The Recording Academy has changed the list of categories for the Grammy Awards yet again. However, one of the three new fields – Best Urban Contemporary Album – is actually a previously discontinued honor with a new name.
Prior to 2012, the Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album was presented to R&B artists who incorporated Hip-Hop and other Urban-styled productions into their music, thus distinguishing them from their more traditional peers. However, that honor was discontinued in 2012 and all R&B contenders had to compete for the same title of Best R&B Album.
That change caused several problems as acts such as Chris Brown, who won the gold at the 2012 Grammy show with his ‘F.A.M.E.’ LP, were now unfairly competing against grossly dissimilar performers including Ledisi and Kelly Price. Thankfully, though, the Recording Academy has brought back the Best Contemporary R&B Album field under the title of Best Urban Contemporary Album.
Read excerpts from the Recording Academy statement about the recent Grammy changes, which take effect at the 2013 show, below:
The Recording Academy’s recently held spring Board of Trustees meeting in Los Angeles yielded GRAMMY Awards category changes in the Classical, Jazz, Latin, and R&B Fields, including the addition of Best Classical Compendium, Best Latin Jazz Album, and Best Urban Contemporary Album as categories. The total number of categories to be recognized at the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards on Feb. 10, 2013, will be 81.
“With the focus squarely on ensuring the Awards process is pertinent within the current musical landscape, the Board of Trustees continues to demonstrate its passionate commitment to keeping The Recording Academy a relevant and responsive organization in our dynamic music community,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. “Every year, we diligently examine our Awards structure, including evaluating proposals, to develop an overall guiding vision and ensure that it remains a balanced and viable process, as well as maintains the prestige of the highest and only peer-recognized award in music.”
Best Urban Contemporary Album is for albums containing at least 51 percent playing time of newly recorded contemporary vocal tracks derivative of R&B. This category is intended for artists whose music includes the more contemporary elements of R&B and may incorporate production elements found in urban pop, urban Euro-pop, urban rock, and urban alternative.
Also, mastering engineers will now be considered nominees and award recipients in the Record Of The Year category.
The eligibility year for the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards is Oct. 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2012. The submissions process for the 55th GRAMMY Awards begins July 2, 2012, and will be followed by various Academy Screening Committee meetings later this year. Nominations for the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be announced as part of The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown To Music’s Biggest Night, a one-hour special that sets the stage for the annual GRAMMY Awards telecast with nominations announced in several categories and performances by past GRAMMY winners and/or nominees. This year’s nominations special will be broadcast live on CBS on Dec. 5.
Read more on Grammy.
These changes are exactly what we needed to help improve the Grammy show. Brown’s ‘F.A.M.E.’ album is a solid body of work but it was unfairly matched against the material of Ledisi, Price and El DeBarge, whose records didn’t include similar Dance/Pop and Hip-Hop elements.
Now all we need are clearer rules regarding the nomination process for the other R&B fields. The last thing we need is another Pop song similar to Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’ wrongfully sweeping those categories.