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Breakout star Lizzo tops Grammy noms, in field full of new talent

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New York (AFP)

Singer and rapper Lizzo scored eight Grammy nominations Wednesday to lead a field packed with newcomers, including bold pop iconoclast Billie Eilish and overnight sensation Lil Nas X, for music's biggest honors.

The diverse slate of budding talent appeared to reflect the Recording Academy's recent efforts to appease critics of the organization behind the gala, who have routinely lambasted it as too white, too male and too generous to music world mainstays.

The magnetic 31-year-old Lizzo debuted in 2013 but truly burst into the public eye this year with her third studio album "Cuz I Love You," which scored a nomination for the top Album of the Year prize at the Grammys, which will take place on January 26 in Los Angeles.

Lizzo -- a classically trained flautist born Melissa Viviane Jefferson -- was nominated in all four of the top categories.

She has won flocks of adoring fans who favor her sassy, body-positive persona and unflinching messages on feminist empowerment, sexual freedom and black pride.

"THIS HAS BEEN AN INCREDIBLE YEAR FOR MUSIC AND IM JUST SO THANKFUL TO EVEN BE PART OF IT," the artist tweeted upon learning of her nominations.

Eilish also nabbed a shot at best album for "When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?" to bring her total nomination count to six -- and, at age 17, became the youngest person nominated in all the top four categories.

Prior to her album's release, the goth-leaning artist had already won a fervent online fan base for her bold pop style that features heavy bass and tinges of trap and EDM.

Genre-bending meme king Lil Nas X, 20, rode the fame of his viral smash "Old Town Road" to also snag six chances at Grammy gold.

After first grabbing attention on the video-sharing app TikTok, the artist born Montero Lamar Hill won the internet when the thumping bass and banjo twangs of his infectious single booted Ariana Grande from the Billboard chart's top overall spot -- and stayed there for a record-breaking 19 weeks.

The newbies will square up against some superstar challengers.

Grande -- whose album "thank u, next" missed last year's Grammy deadline -- bagged five nominations for the 2020 gala.

Beyonce earned four nods on the strength of her Netflix concert film about her dazzling 2018 Coachella performance and the album accompanying this year's "Lion King" film remake.

The enigmatic R&B prodigy H.E.R., who won two Grammys last year, also got five nominations this year, including for Album of the Year.

- Swift snub -

Once an Academy darling with 10 Grammy trophies to her name, Taylor Swift was, like last year, largely snubbed from the major categories for her new album "Lover," except for Song of the Year -- which honors best songwriting -- for her title track.

She is up for just three awards this year, the two others coming in the pop categories.

Last year, the Recording Academy expanded the fields of the four major categories from five nominees to eight, in a bid to diversify the slate of potentials and respond to critics bemoaning the underrepresentation of women.

Along with the nomination leaders, the top categories feature a mix of pop newcomers and veteran alt-leaning acts including Lana Del Rey, Bon Iver and Vampire Weekend.

The Best Rap Album category features Meek Mill and 21 Savage, both of whom faced controversial legal struggles this year that drew critiques that the artists were targeted over race.

The late rapper Nipsey Hussle -- who was shot dead earlier this year at age 33 -- received three posthumous nominations in the rap categories, having lost the 2019 prize for Best Rap Album to Cardi B.

Irish band The Cranberries were shortlisted for Best Rock Album, having released their final album "In The End" a year after lead singer Dolores O'Riordan was found dead.

The 2020 gala will be the first under new Academy chief Deborah Dugan, who took over this summer after predecessor Neil Portnow came under fire by saying women should "step up" for increased recognition.

"Today's announcement reflects a new era for the Recording Academy," Dugan said in a statement, "an army of engaged members that welcomes diversity, embraces creativity and champions young musicians on the rise."

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