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Rockers U2, Soul Divas Lead Grammy Nominees

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Irish rock band U2, which enjoyed a triumphant 2001 playing to sold-out crowds in support of its acclaimed new album, led the list of nominees on Friday for the Grammy Awards, the music industry's top prizes.

U2 picked up eight nominations, including the key album, song and record-of-the-year categories, organizers said at a news conference in Beverly Hills.

In a field largely devoid of the controversy that dogged the 2001 Grammys, when badboy rapper Eminem grabbed all the attention, soulful newcomers India Arie and Alicia Keys grabbed seven and six nominations each, respectively.

The R&B divas will compete against each other for best new artist, a category that also includes pop singers David Gray and Nelly Furtado and rock band Linkin Park.

Grammy winners will be announced during ceremonies on Feb. 27 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The awards, which honor artists in 101 categories, ranging from pop, rock and soul to classical, spoken word and polka, appeared to favor acclaimed singer/songwriters over disposable acts whose songs are written for them by producers.

All the contenders for the song of the year category, which honors the songwriter, performed their own songs.

U2's mournful "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of,'' a tribute to Australian rocker Michael Hutchence, who killed himself, will compete in the category against Arie's "Video,'' Keys' "Fallin','' Furtado's "I'm Like A Bird'' and rock band Train's "Drops of Jupiter.''

"To me, being nominated for a Grammy is kind of like an omen to having a long career,'' said 23-year-old Canadian native Furtado, who received four nominations. "If you expect to be in the biz for a long time a Grammy means a lot to you. And if you're a musician and you write songs, a Grammy means even more.''

'WALK ON' ROCKS TO POLITICAL THEME

Dublin-based U2 -- singer Bono, guitarist the Edge, bass player Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. -- already has 10 Grammys to its credit, including album of the year for its 1987 opus "The Joshua Tree.''

Its contender for the 2002 race, "All That You Can't Leave Behind,'' has sold more than 3.2 million copies in the United States since its release in October 2000. The album's first single, "Beautiful Day'' was released before the Sept. 30 cutoff date for last year's Grammys, allowing the band to win three Grammys in 2001, including record and song of the year.

U2 had about three tunes among the final 10 contenders for song of the year, said Michael Greene, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, which organizes the Grammys. He declined to identify the other two.

However, the U2 song "Walk On'' -- dedicated to Burmese political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi -- is competing for record of the year, while "Elevation'' and "Walk On'' are competing against each other for rock song.

U2 will also compete for rock album, and the pop (''Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of'') and rock (''Elevation'') vocal performance categories.

"Brilliance is something that is hard to keep down,'' Greene enthused. "This is a big record and they will perform on the show.''

Classical conductor and composer Pierre Boulez also picked up six nominations.

THREE NOMINATIONS FOR BOB DYLAN

Among the acts with five nominations were bluegrass musician Alison Krauss, R&B singer Brian McKnight and R&B duo Outkast.

Five artists received four nominations each: producer T-Bone Burnett, Furtado, Train, Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler and country-rocker Lucinda Williams.

Veteran folk rocker Bob Dylan was among the many acts to score three nominations, including album of the year for his acclaimed opus "Love and Theft.''

Greene said the album was important but "a little inaccessible'' to some Grammy voters, which may have accounted for the relative paucity of nods for the tireless troubadour.

Dylan's groundbreaking albums of the 1960s and 1970s were famously overlooked by Grammy voters, fueling complaints that the awards are hopelessly out of touch. Overdue recognition finally came in 1998 when his previous release "Time Out of Mind'' won three Grammys, including album of the year.

Other album-of-the-year nominees this year, besides U2 and Dylan, were Arie's "Acoustic Soul,'' Outkast's "Stankonia'' and the soundtrack to the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?''

Songs nominated for record of the year, a trophy that goes to the artist and producer, were: Arie's "Video,'' "Keys' ''Fallin','' Outkast's "Ms. Jackson,'' Train's "Drops of Jupiter,'' and U2's "Walk On.''

Arie, 26, and Keys, 20, will also compete against each other for female R&B vocal performance, R&B song and R&B album. The only category where they are not head to head is album of the year, where Keys' hit debut "Songs In A Minor'' was a surprise omission.

Arie brushed off talk of a battle of the divas.

"I'm just gonna pray that I will get whatever I deserve,'' Arie said. "Anything's possible (on the night). Nothing's ever going to stop me from making music, so it's not that serious. As long as I'm always inspired, that's the most important thing.''

By Dean Goodman

 
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