By Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen The Grammy Awards nominations are always somewhat unpredictable, and this year is no different. While Kayne West grabbed...

By Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

The Grammy Awards nominations are always somewhat unpredictable, and this year is no different. While Kayne West grabbed eight nods, and Amy Winehouse six, a strong mix of new and established artists followed. The Foo Fighters, Jay-Z, Timbaland, Justin Timberlake and T-Pain all had five nominations, and Akon, Dierks Bentley,Chris Daughtry, Feist, Tim McGraw, John Newton, Ne-Yo, Rihanna and Bruce Springsteen garnered four nods each. With a record 110 categories, the gelt will be handed out to many at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles; once again it will be broadcast live in high definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on CBS from 8 – 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

The Album Of The Year category represents the most diverse genres in Grammy history with country, hip-hop, jazz, pop and rock nominees: Vince Gill, West, Herbie Hancock, Winehouse and Foo Fighters. Hancock was the main surprise because jazz artists rarely get nominated for Album of the Year while Gill and the Foo Fighters were deemed long shots by the pundits. Left out in the category were perennials Springsteen, Paul McCartney and Norah Jones as well as some critically acclaimed newcomers such as the Arcade Fire, White Stripes and Maroon 5.

Winehouse was the only artist to get nominations in the top three categories: Album, Song and Record of the Year. She added to the trifecta with a nod for Best New Artist of the year–a dubious category considering nominee Feist has already released four albums. The Recording Academy, the organization that runs the Grammy Awards, says that an artist is eligible when they first brake through and establishes a public identity. Interestingly, and for the first time ever, all the nominees in the Best New Artist of the year c females dominate the category with four solo and artists and a group with a female lead singer: Winehouse, Feist, Ledisi, Taylor Swift and Paramore, the group led by Hayley Williams.

The Grammy nominations are generally based upon the music released between Oct. 1, 2006 and Sept. 30, 2007 without regards to what happens to an artist in the press or whether the artist had a successful tour or not or even toured. Thus while Winehouse canceled many concerts, entered rehab and made a mess of her career, it had no effect on her Grammy Award eligibility.

Perhaps the most intriguing category is Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Story Telling) where Barack Obama, Maya Angelou, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Alan Alda are vying for the Grammy. Clinton won in 2004 and 2005 (Hilary Clinton won in 1997); Obama prevailed in 2006; and Carter took home the award last year.

Some of the artists with the biggest-selling tours did not receive nominations this year simply because they did not release new music, including The Police, Van Halen and Genesis. However, Springsteen, Timberlake, McGraw and others toured extensively and also received Grammy nominations.

Nominees for the four main categories are:

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)

Record Of The Year:
“Irreplaceable” (Beyoncé)
“The Pretender” (Foo Fighters)
“Umbrella” (Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z)
“What Goes Around…Comes Around” (Justin Timberlake)
“Rehab” (Amy Winehouse)

Song Of The Year:
“Before He Cheats,” John Kear & Chris Tompkins, songwriters (Carrie Underwood, artist)
“Hey There Delilah,” Tom Higgenson, songwriter (Plain White T’s, artist)
“Like A Star,” Corinne Bailey Rae, songwriter (Corinne Bailey Rae, artist)
“Rehab,” Amy Winehouse, songwriter (Amy Winehouse, artist)
“Umbrella,” Shawn Carter, Kuk Harrell, Terius “Dream” Nash & Christopher Stewart, songwriters (Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z, artist)

Best New Artist:
Taylor Swift
Amy Winehouse