Jackson scores 5 American Music Award nominations
By Dean Goodman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michael Jackson picked up five American Music Awards on Tuesday, almost four months after his sudden death turned him into the biggest-selling artist of the year, organizers said on Tuesday.
The pop star, who died of a drug overdose in June at the age of 50, was eclipsed only by 19-year-old country star Taylor Swift, who scored six nominations.
Both will compete for artist of the year at the November 22 ceremony in Los Angeles, along with pop star Lady Gaga, rapper Eminem and rock band Kings of Leon.
Nominees are determined by radio airplay and retail sales, while members of the public determine the winners through online voting.
Jackson has sold 5.7 million albums in the United States so far this year, according to tracking firm Nielsen SoundScan. His 2003 hits package "Number Ones" is the best-selling release of the year with 1.9 million copies. Swift's 2008 release "Fearless" follows with 1.8 million. It was the No. 3 album last year with 2.1 million copies.
Jackson was also nominated for favorite male artist and favorite album ("Number Ones") in both the pop/rock and soul/R&B categories. He won 22 American Music Awards in his lifetime, most recently an honorary "artist of the century" prize in 2002.
Swift was nominated for favorite female artist in both the pop/rock and country categories. "Fearless" will also compete for favorite album in both categories. She was also cited for favorite adult-contemporary artist.
Eminem will compete against Jackson for favorite male artist in the pop/rock category. He was also cited in the rap/hip-hop categories for both favorite male artist and favorite album ("Relapse"). His album is the No. 4 release of 2008 with 1.5 million copies.
Lady Gaga and Kings of Leon each picked up three nominations, as did R&B star Beyonce and jailed rapper T.I., who was sentenced in March to a year in prison on federal weapons charges.
The ceremony at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles will be broadcast in the United States by ABC. The first batch of confirmed performers includes Alicia Keys, the Black Eyed Peas, Jennifer Lopez and "American Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert.
Online voting is at http://www.ama.abc.com and http://www.amavote.com.
This marks the third year that online voting has been available. Winners used to be decided by a poll of 20,000 music buyers, but producers decided to make the event more inclusive in the wake of slumping ratings. The move seems to have worked, with last year's show attracting 12.2 million viewers, up from a low of 10.9 million in 2006.
(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Eric Walsh)