Knowles garned four nods as a member of the group, and a separate nomination for her song, “Say My Name.”

One closely-watched artist, Detroit rapper Eminem, earned four Grammy nominations including album of the year. But his hit “The Real Slim Shady” was bypassed in the record and song of the year categories by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences when the bids were announced January 3.

Whether it’s a sign that boatloads of hype don’t necessarily translate into award consideration or that NARAS is hopelessly married to a tradition of favoring less challenging – and in this case, safer – work is a matter of interpretation.

“I do think it’s a major snub,” said Tom O’Neil, author of the book The Grammys and a historian of the awards.

Critics have accused Eminem of promoting homophobia and abuse of women, among other things. But music critics have praised his clever rhymes and artistry if not his message.

A look at the other nominations in major categories would seem to bear out Grammy’s preference for playing it safe, with multiple nods going to old warhorses like Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Madonna and U2 as well as some top newcomers.

Nominated for record of the year were pop acts Destiny’s Child for “Say My Name” and ‘N Sync for “Bye Bye Bye.” Macy Gray received a bid for “I Try.” The rest went to the old guard, with Madonna for “Music” and U2 for “Beautiful Day.”

Competing with Eminem for album of the year are Beck for Midnite Vultures, Radiohead for Kid A, Simon for You’re the One and Steely Dan for Two Against Nature.

Song of the year nominations went to the writers of U2’s “Beautiful Day,” Faith Hill‘s “Breathe,” Lee Ann Womack‘s “I Hope You Dance,” Gray’s “I Try” and Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name.”

Nominees for best new artist are Shelby Lynne, Brad Paisley, Papa Roach, Jill Scott and Sisqo.

Besides its song of the year nomination, Hill’s “Breathe” also earned a country song of the year bid for writers Stephanie Bentley and Holly Lamar. Hill’s album of the same name garnered the country diva nominations for vocal performance, country album and country collaboration with vocals for her duet with husband Tim McGraw.

Steely Dan – which saw its commercial heyday almost 30 years ago – was also a runner-up in the most-nominated race with three, including pop performance by a group and pop vocal album for Two Against Nature. Gray also received three nods for “I Try,” including female pop vocalist.

The 43rd annual Grammy Awards will be broadcast live by CBS February 21 from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Awards will be presented in 100 categories.

Two new categories introduced this year are best Native American music album and best pop instrumental album.