The Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammys, has announced a number of changes to their rules and guidelines, including name changes for several categories. Most notably, “Best Urban Contemporary Album” has been renamed “Best Progressive R&B Album”, seemingly in response to increasing criticisms of the term “Urban” since the category was introduced in 2012. However, the term has been kept for the category of “Latin Pop”, which has now been renamed “Latin Pop and Urban”.
According to a statement by the Recording Academy’s interim president and CEO Harvey Mason Jr., the change was decided last month. “We’re constantly evaluating our Awards process and evolving it to ensure the Grammy Awards are inclusive and reflect the current state of the music industry,” he said.
“Each year, we receive a number of rule change proposals from artists, producers and songwriters asking us to reevaluate our process,” Chief Awards Officer Bill Freimuth added.
The Best Progressive R&B Category is described as “intended to highlight albums that include the more progressive elements of R&B and may include samples and elements of hip-hop, rap, dance, and electronic music” and may incorporate “production elements found in pop, euro-pop, country, rock, folk, and alternative.”
“Best Latin Pop or Urban”, on the other hand, is “intended to recognize excellence in Latin pop or urban music recordings that utilize a stylistic intention, song structure, lyrical content, and/or musical presentation to create a sensibility that reflects the broad spectrum of Latin pop music style and culture.”
Moreover, “Best Rap/Sung Performance” has been renamed “Best Melodic Rap Performance”, representing “solo and collaborative performances containing…. a strong and clear presence of melody combined with rap cadence.”
With regards to the “Best New Artist” category, there is no longer a limit on the number of prior releases for an act to be eligible for the award. Instead, “screening committees will determine whether the artist had attained a breakthrough or prominence prior to the eligibility year,” according to the new rules. Previously, artists with more than 30 singles/tracks (or three albums) were not eligible for the prize. This change is likely in response the controversy following Lizzo’s nomination last year, which was allowed despite her surpassing the maximum amount of tracks.
The Recording Academy also made changes within its Nominations Review Committees, the group responsible for taking the most popular Grammy submissions, who are now required to fill out conflict of interest forms.
You can check out the entire 66-page rule book here.