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After decades of gender segregation, the Grammys have set up some battles of the sexes.
The Recording Academy on Wednesday announced some rules changes for next year and a major streamlining of its Grammy categories, from a bloated 109 to a more palatable 78. There will no longer be separate awards for best male and female vocal in the pop, country and R&B fields, with single trophies being doled out for “solo performance” in those genres.
In all, 52 awards were eliminated in the revamp, and 21 were created, including consolidations of existing categories. Many of the changes involve combining contemporary and traditional categories in certain genres — such as blues, folk and world music — under catch-all headings. The American Roots Music field was among the most affected, with the Grammys for best Hawaiian, Native American and zydeco/Cajun music being scrapped in favor of a single award for best regional roots music album.
Other consolidations of two categories into single Grammys include hard rock/metal, regional Mexican/Tejano, banda/Norteno and children’s album, which had awarded separate trophies for spoken word and musical.
Also gone next year are the pop and country collaboration Grammys, but the rap/sung pairing survived the cut. However, the best rap solo and duo or group performance categories have been merged into best rap performance.
Instrumentalists had a rough day Wednesday as the academy nixed the Grammys for best pop, rock and instrumental performances. The categories for best pop and jazz instrumental albums survived.
“Every year, we diligently examine our awards structure to develop an overall guiding vision and ensure that it remains a balanced and viable process,” Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said during a news conference at the group’s Santa Monica headquarters. “After careful and extensive review and analysis of all categories and fields, it was objectively determined that our Grammy categories be restructured to the continued competition and prestige of the highest and only peer-recognized award in music.”
A significant addition amid the category contraction is the inclusion of the popular genre of contemporary Christian music, which will be represented by best song and best album categories within the new Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Field. Another new Grammy will go to best gospel/contemporary Christian performance.
Three other fields also have been renamed: dance/electronica (formerly dance), music for visual media (formerly film, television and other visual media) and musical theater (ex-musical show).
Among the rule changes for next year’s 54th annual Grammy Awards:
* Each category must have at least 40 entries, up from 25. If there are 25-39 entries in a race, only three will be nominated. Fewer than 25 entries would mean no Grammy for that category would be handed out that year, and the entries would be lumped into the “next most logical category,” the academy said. If a category receives fewer that 25 entries for three consecutives years, it will be eliminated.
* Academy voters can make picks in as many as 20 genre fields, plus the General field (album, song and record of the year and best new artist). Voters had been limited to nine genre fields plus the General field on the first ballot and eight genre fields plus the General on the second.
Head here for a side-by-side comparison of the new Grammy list with last year’s.
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