Grammys: Timberlake, Blige likely to head nominations

James Blunt and Corinne Bailey Rae are among those tipped to be named Grammy Award nominees at a US ceremony to announce shortlisters later today. Rae is also expected to attend the announcement ceremony.

James Blunt and Corinne Bailey Rae are among those tipped to be named Grammy Award nominees at a US ceremony to announce shortlisters later today. Rae is also expected to attend the announcement ceremony.

Another British artist popular in the US is KT Tunstall, who had a hit with the song Black Horse and the Cherry Tree. Critics say she has a good chance of entering the best new artist category.

US artists Mary J Blige and Justin Timberlake, meanwhile, are likely to be nominated for multiple Grammy Awards.

With her album The Breakthrough, Mary J Blige is tipped to go into the Album of the Year bracket and a host of other categories. Timberlake’s successful second solo CD, FutureSex/LoveSounds also makes him a favourite.

The Breakthrough, which was released in the US last December, was not only critically acclaimed, but one of the best-selling US albums of the year. It marked a major comeback for R&B veteran Blige, who made her debut in 1992 with the album What’s the 411?

It has already garnered her plenty of awards - the 35-year-old singer collected nine trophies at Monday’s Billboard Awards, and got two American Music Awards last month.

“This is probably the best year of her career,” said Chuck Arnold, music critic for People magazine. “She’s been around a long time but hasn’t really gotten the love in the major categories. This could be her year to break through.”

Blige is expected to help announce the nominations at the Henry Fonda theatre in Hollywood, along with Justin Timberlake, KT Tunstall, James Blunt and Amy Lee of the rock group Evanescence.

Although appearing at the announcement ceremony is not a guarantee of a nomination, it is pretty close. And it is very likely Timberlake will be a frequent name mentioned later.

His CD, FutureSex/LoveSounds, is a multiplatinum success and has generated two smash hits, including SexyBack.

“He’s a favourite of both the public and the industry,” said Arnold, who predicted the 25-year-old will receive an album of the year nod and other big nominations.

American Idol winner Carrie Underwood, who was named female vocalist of the year at last month’s Country Music Awards, is also likely to be nominated.

The Recording Academy is “still reluctant to show too much love to ‘American Idol’ people,” Arnold said, “but I would say she has a real good chance”.

Underwood’s album, Some Hearts, was one of the top sellers of 2006, with 3.7 million copies sold.

Hip-hop duo Gnarls Barkley can also expect to feel Grammy love. The collaboration between singer Cee-Lo Green and DJ Danger Mouse yielded one of the summer’s biggest hit songs, Crazy.

“I definitely think they’ll get record of the year,” Arnold said. Crazy is just one of those songs that succeeded on every level, as a big commercial hit and a critical one.”

“It was a good year for music,” he said, adding: “There are certainly enough good choices. Hopefully (the academy) will look beyond the big sellers and get some of the artists who had really good years artistically.”

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