Here’s an interesting problem:

Jay Z’s “The Blueprint, Pt. 3″ is the hot album of the fall. The duet with Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind,” is the single of the season. Neither of them is eligible for the Grammy Awards.

Let’s backtrack: this year’s Grammy deadline was August 31st, a month early. The Jay Z album was not released until September 8th.

But we knew going in that the early Grammy deadline was crazy. Whitney Houston just made it under the wire. But Mariah Carey missed it, leaving her in the mix just for her “Obsessed” single.

At this rate, whatever gets nominated for Best Album, Record, and Song is a toss up, and not a popular one.

The odds on favorite would be The Black Eyed Peas album, “The E.N.D.” The single, “I Gotta Feeling,” is the odds on favorite for Best Record and Song.

There are scant others. Lady GaGa is headed into the Amy Winehouse section as novelty hit of the year. You can’t begrudge her anything, but she has the feel of a one-hit wonder.

There’s a lot of support for rock band Kings of Leon, too. But they may wind up in the rock categories.

Other possibilities: Kanye West’s “808s and Heartbreak,” U2’s “No Line on the Horizon,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Working on a Dream,” Rob Thomas’s excellent “CradleSong” (with the song “Someday”), and, of course, Whitney Houston’s “I Look to You.” Houston is likely to score well in the Grammys simply because it’s a slow year.

But the absence of Jay Z and Alicia? Immeasurable impact. Especially since the bogus American Music Awards ‘ in which everything is eligible including Michael Jackson’s greatest hits ‘ lets anything go as long as there are ratings and sponsors.

Meantime, I do hope the Grammy committees are aware that Stevie Wonder had a great single out in January, called “All About the Love Again.” It was included on the inauguration soundtrack. What a shame if it’s overlooked.

The Grammys have historically always been screwy anyway. Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” and Billy Joel’s “The Stranger” were never even nominated. How do you like that? The Beatles always got short shrift too. For example: In 1969-70, “Abbey Road” ‘ now considered one of the great classics of all time ‘ was beaten by Blood Sweat, and Tears’ self titled album. Other nominees were the Fifth Dimension, Johnny Cash, and Crosby, Stills & Nash’s debut LP. Even worse: in 1963, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, and Stan Getz all lost to Vaughn Meader’s comedy album, “The First Family.”

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