Taylor Swift could do no wrong in 2009. Not only did the young Pennsylvania native have the year's best-selling album with Fearless, she also earned Artist Of The Year plaudits from Billboard magazine. Her public standing was further bolstered in September, when rapper Kanye West upstaged her during an acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards.
On December 2, Taylor Swift received eight Grammy Award nominations, including Album Of The Year for Fearless, and Record and Song Of The Year, for "You Belong With Me." Taylor's previous brush with Grammy fame came in 2008, when she unsuccessfully competed for Best New Artist.
She is not, however, the most-nominated act of the year. That honor goes to Beyonce Knowles, who collected 10. The former Destiny's Child singer is no stranger to the Grammy Awards, having previously won seven. This year, Beyonce goes head-to-head with Taylor Swift in the Album Of The Year category with I Am…Sasha Fierce. She's in the running for Song Of The Year for "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)," while "Halo" competes for Record Of The Year.
Sharing third place with six nominations apiece are the Black Eyed Peas, R&B singer Maxwell, and Taylor Swift's nemesis Kanye West. The 32-year-old rapper, who swiftly dropped from sight after his MTV incident in September, is a 12-time Grammy Award winner. Among his nominations this year are two entries in the Best Rap Performance By A Duo or Group category, and three entries in Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
The Best New Artist race always provides its share of surprises and controversy. Although many so-called "new" artists are veteran performers, the rules stipulate they may be considered if they achieved a significant breakthrough during the current eligibility period.
While Lady Gaga was among the top breakout stars of 2009, she failed to make the list of nominees, having unsuccessfully competed in last year's Best Dance Recording category. This year, the flamboyant singer received five nominations, including Record, Song, and Album Of The Year.
Competing for Best New Artist are country act The Zac Brown Band; R&B singer/songwriter Keri Hilson; alternative pop duo MGMT; alternative rock act Silversun Pickups; and British pop duo The Ting Tings.
Artists have long prized the Grammy Awards as recognition by their peers. Members of the Recording Academy, which encompasses professionals from the entire musical community, vote through a series of ballots, the last of which were tabulated on January 8. Results will be kept secret until the night of the award ceremony: January 31 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
This year's race draws entrants from 29 musical fields.