Grammys Announce Major Changes, Artists Are Not Happy

You know, anytime The Grammys come up, all I can think of is a scene from The Simpsons:

I really just tend to believe that the Grammys are highly confusing. Sometimes they seem to be about praising technical merit over popularity…and sometimes they seem to do just the opposite. Of course, awards like the Grammys will ALWAYS be highly subjective, but it seems like the Grammys are worse than, say, the Oscars or the Emmys.

So it should have been good news when it was announced that a study and overhaul of The Grammys was in the works, right? Finally, they will figure out how to reconnect with the public and decide if they are about what’s popular or about what’s musically strong (which is sometimes different from popularity and sometimes ISN’T).

And lo, they did announce: as of the 2012 Grammys they will be reducing the number of categories.

WAIT, what?

Yeah, in order to make the Grammys “better” they are reducing the number of categories and combining many categories together. The number of awards would be reduced from 109 to 78, with changes to the televised categories (combining men’s and women’s performance awards, for example) and, more hugely, to the often unrecognized categories.

Basically, the plan is for the Grammys to begin combining categories, stating that in the future they would be able to “ suspend or eliminate categories that receive fewer than 25 entries for three consecutive years, and to transfer submissions in that category into the ‘next most appropriate category.'” Which begs the question: how does one determine the “next most appropriate category?”

Many artists have spoken out about this, including Paul Simon and Carlos Santana, but perhaps the most vocal has been Bobby Sanabria, who has said the following:

“They are clearly sending a message –- a coded message –- that they do not want cultural diversity at the Grammys. If we are going to just look at one community, the African American communities were devastated. They took away Cajun music, traditional blues and contemporary blues, zydeco, contemporary gospel, contemporary R&B gospel [both gospel and American roots were both consolidated to five awards].”

He also had heated words for Grammy president Neil Portnow, who claimed it’s become “too easy to get a Grammy.”

“How much more competitive can it be? He told us that people have complained that it’s too easy to get a Grammy. You ask anybody that has a Grammy how hard it is to get one. I have four nominations and I’ve been a member for over 15 years, and just the nominations within itself is a supreme honor. It changes people’s careers. It changed mine.”

I have to say, I agree that eliminating categories is not the way to go. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I feel like the Grammys aren’t sure WHAT they are rewarding. Are they like the Emmys where sometimes the winner is a movie that all of two people saw? Or are they like the MTV Movie Awards where the most popular thing is a sure winner, despite how well it was actually executed (how many awards does the Twilight franchise have because of the MTV Movie Awards? How many does it probably deserve?)? The Grammys seem to have a major identity crisis, and it’s not going to be solved by hurting artists’ chances at being recognized for their hard work.

So, you know, maybe the Grammys should go back to the drawing board on this one.