternative rockers Silversun Pickups, rock duo MGMT (formerly known as The Management) and singer Keri Hilson.
Winners in all categories of the 52nd annual event will be announced at a televised awards ceremony on January 31.
The Grammys are determined by about 16,000 voting members of the Recording Academy, whose choices are guided by artistic merit rather than commercial appeal.
For the second year, key nominations were read out during a one-hour concert broadcast on CBS. Teen idol Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers made his solo debut and Maxwell paid tribute to Michael Jackson with a performance of the late singer's 1980s hit "The Lady in My Life".
In the past, contenders were named at an early morning news conference. The new strategy is part of a bid to boost awareness of the Grammys as the record business endures a decade-long tailspin. Album sales so far this year are down about 13 percent from the same period of 2008.
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Mohammad Zargham)