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Kanye, Bruno Vie for Top Music Honors

  • Ray McDonald

Bruno Mars performs on the NBC "Today" television program in New York, June 24, 2011.

Bruno Mars performs on the NBC "Today" television program in New York, June 24, 2011.

Los Angeles hosts the 54th annual Grammy Awards ceremony on February 12. Here's a look at the contenders in the Pop, Rock, and Rap categories.

Last year, Bruno Mars announced his entry into stardom by picking up a Grammy win for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. This year, the Hawaiian native is up for six trophies, among them Record and Song Of The Year, both for "Grenade"; and Album Of The Year, for Doo-Wops & Hooligans.

Leading all nominees is rapper Kanye West, who drew seven, including Song Of The Year for “All Of The Lights.” He competes with himself in the Best Rap Song category, running with both “All Of The Lights” and “Otis,” his duet with Jay-Z.

Three acts received six Grammy nominations apiece: Bruno Mars, rock act the Foo Fighters, and Adele, who first tasted Grammy success in 2009, after being named Best New Artist. Inspired by a broken relationship, her sophomore album 21 is now the best-selling album of the 21st Century in her native United Kingdom. It was also the best-selling album of 2011 in the United States, and as of January, 2012 has sold 17 million copies worldwide. 21 is nominated for Album Of The Year, while the chart-topping hit “Rolling In The Deep” competes for Record and Song Of The Year.

Over the past decade, comparatively few British acts found success on U.S. charts. The trend reversed itself in 2011. Adele and Jessie J earned hits on the pop singles chart, while folk-rockers Mumford & Sons continue to impress Stateside listeners. Last year the quartet competed for Best New Artist; this year, it drew four Grammy nominations, including Record and Song Of The Year for “The Cave.”

Also drawing four Grammy nominations is Bon Iver. Despite issuing its debut album in 2008, this folk-rock band from Wisconsin is competing in the Best New Artist category. Acts can be nominated for the year in which they achieve widespread awareness. Bon Iver is also competing for Best Alternative Music album, while the song “Holocene” is up for Record and Song Of The Year.

In a controversial move, Grammy governing body the Recording Academy has narrowed the field of awards categories from 109 to 78. Many cuts involve smaller, ethnically-oriented genres, which drew criticism from the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The civil rights leader requested a meeting with Recording Academy president Neil Portnow, who expressed openness to hearing his views.

The Best New Artist category - one of the most unpredictable - has produced winners ranging from so-called “one-hit wonders” to such super acts as The Beatles and Mariah Carey. Competing this year are Bon Iver; country act The Band Perry; rappers J. Cole and Nicki Minaj; and electronic artist Skrillex.