Following the lead of the Academy Awards, the Latin Grammys have now decided to expand the field for album of the year from five to 10 contenders. The Latin Grammys come under the same umbrella as the Grammys: the National Academy of Recording Artists and Sciences (NARAS), though the two have separate boards of trustees. Should the Grammys follow suit?
The Latin Grammys will also expand the nominees to 10 in the other three general categories: song, record and best new artist.
While a representative of the Recording Academy told the Los Angeles Times that the move does not mean the Grammy Awards will do the same, you can bet that the idea is being floated around.
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The Academy Awards made the move a few years ago, in part, to increase viewership since more people would feel invested if their favorite movie was part of the top 10 and be encouraged to watch. There’s no reason to think the Grammys wouldn’t want to do the same, especially while they are on a roll: this year’s show received some of the best ratings in decades.
Plus, the expansion to 10 nominees in the four general fields could help make up for the heat the Recording Academy got after it cut the number of categories from 109 to 78 this year. The consolidation did not mean that any recording previously eligible was no longer allowed, but it did mean that many genres and sub-genres that previously had their own fields were now competing in much more crowded categories.
The Recording Academy didn’t elaborate on why the changes were made or how they would be facilitated, but would it be good for the Grammys to make the same move? The Academy’s chairman/president Neil Portnow did tell the Los Angeles Times in a previous interview that he expected their will be some more changes coming out of meetings to be held late this month, but didn’t expound.
Here’s a look at how I see it for each of the four general fields:
Album of the Year: Since anyone in the world can put out an album now—there are something like 70,000 released every year —so why not up this category to 10? The only folks who will suffer are the pundits like me who write the annual “Who got snubbed?” stories, but those will be replaced with the “Can you believe THAT got nominated?” Plus, opening it up to 10 would hopefully expand not just the numbers, but broaden the genres nominated.
Best New Artist: This one should stay at five. Are there really 10 artists emerging every year that deserve recognition? All that will happen is we’ll see more and more artists who are already well on their way getting nominated at the end of their eligibility period: To be eligible, an artist has to have released an album, but must not have released more than three albums. Plus, the year of nomination should be the year the artist “breaks through,” whatever that means. That’s why you see an act like Silversun Pickups nominated after “Swoon,” its third release, in 2010. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but expect more if the category expands. The Grammys definitely need to amend this rule to where the artist does not need to have released an album: that criteria kept both Bruno Mars and Nicki Minaj from being eligible, despite the fact that both had experienced significant breakthroughs.
Best Record and Best Song: This award for record of the year goes to the artist and producer; the award for song of the year goes to the songwriter. The cutbacks in categories and because of the way the Grammys already worked, there were a number of genres that did not have song categories, only categories for album, so song and record of the year have already become a repository for all of those. For example, there’s no best song category for jazz, new age, Latin, American roots (which now encompasses Americana, blues, and folk), reggae, etc... you get the idea. I don’t know if expanding to 10 would give any of these songs a better chance, but there seems to be no harm.
Do you think the categories should be expanded? Does it dilute the honor and prestige in any way?