For the first time in many years, the Grammys have thrown us a real curveball.
Nominees for the 50th-annual edition of the awards honoring the best in music were announced this afternoon, and the list of contenders for Album of the Year is one of the most diverse in recent memory, representing five different genres.
Up for the top award this year are rapper Kanye West’s "Graduation"; "Back to Black" by British retro-soul songbird Amy Winehouse; jazz pianist Herbie Hancock’s tribute to Joni Mitchell, "River: The Joni Letters"; the four-disc master work of country star Vince Gill, "These Days"; and the seventh studio release from veteran alt-rockers Foo Fighters, "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace."
Foo Fighters’s "The Pretender" and Winehouse’s "Rehab" will also vie for the Record of the Year prize with Rihanna’s "Umbrella," Beyonce’s "Irreplaceable," and Justin Timberlake’s "What Goes Around…Comes Around."
For multiple-award nominees West and Winehouse, it has been a year of both tragedy and triumph. West’s leading eight nods for his critically acclaimed and commercially dominant third album come less than a month after the sudden death of his mother. Winehouse, who first garnered media attention for the sublime soul of her US debut, has since become a tabloid magnet following a seemingly endless string of substance-abuse issues and arrests.
Surprise omissions in the top categories included Grammy favorites like Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen (who released "Magic" in the vinyl format just a few days before the eligibility deadline) for Album of the Year and Daughtry in the Best New Artist category. (All three were nominated in other categories, however).
(See tomorrow's Weekend section for more Grammy analysis.)
Here are the nominees in the top eight categories (for a complete list, click here):
Record of the Year: "Irreplaceable," Beyonce; "The Pretender," Foo Fighters; "Umbrella," Rihanna featuring Jay-Z; "What Goes Around ... Comes Around," Justin Timberlake; "Rehab," Amy Winehouse.
Album of the Year: "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace," Foo Fighters; "These Days," Vince Gill; "River: The Joni Letters," Herbie Hancock; "Graduation," Kanye West; "Back to Black," Amy Winehouse.
Song of the Year: "Before He Cheats," Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins (Carrie Underwood); "Hey There Delilah," Tom Higgenson (Plain White T's); "Like a Star," Corinne Bailey Rae (Corinne Bailey Rae); "Rehab," Amy Winehouse (Amy Winehouse); "Umbrella," Shawn Carter, Kuk Harrell, Terius "Dream" Nash & Christopher Stewart (Rihanna featuring Jay-Z).
New Artist: Feist, Ledisi, Paramore, Taylor Swift, Amy Winehouse.
Pop Vocal Album: "Lost Highway," Bon Jovi; "The Reminder," Feist; "It Won't Be Soon Before Long," Maroon 5; "Memory Almost Full," Paul McCartney; "Back to Black," Amy Winehouse.
Rock Album: "Daughtry," Daughtry; "Revival," John Fogerty; "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace," Foo Fighters; "Magic," Bruce Springsteen; "Sky Blue Sky," Wilco.
Rap Album: "Finding Forever," Common; "Kingdom Come," Jay-Z, "Hip Hop Is Dead," Nas; "T.I. vs T.I.P.," T.I.; "Graduation," Kanye West.
Country Album: "Long Trip Alone," Dierks Bentley; "These Days," Vince Gill; "Let It Go," Tim McGraw; "5th Gear," Brad Paisley; "It Just Comes Natural," George Strait.
The Grammy Awards will be handed out Feb. 10 in Los Angeles.
About Sound Effects
ContributorsSarah Rodman is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.
James Reed is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.
Jonathan Perry is the Globe's Scene & Heard columnist, covering local music.
Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.
Julian Benbow is a staff writer at the Boston Globe, covering sports and music.
Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.