Mary J. Blige, Justin Among Major Grammy Nominees

Blige gets a leading eight nods, while Timberlake is up for album of the year

Mary J. Blige – with eight – tops the list of nominations in the race for the 49th annual Grammy Awards, announced Thursday by the Recording Academy.

Five of Blige’s nominations are in the R&B field, which includes a nod for best female R&B vocal performance for “Be Without You,” which pits her against Beyonc (“Ring The Alarm”), Mariah Carey (“Don’t Forget About Us”), Natalie Cole (“Day Dreaming”) and India.Arie (“I Am Not My Hair”).

Other multiple nominees are Red Hot Chili Peppers, with six; James Blunt, the Dixie Chicks, John Mayer, Danger Mouse, Prince, Rick Rubin, and John Williams, with five; and Beyonc , Bryan-Michael Cox, Gnarls Barkley, Israel Houghton, T.I, and “SexyBack” singer Justin Timberlake, with four, including the coveted album of the year.

In the best R&B album category, Blige’s Breakthrough – which on Monday won the singer nine trophies at the Billboard Awards and last month earned her two American Music Awards – will compete with Jamie Foxx’s Unpredictable; India.Arie’s Testimony: Vol .1, Life & Relationship; Prince’s 3121, and Lionel Richie’s Coming Home.

In addition to Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, also in the running for album of the year are Taking The Long Way by the Dixie Chicks, St. Elsewhere by Gnarls Barkley, Continuum by John Mayer, Stadium Arcadium by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Those same group mostly make up the field of record of the year contenders: “Be Without You,” Mary J. Blige; “You’re Beautiful,” James Blunt; “Not Ready To Make Nice,” Dixie Chicks; “Crazy,” Gnarls Barkley; and “Put Your Records On,” Corinne Bailey Rae – who, along with James Blunt, Chris Brown, British Imogen Heap and Carrie Underwood is nominated for best new artist.

The 49th Grammy Awards will air live on CBS from the Los Angeles Staples Center on Feb. 11.

PEOPLE, the Recording Academy and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority will hold the official Grammy kickoff party on Dec. 14 at the JET nightclub at the Mirage in Las Vegas, with Jamie Foxx hosting and performances by Fergie, Josh Kelley and John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting.

Here’s a rundown of the top categories:

Album of the Year
Taking The Long Way, Dixie Chicks
St. Elsewhere, Gnarls Barkley
Continuum, John Mayer
Stadium Arcadium, Red Hot Chili Peppers
FutureSex/LoveSounds, Justin Timberlake

Record of the Year
– “Be Without You”, Mary J. Blige
– “You’re Beautiful”, James Blunt
– “Not Ready To Make Nice”, Dixie Chicks
– “Crazy”, Gnarls Barkley
– “Put Your Records On”, Corinne Bailey Rae

Song of the Year
– “Be Without You” (Performed by Mary J. Blige) Johnta Austin, Mary J. Blige, Bryan-Michael Cox & Jason Perry, songwriters
– “Jesus, Take The Wheel ” (Performed by Carrie Underwood) Brett James, Hillary Lindsey & Gordie Sampson, songwriters
– “Not Ready To Make Nice” (Performed by Dixie Chicks) Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines, Emily Robison & Dan Wilson, songwriters
– “Put Your Records On” (Performed by Corinne Bailey Rae) John Beck, Steve Chrisanthou & Corinne Bailey Rae, songwriters
– “You’re Beautiful” (Performed by James Blunt) James Blunt, Amanda Ghost & Sacha Skarbek, songwriters

Best New Artist
– James Blunt
– Chris Brown
– Imogen Heap
– Corinne Bailey Rae
Carrie Underwood

Pop Vocal Album
Back To Basics, Christina Aguilera
Back To Bedlam, James Blunt
The River In Reverse, Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
Continuum, John Mayer
FutureSex/LoveSounds, Justin Timberlake

Rap Album
Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor, Lupe Fiasco
Release Therapy, Ludacris
In My Mind, Pharrell
Game Theory, The Roots
King, T.I.

Rock Album
Try!, John Mayer Trio
Highway Companion, Tom Petty
Broken Boy Soldiers, The Raconteurs
Stadium Arcadium, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Living With War, Neil Young

Country Album
Taking The Long Way, Dixie Chicks
Like Red On A Rose, Alan Jackson
The Road To Here, Little Big Town
You Don’t Know Me: The Songs Of Cindy Walker, Willie Nelson
Your Man, Josh Turner

R&B Album
The Breakthrough, Mary J. Blige
Unpredictable, Jamie Foxx
Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship, India.Arie
3121, Prince
Coming Home, Lionel Richie

Electronic Music/Dance Album
Supernature, Goldfrapp
Confessions On A Dance Floor, Madonna
A Lively Mind, Oakenfold
Fundamental, Pet Shop Boys
The Garden, Zero 7

Alternative Music Album
Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, Arctic Monkeys
At War With The Mystics, The Flaming Lips
St. Elsewhere, Gnarls Barkley
Show Your Bones, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The Eraser, Thom Yorke

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