Rapper Kendrick Lamar tops Grammy nods, Taylor Swift leads major categories

Hip-hop superstar Kendrick Lamar performs  Kendrick Lamar at the Roskilde Festival on July 3, 2015.
Hip-hop superstar Kendrick Lamar performs Kendrick Lamar at the Roskilde Festival on July 3, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS
Taylor Swift performs in Times Square on New Year's Eve in New York on  Dec 31, 2014.
Taylor Swift performs in Times Square on New Year's Eve in New York on Dec 31, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Rapper Kendrick Lamar on Monday led nominations for the Grammy Awards, although pop superstar Taylor Swift dominated in the most prominent categories.

Lamar - who has won wide critical acclaim for his politically charged latest album To Pimp a Butterfly - earned 11 nominations for the music industry's biggest awards, which will be announced at a Feb 15 gala in Los Angeles.

Swift and The Weeknd, the rising Canadian R&B star, followed Lamar with seven nominations each.

But Swift was ahead in the four most-watched categories, with nominations in all of them except Best New Artist.

She enjoyed nods for Album of the Year for her blockbuster 1989 and Record of the Year as well as Song of the Year, which recognizes songwriting, for her hit Blank Space.

Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly was also up for Album of the Year, as well as The Weeknd's Beauty Behind the Madness.

English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran's viral ballad Thinking Out Loud was also nominated for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

The Recording Academy, the music industry body that determines the nominations, had more surprising choices for Album of the Year, generally considered the most prestigious category.

Chris Stapleton, a country artist who long worked in the shadows as a songwriter for Nashville's big stars, was nominated for Album of the Year for his first full-length work, Traveller. Stapleton has seen a sudden surge in his career since becoming the unexpected winner last month at the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville.

Along with rap and country, the Recording Academy also branched out by recognising indie rockers. Alabama Shakes, the bluesy rock band defined by frontwoman Brittany Howard's overpowering voice, was nominated for Album of the Year for the group's second album, Sound and Color.

The rising Australian indie rocker Courtney Barnett was nominated for Best New Artist, another category closely watched by the music industry. Barnett, who until a couple of years ago was working as a bartender in Melbourne, has won over a wide audience for her ironic lyricism that reflects on issues ranging from urban gentrification to masturbation.

Also among nominees for Best New Artist were English singer-songwriter James Bay and Meghan Trainor, the pop star who speaks forthrightly about her struggles with body image. Other prominent

Grammy nominees included D'Angelo, the R&B singer who returned to the scene after a 14-year gap by releasing his album Black Messiah with little prior publicity. His song Really Love was nominated for Record of the Year, although he was passed over for Album of the Year.

Uptown Funk, the party anthem by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, was also in contention for Record of the Year.