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U2, Alicia Keys Are Grammy Faves

Veteran Irish rockers U2 and piano songstress Alicia Keys were among the favorites to claim Grammy nominations in a competition shaping up as far less inflammatory than last year’s event. U2’s “Beautiful Day” won record and song of the year honors as a single at last year’s Grammy awards. This year the song is part of the album “All That You Can’t Leave Behind,” making the latter a contender for album of the year.

“All That You Can’t Leave Behind” was released too late to qualify last year, but the single did debut before the Sept. 30 cutoff date.

Two following singles from the album, “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” and “Walk On,” are also potential contenders for best song and record honors this time around.

Keys’ R&B debut disc “Songs in A Minor” has been among the year’s top releases, selling nearly 4.1 million units, fueled by the success of her No. 1 song “Fallin’.”

She led the American Music Award nominees with five honors last month and is a favorite at the Grammys.

Other potential best-album nominees include Bob Dylan’s “Love and Theft,” Linkin Park’s “Hybrid Theory,” Nelly Furtado’s “Whoa, Nelly!” and the bluegrass soundtrack to “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

Last year, the usually mainstream-minded National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences rankled family values proponents and gay activists by handing Eminem four nominations.

Adding to the controversy was the rapper’s performance at the awards show with gay superstar Elton John.

He lost to Steely Dan for album of the year, but took home three other awards. Steely Dan had never won a Grammy prior to last year’s event, but ended up with three by the end of the night.

Presenters for the 44th annual Grammy Awards nominations at the Beverly Hilton include Destiny’s Child, singer Stevie Nicks, Furtado and OutKast.

The award ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 27 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

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