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Grammy reactions: Album, new artist, snubs and surprises

December 3, 2008 | 11:41 pm

The Times' pop music critic Ann Powers and Pop & Hiss' co-editor Todd Martens discuss the nominations for the 51st annual Grammy Awards. They were filmed outside the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles immediately following the announcements.

Album of the year

The nominees:

Ne-Yo's "Year of the Gentleman"
Coldplay' "Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends"
Radiohead's "In Rainbows"
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss' "Raising Sand"
Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter III"

Reaction: The Grammys step a bit out of their comfort zone. Radiohead scored its third album of the year nod for "In Rainbows," and Krauss' magic touch continues (she has a whopping 21 Grammy wins). But an awards telecast not known for embracing rap in its top category is now championing the sexually-explicit and highly charismatic Lil Wayne. Powers and Martens discuss the pick in the above clip.

Who was snubbed? And do the Jonas Brothers deserve best new artist? More after the jump.

Best New Artist

The nominees:

Jonas Brothers
Lady Antebellum
Jazmine Sullivan

Reaction: Soul and R&B dominate the best new artist category, with two exceptions: country-rock newcomers Lady Antebellum and Disney-trained stars the Jonas Brothers. Give the Grammys credit: In a category that has long nominated artists well into their career, this time around Recording Academy voters largely acknowledged artists on their first album. Sullivan's "Fearless," for instance, is only weeks old, and Duffy's "Rockferry" and Lady Antebellum's self-titled album have been some of the year's most-talked-about debuts.

That leaves the Jonas Brothers. The act's first album was released in 2006, but it was 2007 in which the act truly broke through. The band's self-titled album was released in August of last year. And it wasn't exactly under the radar. "Jonas Brothers" debuted at No. 5 on the U.S. pop chart. Best new artist for an act that had a top-10 album during last year's eligibility period? That's a stretch.

Who was snubbed?

Reaction: In the past, Mariah Carey has won such prestigious awards as best new artist and best contemporary R&B album. She even opened the Grammy nomination special Wednesday night. This year, her "E=MC2" was shut out of major categories. But she wasn't the only R&B star to go unrecognized in top categories by Grammy voters. 

And the biggest surprise?

Reaction: How about a song whose hook is a string of gunshots?

--Ann Powers & Todd Martens