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Grammy Nominations Announced With Rapper Kendrick Lamar Leading the Pack

Kendrick Lamar is the king of the Grammys: The rapper is the leading nominee for the 2016 awards with 11, including album of the year for "To Pimp a Butterfly" and song of the year for "Alright."

Lamar, who won two Grammys earlier this year, is followed by Taylor Swift and The Weeknd, who each earned seven nominations, including album of the year. "Butterfly," Swift's "1989" and The Weeknd's "Beauty Behind the Madness" will battle country singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton's "Traveller" and rock group Alabama Shakes' "Sound & Color" for the top prize.

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"Alright" and Swift's "Blank Space" are nominated for song of the year, a songwriter's award. Other nominees include Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth's tribute to actor Paul Walker, "See You Again," Ed Sheeran's slow burner "Thinking out Loud" and Little Big Town's semi-controversial hit, "Girl Crush," written by Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey and Liz Rose.

"Thinking out Loud" and "Blank Space," which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, are also nominated for record of the year, pitting the songs against No.1 hits that include Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk" and the Weeknd's "Can't Feel My Face," as well as a wild card: "Really Love" from R&B singer D'Angelo and the Vanguard.

"There's a broad spectrum and certainly it shows there's been quite a bit of wonderful and excellent recordings in the last year," Recording Academy CEO Neil Portow said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Lamar's other nominations include best rap album for "Butterfly," rap performance for "Alright," pop duo/group performance for "Bad Blood" with Swift and dance recording "Never Catch Me" with Flying Lotus. He's nominated twice for both best rap song with "Alright" and for co-writing Kanye West's "All Day," as well as best music video for "Alright" and "Bad Blood."

"It's a testimony to his artistry," Portnow said of Lamar. "He's someone that's very serious about his art and about his craft, and has been working it for quite some time. And this is one of those instances where the work pays off."

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Justin Bieber — who marked a comeback this year with the hits "Sorry" and "What Do You Mean" — is nominated for best dance recording for his other hit, "Where Are U Now" with Skrillex and Diplo. Both Bieber and Adele's new albums will qualify for Grammy nominations next year since they were released after Sept. 30 — the final day for eligibility this year.

More than 21,000 submissions were entered for the 83 Grammy categories, with the first round of votes due by Nov. 4.

The 58th Grammys will air live on February 15, 2016, from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Voting for the second round, completed by mail and starting next week, ends on January 15, 2016.