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Grammy Nominations Pit Beyoncé Against Adele

Beyoncé performs onstage during "The Formation World Tour" at Levi's Stadium on Sept. 17 in Santa Clara, California.
Kevin Mazur
Beyoncé performs onstage during "The Formation World Tour" at Levi's Stadium on Sept. 17 in Santa Clara, California.

You'd be forgiven for viewing nominations for the 59th Grammy Awards, announced Tuesday morning, as a battle between two powerhouse singers: Beyoncé, whose Lemonade leads the field with nine, and Adele, whose 25 has been a sales juggernaut since its release late last year. Both received Album Of The Year nods, as did Drake's Views, Sturgill Simpson's A Sailor's Guide to Earth and Justin Bieber's Purpose.

When Bieber was nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy back in 2011, he lost to Esperanza Spalding, sparking an outcry from his army of fans. His creative evolution — and rise to pop-radio staple — was richly rewarded Tuesday morning, as he also drew major nominations for Song Of The Year (for "Love Yourself") and Best Pop Vocal Album.

After Beyoncé, leading nominees include Kanye West, Rihanna and Drake (with eight apiece) and Chance The Rapper, whose seven nominations include one for Best New Artist — a field that also includes versatile rapper Anderson .Paak, dance-pop hitmaker The Chainsmokers and country singers Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris.

Given how many genres the Grammys attempt to cover, it's hard to get too hung up on snubs, but the late David Bowie's widely praised final testament Blackstar — released in January, only two days before the singer's death — was surprisingly shut out of Album Of The Year contention, though it's nominated for Best Alternative Music Album alongside Bon Iver, PJ Harvey, Iggy Pop and Radiohead. And Bowie's title song is nominated for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song.

In other major categories, Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year both shape up as Beyoncé vs. Adele battles, for "Formation" and "Hello," respectively. But other artists will have their say in these categories: Record Of The Year also honors Lukas Graham ("7 Years"), Rihanna ("Work," featuring Drake) and Twenty One Pilots ("Stressed Out"), while Song Of The Year nominees include "7 Years" and Mike Posner's "I Took A Pill In Ibiza."

A full list of nominees is available on the Grammys website. The telecast airs Sunday, Feb. 12 on CBS, with host James Corden.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)