Usher leads American Music Award nominations, but repeat contenders dominate

Tuesday, September 14th 2004, 1:53 pm
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ R&B casanova Usher, whose album ``Confessions'' steamed up the charts with songs about sex, affairs and breakups, received a leading four nominations Tuesday for the American Music Awards.

Many categories included last year's winners _ Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and Linkin Park _ and previous nominees Beyonce, Avril Lavigne, Norah Jones and R. Kelly.

Meanwhile, rapper-producer Kanye West, whose album ``The College Dropout'' combines gospel, rap and braggadocio, had three nominations, the second most after Usher.

Usher was nominated as favorite male artist in both the pop/rock and soul/R&B categories, and his ``Confessions'' also has best album bids in both groups.

In the hip-hop/rap class, West was up for favorite male artist, ``The College Dropout'' got a mention for best album, and his third bid came for the cross-genre award as best newcomer.

Two categories feature all of the same nominees as last year. The country male artist group again includes Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw (who won in 2003). It also was deja vu for contemporary inspirational music, as 2003 winner Steven Curtis Chapman competes once more against MercyMe and Third Day.

Meanwhile, OutKast _ the big winner at February's Grammys _ was nominated for best rap/hip-hop group, and its Grammy-winning ``Speakerboxxx/The Love Below'' got a bid for best rap album.

The awards will be presented during a Nov. 14 ceremony that will be shown live on ABC. Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel will host it.

The nominations are based on sales figures and radio play. Winners are selected by a survey of about 20,000 listeners.