It probably won’t erase their reputation of being woefully behind the times, but the Recording Academy made several changes to the rules around Grammy nominations this week. The most important move was in regards to sampling; in the past, artfully lifted loops were only allowed in the Best Rap Song category. They will now be recognized in all songwriting categories because of the way samples often “reach across genre lines.”
You don’t say? As Billboard points out, this means a massive track like “Empire State of Mind” will now have a chance at nabbing Song of the Year, an area that’s mostly dominated by pop music. For example, this year’s award went to Lorde’s “Royals” single, which was up against Pink, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. We still don’t know the difference between Song of the Year and Record of the Year, but hey, at least the Academy is finally recognizing an influential, valid form of expression that’s been around since the ’80s.
Other less important revisions to the Grammy process include a new category for Best American Roots Performance, changing Best Pop Instrumental Album to Best Contemporary Instrumental Album, and moving Best Traditional Pop Album into the Pop Field. The Alternative Music Field has also been redefined as “intended for recordings that take as a starting point any existing musical genre or combination of genres, and expand and redefine the boundaries of those genres. Though there may be considerable overlap with the Alternative radio format, this category is not intended to mirror it.” (We don’t understand what any of this lawyer speak means either.)
“The Academy’s Board of Trustees continues to demonstrate its passionate commitment to keeping The Recording Academy a relevant and responsive organization in our dynamic music community,” Neil Portnow, the President/CEO of The Recording Academy, said in a statement. “This year’s changes to our awards process are thoughtful, inclusive, and reflective of the current musical landscape.”
Thoughtful, and decades overdue.