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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rapper Lil Wayne, whose new album was the biggest seller of the year, led the field of Grammy contenders, while rock bands Coldplay and Radiohead led a British invasion of the music industry's top honors.
Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter, scored eight nominations, while Coldplay followed with seven, organizers said on Wednesday. Three acts were each nominated for six -- rappers Kanye West and Jay-Z, and R&B singer Ne-Yo.
Lil Wayne, Coldplay, Ne-Yo and Radiohead will compete for the coveted album of the year Grammy. The fifth spot went to a an acclaimed transatlantic collaboration between former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant and bluegrass queen Alison Krauss.
Other British acts with high-profile mentions included two female singers, Duffy and Adele, nominated for best new artist, a prize that once went to the Beatles.
In the record of the year race, Adele and Coldplay were joined by compatriots Leona Lewis and M.I.A., as well as Plant & Krauss. Adele and Coldplay were also nominated for song of the year -- a songwriter's award.
"They're doing great work," said producer Jimmy Jam, a top Grammy official.
He suggested this year's crop of British newcomers benefited from a "trickle down" from the likes of trouble-prone London neo-soul singer Amy Winehouse, who won the record, song and best new artist Grammys this year.
Radiohead, who already have two Grammy wins, received five nominations this time, as did Plant & Krauss. Adele received four nominations. Nominations in all 110 categories will be unveiled during two ceremonies in Los Angeles on February 8.
Lil Wayne's album "Tha Carter III" sold 1 million copies in the United States during its first week, the best opening tally of the year. His seven other nominations were in the rap field, including rap album and rap song, and he will compete against himself in two races.
Coldplay's nominations stem from its album "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends," which topped the charts around the world this summer. The band has won four Grammys, including record of the year in 2004 for "Clocks."
Radiohead got the nod for "In Rainbows," another chart-topper originally sold on the Internet last year priced at whatever consumers wanted to pay.
Plant & Krauss were nominated for "Raising Sand" and Ne-Yo for "Year of the Gentleman." Plant & Krauss won a Grammy last year with a song from "Raising Sand" but the album itself was not released in time for the Grammy deadline.
Krauss' career Grammy haul stands at 21 statuettes, making her the seventh-biggest winner ever. If the 37-year-old musician sweeps the Grammys, she will tie for third with French composer Pierre Boulez. Only late conductor Georg Solti (31) and producer Quincy Jones (27) have more statuettes. Plant's career haul stands at a more-modest two.
Spin magazine editor Doug Brod said the album of the year nominations were a pleasant shock.
"Five albums that people have actually heard, bought -- well, sort of -- and liked," he said.
Grammy nominees and winners are determined by music-industry insiders, who are supposed to take into account creative rather than commercial attributes.
In recent years, the Grammys have mirrored record-buyers' tastes. But there is still room for surprises, such as last year when jazz veteran Herbie Hancock won album of the year with a little-known release.
Other artists with five nominations included rock guitarist John Mayer and best new artist contender Jazmine Sullivan, a 21-year-old R&B singer. The other best new artist contenders were teen heartthrobs the Jonas Brothers and country group Lady Antebellum.
For the first time, nominations in key categories were read out during a one-hour concert special broadcast in the United States on CBS. Traditionally, contenders have been named at an early morning news conference.
The new strategy is part of a bid to boost awareness of the Grammys, even as the record business endures a decade-long tailspin. This year's Grammys ceremony averaged just 17.1 million viewers, the third-smallest tally since the event first aired for a national audience in 1971.
Editing by John O'Callaghan and Todd Eastham