Akon, Fergie on track for Grammy nominations
LOS ANGELES, (Reuters Life!) - What does it take to get pop singer Fergie, R&B star Akon and members of the rock band Linkin Park out of bed at the crack of dawn?
A Grammy, perhaps?
The chart-topping acts are among the artists who will announce nominees for the music industry's most coveted awards in Hollywood on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. PST (1600 GMT). At past events, most of the early risers have been mysteriously rewarded with nominations, and many have gone on to take home statuettes.
Of the nine announcers last year, eight were nominated, including leading contenders Mary J. Blige, James Blunt and Justin Timberlake. The year before, it was five out of eight.
This year's lineup also includes country veteran Vince Gill, who already has 18 Grammy wins, actor/comedian George Lopez, and rookie country star Taylor Swift.
Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie, a.k.a. Stacey Ferguson, already has three Grammys, while Linkin Park has two (the band will be represented at the event by singer Chester Bennington and multi-instrumentalist Mike Shinoda).
The musicians have all enjoyed chart success with their latest albums. Linkin Park went to No. 1 in May with "Minutes to Midnight." Fergie peaked at No. 2 with her debut solo album "The Dutchess," which yielded three No. 1 singles.
Akon, a Grammy nominee last year, also went to No. 2, with his second release, "Konvicted." The album generated two No. 1 singles. Swift peaked at No. 8 last month with her self-titled debut. Gill's four-disc set "These Days" opened at No. 17 in October 2006.
The Grammys, determined by 12,000 music industry professionals who belong to the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, are supposed to focus solely on creative excellence. But commercial success is a useful way of getting voters' attention.
Other artists who have a good shot of being nominated on Thursday include Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Kanye West, Rihanna, John Fogerty, Amy Winehouse, John Legend and Ozzy Osbourne.
The 50th annual Grammy Awards will take place in Los Angeles on February 10.
(Reporting by Dean Goodman; editing by Patricia Reaney)