Grammy nominations show was a ladies' night

Beyoncé and Taylor Swift scoop up 18 nominations between them, but Whitney Houston is a surprising absence.

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

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    The Black Eyed Peas perform during The Grammy Nominations Concert Live - Countdown to the Music's Biggest Night event in Los Angeles, California, Thursday.
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It was ladies' night at the 52nd Grammy Awards nominations show Wednesday evening. This is the second year in a row that the Grammy nominations have been presented at a live event in downtown Los Angeles. Once again, the list of acts being honored skewed heavily to the young female, pop artist, leading off with Beyoncé Knowles who received 10 nods, followed closely by 19-year-old country music crossover phenom Taylor Swift who earned eight.

Behind those marquee names, a string of tried-and-true acts lined up for their work (the nominations honor work recorded from Oct. 1, 2008, to Aug. 31, 2009). The Black Eyed Peas, Maxwell, and Kanye West landed six each; David Guetta, Jay-Z, and Lady Gaga earned five each; and Colbie Caillat, Michael Giacchino, Kings of Leon, John Newton, RedOne, Bruce Springsteen, T-Pain, and Keith Urban each took in four nominations, while rock icon Neil Young was tapped in two categories: "Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance," and his Archives Vol. 1 (1963-1972) was nominated for "Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package."

"The Grammys often serve as a barometer measuring the current pulse of the music industry and our cultural climate as a whole," says Ashley Dos Santos, a pop culture analyst and account supervisor at Crosby-Volmer International Communications. "The nominations tell us much of what we already know – Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift are the bee's knees in music this year." But it also speaks to how the classics will never die, she adds, pointing to Bon Jovi, Tony Bennett, and Liza Minnelli.

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Despite the love directed at the industry's divas, there were some unexpected omissions, points out Billboard editorial director Bill Werde, who says he was surprised that Whitney Houston was overlooked. "The Grammy voters usually pay attention to the whole trajectory of a career," he says, adding that in this case, Houston's comeback album was not just good, but had a couple of what he considers great songs as well as being a remarkable return for a major artist.

Following are the nominees in the top four general categories.

Album of the Year:

I Am... Sasha Fierce (Beyoncé)

The E.N.D. (The Black Eyed Peas)

The Fame (Lady Gaga)

Big Whiskey and The GrooGrux King (Dave Matthews Band)

Fearless (Taylor Swift)

Record of the Year:

"Halo" (Beyoncé)

"I Gotta Feeling" (The Black Eyed Peas)

"Use Somebody" (Kings of Leon)

"Poker Face" (Lady Gaga)

"You Belong With Me" (Taylor Swift)

Song of the Year:

"Poker Face," Lady Gaga & RedOne, songwriters (Lady Gaga)

"Pretty Wings," Hod David & Musze, songwriters (Maxwell)

"Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)," Thaddis Harrell, Beyoncé Knowles, Terius Nash & Christopher Stewart, songwriters (Beyoncé)

"Use Somebody," Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill & Nathan Followill, songwriters (Kings of Leon)

"You Belong With Me," Liz Rose & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)

Best New Artist:

Zac Brown Band

Keri Hilson

MGMT

Silversun Pickups

The Ting Tings

For a complete list of nominations, go to grammy.com.

The Grammys will be presented at the Staples Center on Jan. 31, 2010, and broadcast live on CBS.

Staff writer Daniel B. Wood contributed to this report.

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