Ask rapper Eminem about this year’s best-album nominees and you’ll get a typically profane response. ”That’s f—in’ bulls —,” says the triple nominee, bemoaning the lack of hip-hop. Still, there appeared to be less grousing than usual following the Jan. 4 press conference to announce the 1999 nominations (the Grammys will be awarded Feb. 23). ”I don’t think anybody was robbed here,” says Clive Davis, embattled head of Arista Records. ”This is not a year when a Bob Dylan should have been nominated and wasn’t.” Davis should be cheerful: He produced Carlos Santana’s Supernatural, which spawned an impressive 11 nominations, including Album, Record, and Song of the Year. TLC, Cher, and Ricky Martin also scored big. And after being nearly shut out last year, teen pop was finally recognized. The Backstreet Boys enjoyed four nods; Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, combined, earned four as well. ”You’d have to be deaf, dumb, and blind to not recognize the commercial viability of these artists,” says Jive Records president Barry Weiss, whose label roster includes Spears and the B Boys. Here are some other notable Academy choices:
— BIGGEST WINNERS WHO AREN’T SANTANA As predicted by absolutely no one, jazz singer/pianist Diana Krall and obscure blues-rock musician Susan Tedeschi were nominated for best album (When I Look in Your Eyes) and best new artist, respectively.
— BIGGEST LOSER Alt-rock. In recent years the Academy has reserved a best-album slot for credibility-boosting bands like Radiohead and Garbage. This year, critical faves like Nine Inch Nails were virtually absent from all major categories (that cred slot went to Krall).
— BEST SURPRISE Soul oddity Macy Gray nabbed best new artist and best female R&B vocal performance, despite little commercial clout.
— STRANGEST OMISSION Max Martin, the man behind Backstreet’s ”I Want It That Way” and Britney’s ”…Baby One More Time,” didn’t get a Producer of the Year nod.
— SIGN THE GRAMMYS ARE GETTING HIPPER Moby and Tom Waits each scored in multiple slots.
— SIGN THEY AREN’T So did Sting and Melissa Etheridge.