It was another big year creatively for women in music, according to the nominations for the 38th Grammy Awards announced Thursday. But that doesn't mean the nominations were business as usual.
The top nominees in recent years have included such soothing, pop-oriented artists as Whitney Houston and Natale Cole, but many of the female nominees in the major categories this time have a more biting edge to their music, perhaps reflecting a change in the voting process.
Newcomers Alanis Morissette, a Canadian singer-songwriter with a raw pop-rock style, and Joan Osborne, a blues-tinged pop singer from Kentucky, are competing for album of the year and best new artist. Together, they account for 11 nominations.
And the Atlanta-based hip-hop group TLC, also a first-time nominee, is up for four awards, including record of the year for its hit "Waterfalls."
"I think we have moved away from a popular vote, in some cases, toward a vote that is much more consistent with recognizing excellence," says Michael Greene, president and CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. "And it really wasn't at the expense of the more established artists."
One of those more established artists, two-time Grammy winner Mariah Carey, joined Morissette with the most nominations--six. Glen Ballard, who produced and co-wrote with Morissette the songs on Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" album, is nominated for five, as are Osborne and pop-R&B; marvel Babyface.
Michael Jackson, country singer Shania Twain and French conductor Pierre Boulez are also up for four awards.
Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" is joined in the best album competition by Osborne's "Relish," Carey's "Daydream," Pearl Jam's "Vitalogy" and Michael Jackson's "HIStory: Past, Present and Future Book 1."
In addition to "Waterfalls," the single record of the year competition includes Osborne's "One of Us," Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise," Seal's "Kiss From a Rose" and Carey's "One Sweet Day," a duet with Boyz II Men.
"You Oughta Know," written by Morissette and Ballard, was not released as a single, making it ineligible for the best record competition. It was, however, nominated for song of the year. Also nominated: Eric Bazilian's "One of Us," a hit for Osborne; R. Kelly's "You Are Not Alone," a hit for Michael Jackson; "I Can Love You Like That," a collaboration by Maribeth Derry, Steve Diamond and Jennifer Kimball that was a hit for All-4-One, and Seal's "Kiss From a Rose."
Joining Morissette and Osborne as best new artist nominees are country singer Shania Twain, R&B; singer Brandy and rock band Hootie & the Blowfish.
The awards, determined by the 7,500-member academy, will be presented Feb. 28 at the Shrine Auditorium in ceremonies televised on CBS. The eligibility period in 88 categories is from Oct. 1, 1994, to Sept. 30, 1995.
Nominees in each of the top four categories made it through a special screening process that was started this year by Greene in response to perennial complaints that the Grammys were out of touch with the most vital currents in contemporary music.
The 20 entries that received the most votes from the general membership in the album, record, song and new artist categories--the only categories in which all of the voting members participate--were submitted to a 25-member panel, which made the final determinations.
"For the first time, we had 25 very knowledgeable musical generalists who sat down in the same room at the same time and, with the same criteria, listened to all the recordings," Greene said. "I think everybody's very happy."