Kanye West, Amy Winehouse lead the pack

Kanye West received eight nominations Thursday for the 50th annual Grammy Awards, leading a varied and surprise-filled pack.

Amy Winehouse, the troubled Brit soul singer whose life has become tabloid fodder, received six mentions, four of which are in the top general categories. Winehouse is the only performer represented in the album, record, song and new artist races. She is also up for female pop vocal performance and pop vocal album.

Nominations in the top four categories are spread across a fairly broad spectrum and dominated by no specific genre. The album category brings Winehouse together with a jazz master (Herbie Hancock’s “River: The Joni Letters”), a mid-level country star (Vince Gill’s “These Days”) and the guiding lights of hip-hop (West’s “Graduation”) and modern rock (Foo Fighters’ “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace”).

Winehouse, along with Rihanna, Lily Allen, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift are among the young artists who made 2007 seem like a particularly strong year for femmes. Reflecting that phenomenon, four of the new artist nominees are female and the fifth, the band Paramore, is led by a woman.

Male artists dominated, however, when it came to multiple noms. Drawing five each were Foo Fighters, Jay-Z, Ne-Yo, Timbaland, Justin Timberlake and T-Pain. Akon, Dierks Bentley, Chris Daughtry, Feist, Tim McGraw, John Newton, Rihanna and Bruce Springsteen received four each.

The song category is packed with the year’s inescapable hits: Underwood’s “Before He Cheats,” the Plain White T’s’ “Hey There Delilah,” Winehouse’s “Rehab” and Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” which was surprisingly shut out of the R&B categories.

And then there’s a shocker: Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Like a Star.” Bailey Rae’s tune, the lead track from her March 2006 debut, was released on Oct. 6, 2006, and never cracked the top 40; last year, she was up for three of the top awards and went home empty-handed.

Eligibility period for the 50th annual Grammy Awards was Oct. 1, 2006 through Sept. 30.

Releasing albums in September, the last month of the eligibility period, paid off for West, Foo Fighters, Hancock, Queen Latifah and others, especially artists who released singles ahead of albums that fell outside the eligibility period (Alicia Keys, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Angie Stone, the Eagles).

West is nominated twice in the rap song category, for “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and “Good Life,” and twice in the rap perf by a duo or group, “Southside” with Common and “Better Than I’ve Ever Been” with KRS-One. He is also up for album, rap solo perf, rap/sung collaboration and rap album. It’s the third time in his short career that he has been the leading recipient of noms: He grabbed 10 for the 47th Grammys and eight for the 48th, but he has yet to win a trophy in a general category.

Besides album, the Foo Fighters are up for record (“The Pretender”), hard rock perf, rock song and rock album.

While Gill received only one other nom — country album — it’s Hancock, who has 10 Grammys already, whose record may be the biggest surprise. “River” is an acoustic jazz project and not one of his more pop-oriented efforts. (He is also up for contempo jazz album and jazz instrumental solo). Jazz albums rarely show up in the top four categories, and the last time a true jazz artist won album of the year was Stan Getz for his 1964 disc with Joao Gilberto, “Getz/Gilberto.”

Key among the surprises was the major-category shutout of Springsteen’s “Magic,” which Columbia Records issued on vinyl on Sept. 25, making it eligible for all categories. He is nominated for solo rock vocal and rock song for “Radio Nowhere” as well as rock album, plus rock instrumental for his contribution to an Ennio Morricone tribute disc. As with Bob Dylan’s “Modern Times” last year, it was immediately the most discussed omission by the industry and media on hand at the announcement of the noms. Springsteen is looking to continue a five-year string of winning a trophy each year.

Among September releases the Grammy nominating committees passed on were works by will.i.am, James Blunt, KT Tunstall and Rascal Flatts.

The Beatles could secure their eighth win as a group; their “Love” is in the compilation soundtrack category battling with an album of all Beatles covers “(Across the Universe”), the film adaptations of two tuners (“Hairspray,” “Dreamgirls”) and the pic “Once,” whose songwriters are also up for song written for a motion picture or television. Philip Glass’ “I Knew Her,” from “Notes on a Scandal,” is the lone entry in instrumental composition to come from a film.

Composer Gustavo Santaolalla has the opportunity to place a Grammy next to his Oscar for the score to “Babel.” The film-TV score Grammy has six nominees — a rare occurrence. Pop-rock stars Eddie Vedder, Prince and Chris Cornell are up for the film-TV song trophy.

Tony Awards champ “Spring Awakening” is vying for musical show album against three revivals and the “Grey Gardens” cast album.

Although Kelly Clarkson’s “My December” was snubbed, the acceptance of “American Idols” by the music industry continues. Music related to the show’s alums racked up 12 noms, including one for Mandisa in the pop-contemporary gospel category.

A handful of albums that are appearing on critics’ lists received noms: LCD Soundsystem is up for electronic/dance album; Justice has three noms; Arcade Fire, the Shins and Arcade Fire are up for alternative music album; and in addition to rap perf by a duo or group for his work with West, Common is vying for rap solo and rap album.

Juan Luis Guerra, who swept the top three categories at the Latin Grammys this year with “La Llave de Mi Corazon,” is up for tropical Latin album.

Two classical discs could bring in three winners each. “Tower: Made in America,” with Leonard Slatkin conducting the Nashville Symphony, is up for classical album, orchestral perf and classical contemporary composition; “Lorraine Hunt Lieberson sings Peter Lieberson: Neruda Songs” is a contender for classical album, classical vocal perf and classical contemporary composition.

Two artists who took lengthy breaks from recording are up for traditional folk album: David Bromberg’s first album in 17 years is vying against Levon Helm’s first studio recording in 25 years, “Dirt Farmer,” which was released a full month (Oct. 30) after the end of the eligibility period. Sentimental favorite in the category, though, is 80-year-old Charlie Louvin.

Among the intriguing nominations: actress Tia Carrere is up for Hawaiian music album; Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci are up for spoken world album for children; Alan Alda is up against two former presidents and a presidential candidate in spoken word; two Christmas albums are in the traditional pop vocal category; two John Lennon covers are up for rock perf by a duo or group; three Brazilian acts are up for contempo world music album; and thesp-magician Ricky Jay is up for album notes.

Feist’s “1234” video, which was widely seen when it was used in an Apple iPod ad, received a shortform musicvideo nom for the director Patrick Daughters and producer Geoff McLean.

And Jimmy Sturr can win his 16th polka trophy. His “Come Share the Wine” is up against discs from Brave Combo, John Gora and Bubba Hernandez & Alex Meixner plus the “Dueling Polkas” album by Walter Ostamnek and His Band & Brian Sklar and the Western Senators.

Nominations for the 110 Grammy categories were announced at the Music Box Theater in Hollywood. Awards will be handed out Feb. 10 in ceremonies at Staples Center.

Nominations for the 100 Grammy categories were announced at the Music Box Theater in Hollywood. Awards will be handed out Feb. 10 in ceremonies at Staples Center.

Click here for the list of nominees

Click here for the nominations announcement gallery.

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