Divas and dance pop will rule the 52nd Grammy Awards Sunday. Whether their prominence says something about the need for escapism after a year in which reality TV shows were better than brutal reality or about the music industry's glomming onto pop success in an attempt to shore up its ever-shrinking bottom line, is anyone's guess.
At this year's popular-music celebration -- airing live from L.A.'s Staples Center at 8 p.m. on WFOR-CBS 4 -- Beyoncé, with 10 nods for I Am . . . Sasha Fierce, tops the nominations the way she has topped the charts and pop consciousness. Country-pop teen queen Taylor Swift follows with eight for Fearless, and Lady Gaga, who makes drag queens look demure, has five for The Fame. All three are up for the big categories of Album, Record and Song of the Year.
Ruling urban dance tribe Black Eyed Peas (with trademark femme Fergie) has six nods, including Album and Record of the Year, for The E.N.D. So does misbehaving rapper Kanye West, but his nominations are mostly for rap collaborations rather than for the major categories he has dominated in the past. No rap artists are nominated in the big, general categories, in contrast to recent years when Lil Wayne and West were widely lauded.
Most of the top nominees will perform Sunday night: Beyoncé, the Peas, Swift and Gaga. Dave Matthews Band, the lone rockers up for Album of the Year, will also play, as will Southern rock newbies Zac Brown Band, the token Best New Artist nominee.
A tribute to Michael Jackson features Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson, Smokey Robinson, Carrie Underwood and Usher and will include the premiere of a 3-D mini-movie for Earth Song that Jackson created for his This Is It tour. And the Recording Academy, in a bid for relevance and digital visibility, will let fans follow the awards on Facebook and Twitter.