The Grammy Awards are music’s biggest night, but lately they’ve interested me less and less. Of course, everyone’s favorite hobby is bashing the nominations (and winners), but the ceremony has seemed to evolve (devolve?) from an ultra-conservative nightmare (check out the winners from any Grammy category up until maybe the early Nineties for proof…are you aware that neither James Brown nor David Bowie has ever won a Grammy Award? And that The Rolling Stones only have two?) to a back-slapping snooze-fest for the baby-boom generation (the Paul Simon and Steve Winwood clean-ups of the late-Eighties) to a show that simply looks at the Billboard charts and nominates who’s on top of it, regardless of talent. Then for the major awards they throw in one old fogey and the old fogey inevitably wins (see: Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, Steely Dan, and last year’s Plant and Krauss project).

This year is relatively old-fogey free, but the nominees are very pop-centric and were basically just snatched from the top of the Billboard charts. Beyonce leads the pack with 10 nominations, followed by Taylor Swift with 8. Other big nominees include the Black Eyed Peas, Lady GaGa, Jay-Z, and Kings of Leon. The frightening thing is that the three major categories basically contain the same group of artists: Beyonce, GaGa and Swift are all up for Record, Song and Album of the Year. BEP are up for Record and Album but got snubbed for Song, while Kings of Leon are up for Record and Song, but got left out of the Album category because “Only By the Night” came out before the eligibility period. The only folks who were able to sneak through that group were Dave Matthews Band (and it’s not hard to imagine that sympathy for deceased sax player LeRoi Moore is what snagged them their first Album of the Year nomination) and Maxwell, who is (actually deservedly) up for Song of the Year.

Here’s the thing, though. I LIKE Beyonce, Swift and GaGa, and still feel their nominations are somewhat undeserved. Well, let me temper that. “Poker Face” is so damn catchy it probably SHOULD be nominated for Record of the Year. However, I would say their nominations are more based on “wow-these records sold millions and millions of copies” than “wow-these records are really good). Because as shitty as this past year has been for music, I can name a ton of albums that were better than Beyonce’s, and the less said about The Black Eyed Peas, the better. At least they’ve finally been removed from the hip-hop category and placed in pop where they belong.

The Best New Artist category is the weakest in recent memory. This is essentially a two-act race, with Zac Brown Band being the people’s choice and Keri Hilson being the industry favorite (although Lord only knows why). The other nominees (MGMT, Silversun Pickups and The Ting Tings-who probably should have been nominated LAST year) are all fairly under the radar.

Notable omissions? You’d think after all the strings that were pulled putting Whitney Houston’s “I Look to You” out before the nominations deadline would help it get a nomination? No dice. Houston got a big fat zero, although the album was certainly good enough to deserve some love. Meanwhile, Grammy favorite Kanye West got the most low-key six nominations any artist has ever gotten. His “808s and Heartbreak” album was shut out of the major categories, and five of his six nominations are all in TWO categories-Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (where he’s nominated for Beyonce’s “Ego” remix, Keri Hilson’s “Knock You Down” and Jay-Z’s “Run This Town”) and Best Rap Performance by a duo or group (where his own “Amazing” with Young Jeezy is up against “Make Her Say” alongside Common and Kid Cudi).

Anyhow, here are the nominees in the major categories. The Grammy Awards airs on 1/31/2010 on CBS.

Record of the Year:
“Halo” Beyonce
“I Gotta Feeling” Black Eyed Peas
“You Belong with Me” Taylor Swift
“Poker Face” Lady GaGa
“Use Somebody” Kings of Leon

Album of the Year:
“I Am..Sasha Fierce” Beyonce
“The E.N.D” Black Eyed Peas
“Fearless” Taylor Swift
“The Fame” Lady GaGa
“Big Whiskey & the GrooGrux King” Dave Matthews Band

Song of the Year:
“Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” Beyonce
“Pretty Wings” Maxwell
“You Belong with Me” Taylor Swift
“Poker Face” Lady GaGa
“Use Somebody” Kings of Leon

Best New Artist:
Zac Brown Band
Keri Hilson
Silversun Pickups
The Ting Tings

Best Pop Album:
“The E.N.D.” The Black Eyed Peas
“Breakthrough” Colbie Caillat
“All I Ever Wanted” Kelly Clarkson
“Funhouse” Pink
“The Fray” The Fray

Best R&B Album:
“The Point of it All” Anthony Hamilton
“Turn Me Loose” Ledisi
“BLACKsummersnight” Maxwell
“Testimony Vol. 2: Love & Politics” india.arie
“Uncle Charlie” Charlie Wilson

Best Rock Album:
“Black Ice” AC/DC
“Live at Madison Square Garden” Steve Winwood & Eric Clapton
“Big Whiskey & the GrooGrux King” Dave Matthews Band
“No Line on the Horizon” U2
“21st Century Breakdown” Green Day

Best Rap Album:
“Universal Mind Control” Common
“Relapse” Eminem
“The Ecstatic” Mos Def
“The Renaissance” Q-Tip
“R.O.O.T.S.” Flo-Rida

Best Alternative Music Album:
“Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” Phoenix
“Everything That Happens Will Happen Today” David Byrne & Brian Eno
“It’s Blitz” The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
“The Open Door” Death Cab for Cutie
“Sounds of the Universe” Depeche Mode