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Sunday, February 22, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Who Wasn't Nominated, But Should Have Been

There were some surprises when the Grammy nominations were announced last month.

The most shocking was that Elton John's historic tribute to Princess Diana, "Candle In the Wind 1997," the biggest-selling single of all time (more than 60 million copies sold), was not nominated in any major category. The moving eulogy, first performed at Diana's funeral for a TV audience numbering in the billions, was nominated only for best male pop vocal performance. John competes for the award against Babyface, Maxwell, Seal and Duncan Sheik.

Paula Cole's seven nominations also raised some eyebrows. Her "This Fire" album wasn't a commercial or critical favorite, and Cole's work pales in comparison to other top female artists, such as Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Tracy Chapman, Jewel, LeAnn Rimes and Celine Dion. Grammy voters may have thought they were going with the flow - because female artists dominated the pop charts in 1997 - but they picked the wrong female artist to overindulge with nominations. Cole will probably turn out to be the big loser at this year's Grammys.

Puff Daddy was nominated seven times, which is impressive, but it's nevertheless surprising that he got fewer nominations than Babyface, who drew eight. (Babyface got the most noms for the second year in a row. Last year he was nominated 12 times, and won three.) Both are versatile talents who record on their own and work with others as songwriters and producers. But it clearly was Puff's year, and he was expected to get the most noms and be well represented in the top categories (he's in only one: best new artist).

Among the Puff songs that lost out were "Mo Money Mo Problems," by slain rapper the Notorious B.I.G.; and "I'll Be Missing You," the B.I.G. tribute by Puff and Faith Evans. Both were huge hits that rode high on the pop and R&B charts all year.

The five nominations for R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" (from the movie "Space Jam") also can be considered excessive, because it's an ordinary song built on cliches. But it was a big seller.

And what about "Tubthumping"? Although Chumbawamba's ubiquitious hit was released just at the cutoff point for this year's nominations, it made such a big noise in 1997, it deserved some Grammy recognition.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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