The U.S. music industry honors its best artists for the 51st time on February 8 in Los Angeles, California.  Here's a look at the pop, rock, and R&B/hip-hop contenders.

Last year, Lil' Wayne topped the U.S. pop singles chart for five weeks with "Lollipop" - while his sixth studio album Tha Carter III outsold all other U.S. releases.  Now, the New Orleans rapper stands on the brink of his first Grammy success.  He tops this year's field with eight nominations spanning every rap category, including Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song, for "Lollipop."
Lil' Wayne's been in the rap game for more than a decade, but for Leona Lewis, success came much more swiftly.  As an aspiring singer/songwriter, this London native held a variety of day jobs while pursuing her dream of music stardom. In 2006, Leona's boyfriend persuaded her to enter the British TV talent show X Factor.  Not only did she win, but the show's creator Simon Cowell  proclaimed her a superstar.  Leona's debut album Spirit has sold more than six-million copies worldwide, while Leona competes in three Grammy categories, including Record Of The Year, for "Bleeding Love."

Later this year, Leona Lewis will release her autobiography - at the young age of 23.
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, whose membership determines Grammy winners, has, at times, been accused of favoring veteran acts over new talent. Occasionally, however, long-time favorites detour into unexpected musical terrain.  Take, for instance, Robert Plant: the former Led Zeppelin vocalist teamed with bluegrass musician Alison Krauss in the surprise hit album Raising Sand.  Last year, they took home the Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals - and this year they compete in the same category with "Rich Woman."

If the song wins, Alison will likely have her acceptance speech already written.  She's a 21-time Grammy winner, tying her with Aretha Franklin for the most by a female artist. Robert's only a two-time winner, and never with Led Zeppelin.
The Best New Artist category reflects the hit-and-miss nature of the Grammys.  Past winners who went on to even greater glory include The Beatles, Mariah Carey, and Christina Aguilera.  Among the Recording Academy's less-inspired choices were The Starland Vocal Band, A Taste of Honey, and Milli Vanilli, who were forced to relinquish their award after it was discovered they didn't sing a note on their album.
This year's crop of hopefuls includes British singer Adele; Welsh soul vocalist Duffy; U.S. teen sensation The Jonas Brothers; country trio Lady Antebellum; and R & B singer Jazmine Sullivan.

Although the Jonas Brothers formed in 2005, they only rose to full-scale stardom last year.  Hence, their presence in the Best New Artist category.
We'll close our look at the 51st annual Grammy Awards with four-time winner Coldplay.  The British rock quartet netted seven nominations this year, second only to Lil' Wayne.  Their single, is "Viva La Vida"  is in the running for Record and Song Of The Year.