No single artist appears likely to dominate the 30th annual Grammy Awards, nominations for which were announced yesterday by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Michael Jackson, who has won 11 Grammys in the past, received four nominations -- including album of the year -- for "Bad," his first release in four years.
Los Lobos, the veteran Mexican American band, also received four nominations for its work on the sound track of "La Bamba," including record of the year for its cover of Ritchie Valens' 30-year-old hit, pop vocal performance by a group, rock vocal performance by a group and song of the year (again for "La Bamba"). U2, the socially conscious Irish quartet, was also cited four times -- the group's first Grammy nominations -- for record of the year and song of the year ("I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"), album of the year and best rock vocal group performance ("The Joshua Tree").
Joining Jackson and U2 as album of the year nominees were Prince (for "Sign o' the Times"), Whitney Houston (for "Whitney") and Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris for "Trio." Harris was cited in three other minor categories for "Trio," her long-delayed collaboration with the two vocal superstars.
Suzanne Vega, a veteran of the Greenwich Village club scene, was nominated for record of the year, song of the year and best female pop vocal performance for "Luka," a moving folk-oriented song about child abuse. Whitney Houston, whose second album was one of the year's biggest sellers, also received three nominations, for album of the year, best pop female vocal (for "I Wanna Dance With Somebody") and best R&B vocal by a female (for "For the Love of You"). Joining Houston and Vega as best female pop vocal nominees were Carly Simon (for "Coming Around Again"), Belinda Carlisle (for "Heaven Is a Place on Earth") and Barbra Streisand (for "One Voice").
In the record of the year category -- for best single -- nominees included Vega, Los Lobos, U2, Paul Simon (for "Graceland") and Steve Winwood (for "Back in the High Life Again").
The Simon and Winwood songs both are from albums that won major awards at last year's Grammys, suggesting that either the NARAS nominators didn't dig deep enough or that the traditionally conservative academy will continue to stick with safe, middle-of-the-road acts even though the industry last year was dominated by hard rock, heavy metal and rap acts, none of whom made it onto the rolls for this year's Grammys.
Song of the year nominees included U2's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," Vega's "Luka," "La Bamba" (credited to Valens though it was adapted from a Mexican folk song), Houston's "Didn't We Almost Have It All?" (written by Michael Masser and Will Gennings) and "Somewhere Out There," a duet by Ronstadt and James Ingram, written by James Horner, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.
Bruce Springsteen, who released two top-selling albums in the eligibility period, was not nominated in any major category, but received two nominations: for best pop vocal (for "Brilliant Disguise") and for best rock vocal (for "Tunnel of Love"). Joining Jackson and Springsteen as best male pop vocal nominees were Sting for "Bring on the Night," Elton John for his reissued "Candle in the Wind" and Al Jarreau for "Theme from Moonlighting."
In the classical field, singer Kathleen Battle took five nominations and conductor Sir Georg Solti, a 25-time Grammy winner, garnered three more.
Nominated as best new artist were Breakfast Club, Cutting Crew, Terence Trent D'Arby, Swing Out Sister and Jody Watley.
Selections of local interest included reggae nominee Black Uhuru, whose "Brutal Dub" was produced and released on Washington's RAS Records, and Wintley Phillips, whose eponymous album was nominated for best male gospel performance.
As always, the most hotly contested category is best polka recording. Nominees this year include Lenny Gomulka and Dick Pillar for "In Polka Unity," Walt Groller and His Orchestra for "It's Polkamatic," Eddie Blazonczyk's Versatones for "Let's Celebrate Again," Jimmy Sturr and His Orchestra for "A Polka Just for Me" and the long shot, the Kryger Bros.' "Polka Mania."
The Grammys, the music industry's most coveted prizes, are voted on by more than 6,000 members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Grammys will be awarded March 2 at Radio City Music Hall in 73 categories -- among them rock, pop, classical, jazz, Latin, folk, spoken word and new age.