NEW YORK (AP) _ In with the old, out with the new.

Upholding the tradition that you don't have to keep with the times to keep up with the Grammys, this year's nominations were lavished on mainstream artists, many of them past winners.

Among them: Sting, Whitney Houston, R.E.M., Billy Joel, songwriter Alan Menken and producer David Foster.

None of the candidates for best new artist - Belly, Blind Melon; Toni Braxton, Digable Planets and SWV (Sisters with Voices) - was nominated in the key categories of best album, song or record. In fact, no newcomers were nominated in those areas.

Sting, a 10-time Grammy winner, led with six nominations Thursday, including best album for ''Ten Summoner's Tales'' and song and record of the year for ''If I Ever Lose My Faith in You.''

Joel, Houston and R.E.M. were nominated four times each. Joel was cited for best album for ''River of Dreams,'' not to be confused with ''The River of Dreams,'' which is up for best song and best record.

Houston's nominations include best record for the ubiquitous ''I Will Always Love You,'' while R.E.M.'s ''Automatic for the People'' is in the running for best album.

Menken, a multiple Grammy and Academy Award winner, picked up five nominations. ''A Whole New World,'' the theme song from ''Aladdin'' he wrote with Tim Rice,'' is up for record and song of the year.

Foster, an eight-time Grammy winner, produced ''I Will Always Love You'' and also was nominated for best album for ''The Bodyguard'' soundtrack.

In one potential break with tradition, Neil Young, who has never won a Grammy, could be a good bet to pick up a couple of awards.

Nominated for best song and best record for ''Harvest Moon,'' the graying grunge icon might attract the same kind of sympathy votes that have gone to once-neglected rockers Eric Clapton and Bonnie Raitt.

The Grammys will be presented March 1 in a ceremony broadcast live on CBS.

Artists who didn't get nominated in the top categories include Janet Jackson, Nirvana, Soul Asylum Smashing Pumpkins and Spin Doctors, all of whom had to settle for nominations in lesser areas. Performers overlooked entirely included George Clinton, Matthew Sweet, Daniel Lanois.

Avoiding the cutting edge has long been the unofficial policy for members of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.

Among those who have never won a Grammy are Jimi Hendrix and Lou Reed. Among those who have are America, the Chipmunks and Sen. Everett M. Dirksen.

For some really interesting nominations in this year's field, check the fine print. Only in the best recording package category could you find Billie Holiday and Ozzy Osbourne in direct competition. And the nominees for the best spoken word album for children include Audrey Hepburn, Dr. John and the Muppets.

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