LOS ANGELES - Lil Wayne - one of the most prolific, ubiquitous and successful performers in music today - was the most rewarded yesterday by the Recording Academy, receiving eight Grammy nominations, including album of the year for

Tha Carter III.

Close behind was Coldplay, whose

Viva La Vida

, one of the year's best-selling CDs, joined the album-of-the-year field with Radiohead's groundbreaking

In Rainbows

; singer-songwriter Ne-Yo's

Year of the Gentleman

; and Robert Plant's collaboration with Alison Krauss,

Raising Sand.

The nominations were announced in a new format: with a live prime-time CBS concert special that featured LL Cool J and Taylor Swift as hosts.

Coldplay and Plant & Krauss were also nominated in the coveted record-of-the-year category, Coldplay for the song "Viva La Vida" and the duo for "Please Read the Letter." Other record-of-the-year nominees were British singer Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love," British newcomer Adele's "Chasing Pavements," and M.I.A.'s breakthrough hit, "Paper Planes."

Some surprising omissions: Katy Perry, who had one of the year's biggest hits with "I Kissed a Girl," was shut out of the top categories, including record of the year and best new artist.

Shut out was Swift, last year's best new artist nominee. The Wyomissing, Pa., native has had a sensational year thanks to the continued success of her 2006 self-titled debut album and her latest top-selling CD,

Fearless.

While neither were eligible for consideration, her recent singles were.

While

Tha Carter III

was not regarded as Lil Wayne's greatest CD, it made the highly regarded veteran a pop superstar, thanks to massive hits such as "Lollipop" and "A Milli." The CD was the only record this year to sell one million copies in its first week.

Coldplay's

Viva La Vida

was its first album in three years, and was also a huge hit.

Radiohead's

In Rainbows

didn't break sales records, but was as revolutionary as it was critically acclaimed. It was first released last fall in a pay-as-you-wish format on the band's Web site. It was an instant viral sensation and shook up the beleaguered recording industry, which is struggling with its traditional business model. Radiohead later released the album in stores via a record label.

Plant linked up with bluegrass artist Krauss, a Grammy darling, for a CD that pushed both in different musical directions, while Ne-Yo, who has produced several smashes for other artists, had success with

Year of the Gentleman.

Also nominated were the Jonas Brothers, in the best-new-artist category. While they have already released two CDs, their latest,

A Little Bit Longer,

was their biggest yet in their breakthrough year. The teen sensations join Duffy and Adele, both British singers with a soul bent; singer-songwriter Jazmine Sullivan; and breakout country act Lady Antebellum.

Sullivan, who grew up in Strawberry Mansion, has drawn comparisons to Lauryn Hill with her hit "I Need You Bad." She had a breakthrough night, with five nominations. Other multiple nominees included Jay-Z, Ne-Yo and Kanye West, who had six each; Krauss, who has numerous Grammy wins, got five nominations. Another Grammy favorite, John Mayer, netted five as well.

The Recording Academy typically has announced nominations like most top awards shows, during a morning news conference. But in an era when awards shows are as common as reality shows, even the top-tier events are finding it hard to stand out.

So the academy put on the prime-time event, which opened with past Grammy winner Mariah Carey, decked out in a short red minidress to give some holiday cheer, singing a song from her classic Christmas album.

Held at the Nokia Theatre, the show also celebrated the Saturday opening of the new Grammy Museum next door.

The Grammy Awards are scheduled for live broadcast Feb. 8 on CBS. Last year's show drew 17.2 million viewers, making it one of the least-watched Grammys and continuing the trend of shrinking awards-show audiences.

See a full list of the Grammy nominees via

http://go.philly. com/grammys2009