Grammys drop from 109 to 78 awards in massive overhaul

The Grammy Awards have gone on a crash diet, shedding 31 awards from their bloated ceremony. They have also expanded the required number of entries in each category which will dicate how many contenders are nominated and restricted the categories in which academy members can cast ballots. TV viewers will notice little difference as only a handful of prizes are handed out on the three-hour ceremony which is largely devoted to performances.

In making the announcement Tuesday, recording academy president/CEO Neil Portnow said, “After careful and extensive review and analysis of all categories and fields, it was objectively determined that our Grammy categories be restructured. The transformation of the entire awards structure [ensures] all fields are treated with parity.” The overhaul dates back two years under the auspices of board chair Jimmy Jam.

All of the sex-specific awards are being combined into unisex categories. No longer will there be Best Male and Female performance prizes in pop, country, and R&B. Among those categories being dropped are Best Contemporary R&B Album and Best Rap Duo/Group and Best Rock Instrumental and Best Rock Solo Vocal are blended into Best Rock Performance. The Latin field falls from seven to four awards while American Roots Music drops to five from nine. The official Grammy website offers a comparison of the old and new categories.

Each of the remaining 78 awards will now need at least 40 entries to produce a full roster of five nominees. If there are between 25 and 39 entries, there will be only three nominees. Under 25 means the award will be dropped; should that happen for three consecutive years, it will mean the permanent axing of that category with future submissions to be made into the closest remaining race.

Every category falls into a specific genre field. There were 30 of those at the most recent kudos. Four of those are now being renamed to reflect their absorption of various orphaned awards — Dance becomes Dance/Electronica, Gospel has been christened Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music, Musical Show is now Musical Theater and Film/ Television/Other Visual Media Field is renamed Music For Visual Media.

Voting has also been revamped. In the past, academy members could make nominations in nine of the 29 genre fields as well as the general one and then vote for winners in all categories of eight genres plus the general field. Going forward, they can nominate and voting on 20 categories across the genre fields plus the four top prizes in the general field — Best Album, Best Record, Best Song and Best New Artist.

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