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2019 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album

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  • Jeffrey Kare
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    The Recording Academy is making changes to Grammy Awards guidelines for musical theater in the hopes of revitalizing one of its leanest categories.

    For the first time, the Academy has added a screening committee to the musical theater category to help decide which submitted artists and recordings will be eligible for Best Musical Theater Album. It has also updated language to clarify the broad spectrum of eligible nominees and albums.

    The category typically receives about 40 entries a year, the minimum threshold necessary to receive the standard five nominations. If a category receives 40 or more entries, it will get five nominations; if it receives between 26 and 39, it will get three.

    To help boost the numbers, new language this year explains an existing rule: the category is not just limited to Broadway musicals, but rather can apply to regional theater productions as well as musical theater pieces that have never made it to stage, including solo musical theater albums and concept albums.

    Additionally, the guidelines now clearly state that potential Grammy recipients can include members of the ensemble, rather than just principal vocalists, that made significant contributions to the recording.

    To determine the eligibility of submitted albums and vocalists, the Recording Academy has established a screening committee specifically for musical theater. The committee, made up of a panel of musical theater experts, will meet for the first time in September to sort through the submissions before nominations.

    The eligibility period for the 2019 Grammy Awards runs from Oct. 1, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018. The last deadline to submit a recording for the Awards is from Aug. 8 through Aug. 22. The first round of voting begins in October 2018.

    These changes, as well as the new guideline reaffirming that only the recording, not the show’s physical production elements, are to be considered for the Grammy Awards, came out of task force of theater professionals created by the Academy to make recommendations.

    The task force has also been working to ramp up the number of Grammy voters who will be able to vote in the musical theater category. Anyone who has performed on, written, engineered or produced a musical theater album is eligible to apply to be a voting member of the Academy.

    Here is a list of all the eligible candidates for this year’s race (for now).

    The Band’s Visit
    The Beast in the Jungle
    Carousel
    Desperate Measures
    Escape to Margaritaville
    Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
    Frozen
    Hundred Days
    Mean Girls
    My Fair Lady
    Once on This Island
    Pretty Woman
    Prince of Broadway
    Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

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    Alex Meyer
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    The Band’s Visit, My Fair Lady and Once On This Island are probably solid locks at this point. The Grammys have also had their love of jukebox musicals, so I could see Summer: The Donna Summer Musical getting in, but I don’t think Escape To Margaritaville will get itself in. Maybe Mean Girls‘ popularity as a whole could help it get nominated, though I wonder if Academy members will have reservations about the score like the critics did. The Grammys loved Frozen’s movie soundtrack, but whether they’ll embrace the expanded score remains to be seen. Carousel could also be a potential nominee, due to its iconic score as a whole and the fact that Jonathan Tunick orchestrated it.

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    Jeffrey Kare
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    I think Escape to Margaritaville could be more on shaky grounds. The album is filled with songs by Jimmy Buffett, who is a previous nominee from 2005, though hasn’t really been a regular at the Grammys.

    As for Frozen, pretty much every Broadway musical Disney has produced to date (with the exceptions of Tarzan and Mary Poppins) has at least been nominated with The Lion King and Aida winning.

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    Alex Meyer
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    Maybe we could see an Off-Broadway cast recording like Desperate Measures get nominated.

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    Alex Meyer
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    Presuming there are 5 nominees this time instead of 3, my predictions at this point are:

    The Band’s Visit
    Carousel
    Desperate Measures
    My Fair Lady
    Once On This Island

    Out of these, I think The Band’s Visit will ultimately win, given its universal acclaim and the Grammys tendency to almost always go with the Tony winner for Best Musical or Best Revival Of A Musical.

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    Jeffrey Kare
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    The original cast recording of SpongeBob SquarePants was released in September of last year, so it won’t even be eligible this year.

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    Alex Meyer
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    I didn’t even know that. Thanks for letting me know. I guess I’ll switch it out with Carousel. Maybe the praise for Jonathan Tunick’s orchestrations will help it land a nomination.

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    Oscar Rodrigues
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    What exactly do they mean by Concept Albums? Is any concept album eligible, or are there certain criterias for a concept album to end up here?

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