Will Jay-Z continue his boycott of the Grammys, now that he and the Bonnie to his Clyde are among the top nominees?
After years of undervaluing hip-hop and R&B at the Grammy Awards — the reason Jay stayed away from the proceedings — the Recording Academy has pulled an about-face. The majority of acts up for the top two categories this year — Record of the Year and Song of the Year — hail from the hip-hop and R&B communities, as do all of the artists with the most nominations. Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Outkast and Pharrell Williams lead the pack with six nominations each, the Recording Academy revealed Thursday (December 4).
Following close behind the leaders are Eminem, 50 Cent, Missy Elliott, Evanescence, Chad Hugo, Justin Timberlake, Luther Vandross, Ricky Skaggs and Warren Zevon, who each garnered five nominations. With so many artists earning multiple nods, there'll be no clear favorite heading into the 46th annual Grammy Awards, which will be held February 8 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The artists up for Record of the Year are Beyoncé with Jay-Z for "Crazy in Love," Black Eyed Peas with Justin Timberlake for "Where Is the Love," Coldplay for "Clocks," Eminem for "Lose Yourself" and Outkast for "Hey Ya!" The award for Song of the Year, which is given to the songwriter as opposed to the performer, will go to either Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful," Luther Vandross' "Dance With My Father," Avril Lavigne's "I'm With You," Eminem's "Lose Yourself" or Warren Zevon's "Keep Me in Your Heart." Zevon died this year after a battle with cancer.
Album of the Year nominees are Justin Timberlake for Justified, Missy Elliott for Under Construction, Evanescence for Fallen, Outkast for Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below and the White Stripes for Elephant.
"I'm in shock," Beyoncé said of her multiple nods. "What a great honor. These Grammy nominations came just a few days after my performance at the 46664 concert for AIDS awareness in South Africa (see "Beyonce, Bono, Others Perform At AIDS Benefit Show In Cape Town"). This has been one crazy, special year. I feel humbled and blessed."
"You never know what the Grammys are going to do," Evanescence singer Amy Lee said. "They sometimes totally shock you, and I am shocked, totally shocked."
"You know what, man," Pharrell said, "I'm just happy to be recognized. Me and my partner Chad [Hugo], we never expected for it to happen. It's a great feeling."
Of course, the 2003 nominations aren't all completely sensible — that would defy convention. The first head-scratcher of this year surfaces in the Best New Artist category with the nomination of Fountains of Wayne. The band formed in 1996 and its latest offering, Welcome Interstate Managers, is its third album. The other nominees in the category are the somewhat newer Evanescence, 50 Cent, Heather Headley and Sean Paul.
Another peculiarity is Blu Cantrell's nomination for Best R&B Album for Bittersweet, which received a lukewarm reception by critics and fans. Cantrell will be up against Erykah Badu, Aretha Franklin, the Isley Brothers featuring Ronald Isley a.k.a Mr. Biggs, and Luther Vandross in that category.
In addition to being up for Album of the Year and Best New Artist, Evanescence have been nominated for three awards in the rock categories, including Best Rock Album,
and Best Hard Rock Performance and Best Rock Song for "Bring Me to Life."
"Best New Artist is the coveted thing — I think that would be the end-all," Lee said. "But any of them. To win a single one of these is going to make my dad so happy. It's a really big deal."
While heavy music goliaths like Metallica, Marilyn Manson and Korn and break-out act Stone Sour are no surprise in the Best Metal Performance category, Spineshank's spot in that field is sure to turn some heads. It's a somewhat more eclectic mix in the Best Alternative Music Album category, where Flaming Lips, Radiohead, Sigur Rós, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the White Stripes will compete.
Nominees were announced Thursday by Pharrell, Amy Lee, Moby, Jason Mraz, Stacie Orrico, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Sarah McLachlan, Steve Vai, MC Lyte and Brad Paisley at the Beverly Hilton Hotel Grand Ballroom in Beverly Hills, California.
For a complete list of nominees, visit Grammy.com.
For more Grammy news, check out the MTV News Grammy Archive.
[This story was updated at 4:54 p.m. ET on 12.4.03]