Slimmed-down Grammys still carrying extra weight

Adele-music-02When the Recording Academy announced last spring that it was reducing the number of Grammy Award categories by almost a third, the first thought that came to mind was “it’s about time,” followed rapidly by, “was it enough?”

This year’s 78 categories — down from 109 in 2010 — still represent a helluvalot of awards to sift through, and I don’t know of any other awards organization that comes close to that number, unless you count the Creative Arts Emmys, which don’t command the public attention the Grammys do.

It was the regional and ethnic music categories suffered the most, while the top-selling artists were left largely unscathed; kind of like the nation’s top one-percent earners still being granted the largest number of loopholes despite the country’s massive deficit.

And it’s those top-heavy categories that are the real head-scratchers (and don’t get me started about who SHOULD HAVE BEEN nominated). For example, you have Rock Performance and Rock Song: what’s the difference? OK, somebody wrote the song (or more often than not, a platoon). But if it wasn’t written, how could it be performed? These chicken-vs-the-egg distinctions basically make the Foo Fighters eligible for three different rock categories, NOT including Album of the Year, for which they were also nominated.

And what is Best Pop Vocal Album, versus Album of the Year, other than an opportunity to have multiple nominations for Adele, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and Rihanna? Does anybody really think that Adele would have gotten a single nomination for reasons other than her voice?

“Record of the Year” vs “Song of the Year” begs the same question: What’s the diff? (OK, one goes to producers and one goes to songwriters, but in the case of “Rolling in the Deep,” it’s the same people who benefit. At the very least we might suggest calling the song category “Best Pop Lyrics of the Year” or some such thing.)

Even the Recording Academy’s reduced jazz categories are open to scrutiny, even given my own sympathy for a genre whose album market share (roughly 3%) stands way out of proportion to its cultural significance. We now have four categories, with “best improvised jazz solo” as a separate entry. But isn’t all jazz, by definition, largely improvised? As a result you have Chick Corea, Sonny Rollins and Fred Hersch double-nominated for essentially the same work.

Sure, Grammy might be sporting a svelte figure compared to years past, but there’s quite a bit of fat that could be trimmed from those bones.


More Music

  • Hugh Jackman 39th Brit Awards, Show,

    Concert Review: Hugh Jackman Sparkles and Shines at the Hollywood Bowl

    Hugh Jackman is out to prove he truly is the greatest showman. On Friday and Saturday night, Jackman’s “The Man. The Music. The Show.” world tour stopped in Los Angeles for a sold-out two nights at the Hollywood Bowl. Ten years ago, Jackman hosted the 2009 Oscars just a few blocks south of the venue at [...]

  • Portrait of author and writer Paul

    Paul Krassner, Satirist, Yippies Co-Founder and Counter-Culture Figure, Dies at 87

    Satirist, publisher, author and American counter-culture figure Paul Krassner died at his home in Desert Hot Springs, California on July 21. He was 87. His daughter Holly Krassner Dawson, confirmed the news to the Associated Press. Born in New York City on April 9, 1932, Krassner eventually moved to Southern California where he lived with [...]

  • Cameron Crowe, David Crosby, A.J. Eaton.

    Cameron Crowe on Why He Loved Leaving David Crosby Doc on a CSNY Question Mark

    David Crosby may or may not have stuck a joint in Cameron Crowe’s mouth the first time he ever met the future filmmaker, when Crosby was peaking with Crosby Stills Nash & Young and his interviewer was a precocious 15-year-old Rolling Stone correspondent. As Crowe said to Jimmy Kimmel the other night, “I remember it [...]

  • Adam Lambert Queen

    Concert Review: Queen and Adam Lambert Capitalize on 'Bohemian Rhapsody'

    About half way through Queen and Adam Lambert’s Saturday night show at the Forum in Inglewood, guitarist Brian May took the stage solo to perform a few numbers. He began by acknowledging that day’s 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing, as the video screen behind him streamed a real-time replay of the Apollo [...]

  • R Kelly Sexual Assult Accusations Mugshot

    R. Kelly to Face Charges in New York on Aug. 2

    R. Kelly has been ordered brought to New York for his arraignment on racketeering charges that allege he recruited young girls for sexual abuse at concerts across the country, according to the Chicago Tribune. The charges are part of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against the singer that have been filed this year. Kelly, who [...]

  • Sturgill Simpson Announces New Anime Film,

    Sturgill Simpson Announces an Anime Film — and Album to Go With It — at Comic-Con

    From alt-country hero to anime producer, Grammy winner Sturgill Simpson is broadening his horizons. Appearing on a panel Saturday night at Comic-Con, Simpson announced an animated Netflix film, “Sound & Fury,” that he’s producing and wrote the original story for, to be accompanied by a simultaneously released album this fall he describes as “sleazy, steamy [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content