Both are up for album of the year; Eminem leads nominations
This year, the Grammys are loving the blockbuster albums -- well, what passes for blockbusters in this era of declining sales.
Eminem's "Recovery" and Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now," the two biggest sellers of 2010 at more than 3 million each, join Lady Gaga's "The Fame Monster," one of the biggest titles of the past two years even though it contained a mere eight new songs, as Grammy finalists for album of the year.
Rounding out the category are Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs," a critically adored indie-rock concept album, and Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream," a pop concoction that has been a surprisingly slow seller despite featuring two smash singles.
Eminem, the veteran Detroit rapper who enjoyed a big comeback this year, leads the pack with 10 nominations. The finalists for the 53rd annual Grammys were announced Wednesday night on a live TV show from Los Angeles.
Soul man Bruno Mars, who ranks second with seven nominations, joined pop heartthrob Justin Bieber, hit rapper B.o.B., country thrush Miranda Lambert and pop tart Perry as performers on the hourlong show. All of them received Grammy nods.
While blockbusters dominate the top album category, hip-hop and R&B rule the record-of-the-year race. "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys has become not only a New York anthem but also a national one. It's vying against rap/soul combos "Love the Way You Lie" by Eminem featuring Rihanna and "Nothin' on You" by B.o.B. featuring Bruno Mars and Cee Lo Green's soulful slice of jealousy called "F*** You," or as Selena Gomez said Wednesday on TV, "the song otherwise known as Forget You." And the 800-pound gorilla in the category is Lady Antebellum's catchy drunk-dial ballad "Need You Now," which was a huge hit in both country and pop.
Three of the record nominees -- "Love the Way You Lie," "Need You Now" and "F*** You" -- are also contenders for song of the year. Their competition includes Ray LaMontagne's "Beg Steal or Borrow" and Miranda Lambert's "The House That Built Me."
Lambert, who has dominated country awards shows in 2010 with her album "Revolution," did not make the album of the year finals, which was a big surprise. It was also surprising that the blue-ribbon panel, which chooses finalists for the top four categories, did not, for a change, pick a long-established artist for album of the year.
Some people might be surprised that Taylor Swift, the queen of the 2010 Grammys, received no nominations for 2011. The eligibility period was Sept. 1, 2009, to Sept. 30, 2010. Her fast-selling third album, "Speak Now," was released in late October.
There were some surprises in the contest for best new artist. Canadians Bieber, the teen sensation, and Drake, a hit singer/rapper, seemed obvious, but Florence & the Machine and Mumford & Sons, two British groups embraced by the indie-rock crowd, were long shots. A big talent but hardly a big name, jazz bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding, rounds out the field.
Winners of the Grammys, chosen by 12,000 voting members of the Recording Academy, will be announced Feb. 13 in a televised ceremony from Los Angeles.
Jon Bream • 612-673-1719