Eminem and Bruce Springsteen were favorites to dominate Tuesday's Grammy nominations, but a chanteuse, a teen rocker and an R&B songbird could also be up for multiple honors.
Eminem, a five-time Grammy winner, had the year's top-selling album with The Eminem Show and also had a huge movie debut with 8 Mile, the soundtrack of which was among the year's 10 best-selling discs.
"Eminem will definitely be nominated in several categories," predicted Bill Wilson, vice president and general manager at AOL Music.
But Springsteen, a seven-time Grammy recipient, may have had the year's most revered disc, the 9/11-inspired The Rising, which also was his best-selling record in years.
"I think it would be one of the biggest shocks in Grammy nominations history if Springsteen did not come away with a sizable number of nominations and leading the pack with album of the year," said John Norris of MTV News. "He's the kind of artist, and it's the kind of record, that Grammy voters seem to go for."
If Eminem were nominated for album of the year, few expect the kind of firestorm that accompanied his nomination in 2000. The Eminem Show was less polarizing than the misogynistic, epithet-filled The Marshall Mathers LP, and 2002 seemed to be the year that mainstream America embraced the Detroit rapper.
"I think Eminem is going to get his due this year," said Norris. "I think that a lot of people felt like he should have won a couple of years ago with The Marshall Mathers LP."
That award went to Steely Dan.
Springsteen was nominated for album of the year in 1985 for Born in the U.S.A., but lost out to Lionel Richie's Can't Slow Down.
Unlike some previous years in which one artist clearly dominated the field, there are several top contenders this year -- many of them new acts.
There is the quadruple-platinum debut from Avril Lavigne, a Canadian teenage rocker who helped turn youth interest away from teen pop; the triple-platinum debut of R&B singer Ashanti; and the year's surprise sensation, Norah Jones, whose jazz-inspired Come Away With Me sold more than 2.7 million discs.
"Norah Jones could even creep into the album of the year," said Wilson.
Other possible album-of-the-year contenders include the Dixie Chicks' Home, and Alan Jackson's Drive, which had the Sept. 11-inspired song "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)."
Although rapper Nelly had the second best-selling disc of the year with Nellyville and two huge hits with "Hot in Herre" and "Dilemma," he was a longshot to be nominated for album of the year. But Wilson and Norris both said those hits could be rewarded with a record-of-the-year nod and nominations in rap categories.
Other possible contenders for record of the year included Pink's Get the Party Started; Lavigne's Complicated; Santana's The Game of Love with Michelle Branch; Jones' Don't Know Why; Eminem's Lose Yourself or Without Me; Nickelback's You Remind Me; and Vanessa Carlton's A Thousand Miles.
For best new artist, likely nominees were Jones, Lavigne and Ashanti. Other possible contenders were John Mayer, the White Stripes and Josh Groban, the classically inspired baritone whose self-tited debut disc sold 2.7 million copies.
"In general, I think he'll get a bunch of nominations," said Wilson.
The Grammy nominations were to be announced at Madison Square Garden, where the awards will be held Feb. 23. This year, there are 104 categories, up from 101 last year.