Comeback queen Mariah Carey, rapper Kanye West and newcomer John Legend led the field with eight nominations each for the Grammy Awards when the contenders were unveiled in New York on Thursday.
Carey’s “The Emancipation of Mimi” was nominated for best album of the year, while the ballad “We Belong Together” made the grade for best record of the year — a triumph for a woman whose career was all but written off just a few years ago.
West was also nominated in those two categories, for the song “Gold Digger” and the hit album “Late Registration,” while his protege Legend was nominated for best male R&B vocal performance and best new artist.
It was the second year in a row that West topped the list of nominations — last year he picked up 10 nods but was then snubbed in most categories, winning only three awards.
Legend, known for his smooth soul music in the vein of Stevie Wonder and Barry White, paid tribute to his mentor West’s “vision and creative genius.”
“We love making music and we dream about these kind of moments where we get recognized,” he told CNN after nominations were announced for the 48th annual Grammy Awards that will be presented on February 8 in Los Angeles.
Others nominated for the coveted record of the year were “Feel Good Inc” by Gorillaz featuring De La Soul, Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl.”
The eight nominations were a vindication for Carey whose album has been one of the biggest sellers of the year, with worldwide sales of more than 7 million copies, according to her Island Def Jam label. The single “We Belong Together” ruled the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 14 weeks.
Four years ago, Carey’s career hit the skids as she released a flop movie and album. Her previous label, Virgin Records, which had just signed her to a contract reportedly worth $80 million, paid her $28 million to leave.
Village Voice columnist Michael Musto said there were few surprises and no glaring omissions in the nominations.
“Kanye West was a no brainer and so was Mariah because they always love a good come back,” he said.
On the day fans of former Beatle John Lennon gathered to mark the 25th anniversary of his murder, his former song-writing partner Paul McCartney was nominated for best album of the year for his latest record, “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.”
It was a good day for three more veteran acts — Stevie Wonder with six nominations, Bruce Springsteen who picked up five, and Irish rockers U2, also nominated five times including for album of the year with “How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb,” after winning three awards last year.
Springsteen’s “Devils & Dust” was up for song of the year — an award for the songwriter, not necessarily the artist, as opposed to record of the year which goes to the artist.
Others up for song of the year are Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road,” Legend’s “Ordinary People,” Carey’s “We Belong Together” and U2’s “Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own.”
Other artists picking up six nominations each were rap superstar 50 Cent and R&B diva Beyonce Knowles, while Missy Elliot, Alicia Keys and Gwen Stefani took five each.
Stefani’s “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.” was the final nominee for album of the year.
The top female awards look to be another run off between Carey and Stefani, who staged a surprise upset at the American Music Awards last month when she was named favorite female pop/rock artist over the hotly tipped Carey. The two will be up against American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt for best female pop vocal performance.
50 Cent’s huge selling album “The Massacre” was nominated for best rap album in a hotly contested category where nominees also included “Be” by Common, “The Cookbook” by Missy Elliot, Eminem’s “Encore” and West’s “Late Registration.”