Grammy Nominations Include Few Surprises

Most of the usual suspects, from Whitney Houston to Billy Joel, are in the running for the awards March 1

MAYBE we should rename them the ``Stings.''

The prolific British pop star, the former lead singer of The Police, received six Grammy nominations last week, more than any singer. [Sting slipped from his spot as top vote-getter Tuesday after it was reported that a mistake had deprived composer-producer David Foster of two Grammy nominations. The first was for ``When I Fall in Love,'' from his arrangement of the Barbra Streisand single ``Some Enchant-ed Evening.'' As a result, the number of Foster's nominations rose from five to seven.]

Sting was nominated for Album of the Year (``Ten Summoner's Tales''), Record, Song, and Male Pop Vocal of the Year (for ``If I Ever Lose My Faith in You''), and Best Rock Vocal (for his remake of the Police song ``Demolition Man''), and Best Longform Music Video.

Other Record of the Year nominations for singles include: ``A Whole New World (Aladdin's Theme)'', Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle; ``I Will Always Love You,'' Whitney Houston; ``River of Dreams,'' Billy Joel, and ``Harvest Moon,'' Neil Young.

There were plenty of familiar names among the nominees. Multiple nominations went to Alan Menken (``Aladdin''), producer David Foster, Whitney Houston, Billy Joel, and R.E.M., among others.

Album of the Year entries besides Sting are: ``Kamakiriad,'' Donald Fagen; ``The Bodyguard'' soundtrack, Whitney Houston; ``River of Dreams,'' Billy Joel; and ``Automatic For the People,'' R.E.M. The only surprise here is Fagen. Although the album was only mildly well received and wasn't a big seller, it features the sumptuous pop production Grammy voters adore. This category is wide open. ``The Bodyguard'' contains negligible non-Houston material, and R.E.M.'s album wasn't as big as their last. Look for this to be a tossup between Sting and Billy Joel, a perennial Grammy favorite.

What many critics regarded as the best album of the year, Neil Young's ``Harvest Moon,'' wasn't even nominated.

The song-of-the-year nominations duplicate the record nominations with the exception of Houston's ``I Will Always Love You,'' which was written by Dolly Parton years ago, and hence is ineligible. In its place is the bombastic ``I'd Do Anthing for Love (But I Won't Do That),'' by Jim Steinman, a major comeback hit for Meat Loaf.

Tina Turner earned a nomination for Best Pop Vocal, Female, with ``I Don't Wanna Fight.'' And Boy George earned his first solo nomination for his remake of the song ``The Crying Game,'' from the movie soundtrack.

Strong nominees for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group include Barbra Streisand and Michael Crawford's ``The Music of the Night'' and R.E.M.'s ``Man on the Moon.''

Streisand also received a nod for Best ``Traditional'' Pop Vocal Performance for her ``Back to Broadway'' album. But her competition is steep, including Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, and Michael Crawford.

Several nominations came out of the tribute concert for Bob Dylan at Madison Square Garden. Neil Young received a Rock Vocal nod for his rendition of ``All Along the Watchtower'' at the Bobfest, and Dylan himself - with the powerhouse group of Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, and George Harrison -

was nominated in the category of Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal for ``My Back Pages.''

Although no one seems to know exactly what it means, there is a category for ``Alternative Music Album.'' R.E.M. (also nominated for Best Album) is in the running, as are Belly, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and U2.

One of the year's biggest album sellers, Janet Jackson, received no pop nominations, although she did receive two * & B nominations for ``That's the Way Love Goes,'' from her album ``janet.'' In the * & B Male Vocal category, veterans like Ray Charles and Teddy Pendergrass are competing against relative newcomers like Babyface and Tevin Campbell.

Trouble with the law is apparently no problem with the Grammy committee. Dr. Dre, who spent a good part of this year under house arrest, and Snoop Doggy Dog, who is currently charged as an accomplice to a murder, are nominated for Best Rap Performance for ``Nuthin' But a `G' Thang.''

An unlikely Country Vocal nomination went to Aaron Neville for the title track of his ``Grand Tour'' album. He's up against traditional country singers Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, George Jones, and Dwight Yoakam.

One of the most competitive categories is the Best Musical Album For Children. Peter, Paul & Mary are the only humans in the running here. Their competition includes animated characters (``Aladdin''), puppets (``The Muppet Christmas Carol''), stop-motion animated figures (``The Nightmare Before Christmas''), and a large purple dinosaur named Barney.

* The Grammy Awards will be telecast live by CBS on March 1 from Radio City Music Hall.

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