Adele scored six Grammy nominations on Wednesday, including for record, song and album of the year, but the owner of the 2011's best-selling album with "21" wasn't the night's top nominee - and that wasn't the evening's only surprise.
Kanye West came away with a leading seven nominations, including a bid for song of the year for his all-star song "All of the Lights." However, the album from which it came - "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," heralded by many critics as the best album of 2010 - was not in the best album category, and all of his other nominations were relegated to the rap fields.
Other notable omissions in the top categories included country phenomenon Taylor Swift and veteran crooner Tony Bennett.
Bruno Mars and the Foo Fighters tied Adele with six nominations each, including in the album of the year category. Lil Wayne had five nods and critical-darling folky act Bon Iver scored four nominations, with two in the prestigious record and song of the year categories. But dubstep star Skrillex may have been the night's biggest surprise, getting five nominations, including a bid for best new artist.
"It feels incredible. Me and these guys, we locked ourselves in the studio not too far from here and worked on this album, especially 'Grenade,"' Mars said after the nominations were announced. "That's the song we worked the hardest on. That's like our trophy right there. Of all the songs we've been fortunate enough to be a part of this year, we were most proud of that one."
The nominations were announced after the Recording Academy's fourth annual live concert special, which aired on CBS from the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. The hour-long event featured key nominees like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and the Band Perry.
Even though Adele didn't get the lion's share of nominations, she got them where it counted: Her "21," the mournful post-breakup album that produced smash hits like the torch ballad "Someone Like You" - was nominated for album of the year. The searing groove "Rolling in the Deep," which spent seven weeks at No. 1 this past summer, got nominations for both record and song of the year. Only Mars got nominations in all three categories as well.
Other nominees in the record of the year category included Bon Iver's ballad "Holocene"; Mars' ballad "Grenade"; Mumford & Sons' "The Cave"; and Katy Perry's inspirational anthem "Firework." For song of the year, which honors the writers of the tune, contenders included "The Cave," ''Grenade, "Holocene" and Lady Gaga's "You and I."
The best album category was as noteworthy for who was excluded as it was for who was nominated. Lady Gaga garnered her third straight nod in the category for "Born This Way," while veteran rockers the Foo Fighters were nominated for "Wasting Light," along with Mars' debut album, "Doo-Wops & Hooligans," and Rihanna's steamy dance album "Loud."
Shut out were perceived favorites like 85-year-old Bennett, who became the oldest person to score a No. 1 debut when his "Duets II" album was released earlier this year, and the megawatt collaboration of Jay-Z and West with the heavily hyped "Watch The Throne."
The biggest snub may have been to Swift, who won in the category in 2010 and was considered by some critics to be a favorite for "Speak Now," which has sold 3.7 million copies. She did get three nominations, however, including for best country album.
(Another blonde diva, Beyonce, merited just two nominations in lesser categories).
Unlike the past two years, which saw Swift and fellow country act Lady Antebellum soar in the general categories, the only country act that got a mainstream nomination was the country sibling act The Band Perry. Best known for their poignant ballad "If I Die Young," they got a nomination for best new artist.
"It's been an amazing evening," said lead singer Kimberly Perry. "We got the good news yesterday that our debut album went platinum, it was certified yesterday, to so follow it with a nomination tonight is phenomenal. We're just in the clouds, absolutely."
Their competition also includes Bon Iver, Jay-Z rap protege J. Cole, Skrillex and rapper-singer Nicki Minaj, who scored four nominations in total.
The 54th Grammys will be held Feb. 12 in Los Angeles. The ceremony will mark the first since the academy shaved its categories from 109 to 78 this year, amid some protest. Some of the more niched categories, like best Zydeco or Cajun music album, were eliminated.
In addition, men and women now compete together in vocal categories for pop, R&B and country, instead of having separate categories for each sex. This year, the category is best pop solo performance and Bruno Mars is the only man nominated for "Grenade." His competition includes Adele for "Someone Like You," Lady Gaga for "You and I," Pink for "(Expletive) Perfect" and Perry for "Firework."