Blunt defies critics with nominations for five Grammy awards

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He may inspire ridicule as much as admiration but the American music industry has shown which side its on by giving James Blunt a resounding vote of approval and nominating him for the Grammies.

The British singer is up for five awards, including song of the year for "You're Beautiful". He is also shortlisted for best new artist, and best male pop vocal performance. Blunt was among six British artists nominated for multiple awards announced yesterday. Among them were singers Corinne Bailey Rae and Imogen Heap, the bands the Arctic Monkeys, Goldfrapp, and the Pet Shop Boys.

Blunt, 34, said the Grammys were a "pretty phenomenal institution" and added: "To have my name associated with it is a great honour". Rae was nominated for best new artist but also won a surprise nomination for song of the year for "Put Your Records On."

The artist to attract the most nominations is the R&B singer Mary J Blige, who was nominated for eight awards, including one for single of the year for "Be Without You". She was followed by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers who are up for six, including album of the year for Stadium Arcadium.

Justin Timberlake, who at 25, has already won two Grammys, is up for album of the year for FutureSex/LoveSounds and said: "It is definitely a special thing. I look up to people like Mary, who have been at this for way long than me."

Blige, 35, who has already won three Grammies , said it was a "beautiful thing, that I'm still going." Although her current album, The Breakthrough, has sold more than six million copies worldwide, it did not feature among her nominations.

Rae, a 26 singer-songwriter from Leeds whose silky tones have earned her comparisons with Billie Holiday, has seen a meteoric rise in her career since releasing her debut album in February this year.

She said she found it both "amazing" and "hilarious" she had shared the same stage as Blige."It's really a big moment, when the weirdness of it all comes home", she said, adding: "It's a great end to the year, to go home for Christmas knowing my name is on a list of people I've admired for a long time."

The female country and western American trio Dixie Chicks, who were boycotted by elements of the genre's music industry and saw a drop in album sales after their lead singer, Natalie Maines, criticised President George Bush over the Iraq war, picked up five nominations. Maines had said she was ashamed she and Bush shared the same home state of Texas.

Other British acts who received a single nomination include Sir Paul McCartney, Sting, David Gilmour and UB40. The awards, which are voted on by the Recording Academy, an association of American music professionals, is now in its 49th year. The winners will be announced in a ceremony in Los Angeles in February next year.

And the nominees are...

The leading British nominations:

James Blunt: 5

Corinne Bailey Rae: 3

Arctic Monkeys: 2

Goldfrapp: 2

Imogen Heap: 2

Pet Shop Boys: 2

Most nominated acts:

Mary J Blige: 8

Red Hot Chili Peppers: 6

James Blunt: 5

Dixie Chicks: 5

John Mayer: 5

Danger Mouse: 5

Prince: 5

Rick Rubin: 5 5

John Williams: 5