Pop fans eager to have their own Grammy awards ceremony can compare and contrast the best of 2003 -- or at least, the most nominated -- with this 19-track collection. The combined licensing might of Universal, Sony, and Warner provided Grammy Recordings with plenty of the names necessary for a year-end roundup. Of course, this isn't the type of compilation that hangs together well; given the vagaries of the music business circa the early 2000s and the generalized awards covered here, the collection takes in Record of the Year finalists Vanessa Carlton ("A Thousand Miles"), Norah Jones ("Don't Know Why"), Nickelback ("How You Remind Me"), Dixie Chicks ("Landslide"), and Eminem ("Without Me"), all heard one after another. The nominees for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance reveal how meaningless the term "pop" has become; Jones, a postmodern cocktail singer, appears side-by-side with the rootsy Sheryl Crow, the clubbed-up Pink, and the painfully poppy Britney Spears. Meanwhile, the male side finds veterans Sting and James Taylor competing against a pair of newcomers (Craig David and John Mayer) who share little more than an earnest style of singing. Outside the television-advertised, dreadfully overpriced pop compilations, Grammy Nominees 2003 is a great way for anyone feeling lost amidst an unfamiliar music scene to decide for themselves exactly what's special about the year's biggest sellers -- from Nelly to Bowling for Soup, or Nickelback to Craig David.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush