Mary J. Blige capped a big year with a leading eight nominations for the 49th annual Grammy Awards, including nods for best R&B album, record and song.
The Breakthrough, which included the singer's collaboration with U2 on "One," was among the year's best-selling albums and also judged by critics as one of the strongest albums of Blige's career.
Competing in the best-album category will be the Dixie Chicks' Taking the Long Way, Gnarls Barkley's St. Elsewhere, John Mayer's Continuum, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Stadium Arcadium and Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds.
Blige's "Be Without You" will vie for the best record award against James Blunt's ubiquitous ballad "You're Beautiful," the Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice," Gnarls Barkley's radio hit "Crazy" and British neo-soul singer Corinne Bailey Rae's "Put Your Records On."
Four of those songs -- "Not Ready to Make Nice," "You're Beautiful," "Be Without You" and "Put Your Records On"-- will vie for best song, a songwriter's award. Rounding out that category: "Jesus, Take the Wheel," a hit for American Idol winner Carrie Underwood.
Underwood also is in the running for best new artist. That category also includes Blunt, Rae, R&B singer Chris Brown and British singer-songwriter Imogen Heap.
Trailing Blige for the most nominations was the Chili Peppers, which received six, mostly in rock categories. The Dixie Chicks, Blunt, Mayer, Danger Mouse, Prince, producer Rick Rubin, will.i.am and composer John Williams had five each. The prime-time Grammy telecast will air Feb. 11 on CBS.
The list of major nominees snubbed a veteran star who had been expected to make a strong showing. Despite topping the pop charts, Bob Dylan's critically acclaimed Modern Times wasn't included among the year's best albums.
Jim Abbott writes for the Orlando Sentinel.