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Category: Music

Grammy Awards get a major overhaul, including revamped categories, changes in voting procedures

Mick Jagger-Grammys

The Grammys are getting a major face lift. The Recording Academy held a news conference Wednesday morning at its Santa Monica headquarters to announce a complete revamp of its musical categories,– reducing the number of categories from 109 at the last awards show to 78.

It is also changing the way academy members vote for nominees and reworking the way categories are added and eliminated from the ceremony. “All categories wil remain, they’ll just be found in different genres” said President and Chief Executive Neil Portnow. “The message isn’t about cutting, it’s about changing the way we present the awards. We welcome all artists who make music in the Grammy process, it’s just going to look a little different.”

The number of categories has expanded over the years from an original 28 in 1959, evolving one category at a time on a piecemeal basis and “without an overall vision” said Portnow. The result has been more of a “collage,” he said. To give the Grammys a more cohesive structure that better matches the current musical landscape, in 2009 the organization initiated a sweeping, comprehensive evaluation of both the award categories and voting process.

The result of that process is the reworking announced Wednesday morning. The awards and nominations committee spent more than a year reviewing the process, said five-time Grammy Award winner and songwriter/record producer Jimmy Jam. It then submitted its recommendations to the Recording Academy’s board of trustees “with the greater purpose of promoting unity in our music community,” Jam said. The results were approved by the board, which directs the vision of the organization.

Over time, the number of categories and genre distinctions had resulted in curious and at times confusing nominations. In 2009, comedy rap group Lonely Island received a nomination in the best rap song category, when the original version was a "Saturday Night Live" clip. That same year, Hall & Oates was nominated for best pop performance by a group or duo with vocals for a live version of a song that was a hit nearly 30 years earlier. And in one of the most notable instances of genre confusion, in 1989  progressive rock group Jethro Tull won the award for best heavy metal album. The restructuring of the voting process is intended to address these frustrations.

The official Grammy site has posted a "Category Mapper" with full category comparisons.

Check back with Awards Tracker for updates and more detailed information throughout the day.

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Poll: Will Chris Brown ever get a Grammy hug?

-- Deborah Vankin

Photo: Mick Jagger and Raphael Saadiq perform during this year's Grammy Awards at Staples Center. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

 


Academy of Country Music Awards: Las Vegas welcomes Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift with open arms

Miranda lambert academy country music
Her third-place finish in the 2003 season of "Nashville Star" now a mere blip in the rearview mirror, Miranda Lambert earned four first-place trophies at the 46th Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday night. The Tyler, Texas, native was honored as best female vocalist, and her introspective hit single "The House That Built Me," a down-home meditation on enduring values, was named both single and song of the year. The song snagged video of the year as well.

Academy-country--music The repeated recognitions for Lambert during the three-hour telecast gave the firebrand singer-songwriter a strong showing early in the night, and she seemed to be headed toward a sweep. But after watching others take trophies in the album and female vocalist categories for which she had also been nominated, another female powerhouse, Taylor Swift, got the night's top prize, the fan-voted entertainer of the year, the youngest performer ever to win it.

"This is the first time I've ever won this, and I'm just losing my mind," she said. "We just got back from touring in Europe and Asia, so thank you for this wonderful welcome-home gift."

Continue reading »

Poll: Will poor Britney Spears ever win a top Grammy?

Now that Britney Spears is topping the music charts with her seventh studio album, "Femme Fatale," she'll soon —uh-oh! —  be back in the Grammy derby again.

That's ominous news considering how Spears has fared at music's top awards show in the past. While she's won other major kudos (10 Billboard Awards, four MTV Music Video Awards), Britney's only nabbed one Grammy, and she's never been nominated in the top three categories: best album, record or song of the year. When she was nommed for Grammy's fourth-highest honor -– best new artist -– in 2000, the result was catastrophic: She lost to rival diva Christina Aguilera.

Britney Spears Femme Fatale music news

Of eight past nominations, Britney's only Grammy victory was for "Toxic" as best dance recording of 2005. Does that mean that she's a real femme fatale as far as the top Grammys are concerned?

The 29-year-old's turbulent personal life appears to have quieted down. But just this week she stumbled into another PR bobble when Enrique Iglesias tried to ditch their joint concert plans. And now she's been slapped with a sizable lawsuit related to her perfume line.

Of course, these PR and legal kerfuffles aren't entirely Britney's fault. But it's possible Grammy voters will pick up on this news and decide they still don't want to welcome her into their inner circle. Don't forget -- showbiz trophies are first and foremost about hugs. Winners are typically those the awarding bodies feel good about embracing.

Don't agree? Here are two shining examples: Eminem and Kanye West. Controversy follows them both as regularly as night follows day. West, especially, is prone to massive hissy fits when he feels disrespected. Grammy voters are happy to nominate both artists in genre categories and even for such marquee awards as album, record and song of the year. But despite critical and commercial praise, they never win those top trophies.

Dance-pop music is sizzling hot once again thanks to Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Katy Perry and Pink. And Spears has the technical wizardy of hitmaker Max Martin, among others, contributing to "Femme Fatale." It would seem she is a cinch for Grammy gongs in the dance and pop categories.

But will her reputation for unpredictability -- deserved or not -- continue to strike a sour note with music insiders?

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Jive Records


Poll: Will Chris Brown ever get a Grammy hug?

Chris Brown newsBecause the Grammy is a peer-group award, it reflects how music industry leaders feel about one another. Like Chris Brown. He's never won a Grammy. After his felony assault of Rihanna, Brown did manage to whip up three nominations. But he was shut out when the awards were handed out last February.

Now that his new CD is out, can Brown finally be a winner?

His new music is certainly selling like one. Reports the L.A. Times: " 'F.A.M.E.' entered Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart at No. 1 Wednesday with first-week sales of 270,000 copies, the second-highest total of the year despite — or perhaps partly because of — the singer's tirade after ABC's 'Good Morning America' host Robin Roberts had asked him about his 2009 assault on former girlfriend Rihanna rather than limiting their discussion to the album. It gives Brown his first No. 1 on the national album chart, although its initial-week sales total is slightly down from his 2004 high of 294,000 for 'Exclusive,' which peaked at No. 4 in Billboard."

At the last Grammys, Brown's "Graffiti" lost the award for best contemporary R&B album to Usher's "Raymond vs. Raymond." His collaboration with Tank, "Take My Time," lost best performance by an R&B group with vocals to Sade's "Soldier of Love." He lost the rap/sung collaboration Grammy to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' "Empire State of Mind."

-- Tom O'Neil

Image: The cover of Chris Brown's new release, "F.A.M.E." Credit: Jive Records


Envelope Music Producers Roundtable: Hitmakers look forward to new year of bigger hits

Lady Gaga's “Bad Romance,” Eminem's “Love the Way You Lie,” Cee Lo Green's “[Forget] You” and B.o.B.'s “Nothin' on You” and “Airplanes” not only proved to be major game changers for the artists performing them, but it put the three hitmakers responsible for crafting the singles (Alex da Kid, Ari Levine of the production trio the Smeezingtons and RedOne) on the map.

After spending a better part of 2010 blanketing airwaves and filling headphones with indelible hooks and melodies, the three are now duking it out for Grammy gold in some hotly contended races.

Levine, as part of the production trio the Smeezingtons (with Bruno Mars and Philip Lawrence), has four nominations, including record of the year for both B.o.B.'s “Nothin' on You” and Cee Lo Green's “[Forget] You.” Alex da Kid too has four nominations, including both record of the year and song of the year for “Love the Way You Lie.” RedOne received two nominations this year, capped by an album of the year nod for his work on Gaga's “The Fame Monster.”

With February barely making a notch on calendars, the producers have wasted no time with their next hits. RedOne is riding a wave of buzz for producing "On the Floor," the leaked lead single from Jennifer Lopez's upcoming album; Alex Da Kid crafted Dr. Dre's heavily anticipated comeback lead single, “I Need A Doctor,” which features Eminem and Skylar Grey (Alex's own artist, by the way); and although Levine is mum on what he is working on, we've heard he is cooking up another year's worth of hits.

In the clip above, Times pop music critic Ann Powers asks the three what they are most excited about in 2011 after their respective breakout years.

Check back daily until the Grammy Awards on Feb. 13 to see more of this conversation on pop music.

Related:

Envelope Music Producers Roundtable: Does genre matter anymore?

Envelope Music Producers Roundtable: Sampling from the past versus composing in the present

Envelope Music Producers Roundtable: Has mobile technology stripped away emotion in pop?

— Gerrick D. Kennedy


Envelope Music Producers Roundtable: Has mobile technology stripped away emotion in pop?

Technological advances in today’s evolving digital age have allowed music producers to venture from behind the studio soundboards and into the realm of endless mobility. 

During last month’s Grammy roundtable, the three hit-makers responsible for Grammy-nominated songs (Alex Da Kid, Ari Levine of the production trio the Smeezingtons, and RedOne) by Eminem, B.o.B., Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga, among others, spoke at length about how these advances have helped make their job more accessible despite rigorous travel demands.

Alex Da Kid said he crafted the hyperactive beat for Nicki Minaj's “Massive Attack” while riding a subway on the way to a studio in England; RedOne remembers writing the epic opening chords of “Bad Romance” while on a tour bus traveling with Gaga. “Love the Way You Lie” was mixed with Eminem in Detroit as Rihanna recorded her vocals at the last minute in Dublin.

“They can just send files from across the world to get stuff done,” Levine said. “Like [Alex] could sit on the subway with his laptop and make a hit song.... Now anyone can buy a studio in their house or on their laptop and make hits there.”

In the clip above, Times Pop Music Critic Ann Powers asks if anything is compromised by this sense of mobility –- especially whether the raw emotion of a song is depleted if the producer and artist never actually meet face to face.

Check back daily until the Grammy Awards on Feb. 13 to see more of this conversation on pop music.

Recent and related:

Envelope Music Producers Roundtable: Does genre matter anymore?

Envelope Music Producers Roundtable: Sampling from the past versus composing in the present

— Gerrick D. Kennedy


Oscar-contending directors gather for Los Angeles Times panel discussion

Fincher and Justin 
Just in time for the nominations, six Oscar-contending directors will get together at the Los Angeles Times to talk about their acclaimed films, their directorial visions, and whatever else is on their minds. The filmmakers -- Ben Affleck  ("The Town"), Darren Aronofsky ("Black Swan"), Lisa Cholodenko ("The Kids Are All Right"), Ethan Coen ("True Grit"), David Fincher ("The Social Network") and Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") -- will gather Saturday morning for the second annual Directors Roundtable and a closed-door conversation led by L.A. Times film writer John Horn.

And though the discussion is not open to the public, The Times welcomes questions from our readers, so please add yours to the comments section below or on the LA Times Entertainment Facebook page and Horn will select some to ask during the panel. The Envelope will be videotaping the conversation and replaying the highlights on Awards Tracker beginning Monday.

-- Elena Howe 

Photo: David Fincher, left, and Justin Timberlake. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images


Top music producers will share what's on their minds at roundtable discussion

Redone

The first Los Angeles Times Music Producers Roundtable will take place Saturday with music industry visionaries Alex Da Kid, Ari Levine and RedOne at the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live. Just in time for the Grammys, Los Angeles Times pop music critic Ann Powers will lead the three in a conversation about their work with such musical heavyweights as Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Eminem, B.o.B and Cee Lo Green, today's trends in music and the state of the industry.

The event is open to the public with doors opening at 6 p.m. but seats must be reserved in advance. Click here to make your reservations. The Times also welcomes reader input, so leave your questions for the panelists in the comments field below or on the Pop and Hiss Facebook page, and Powers will select a few to use in the discussion.

 -- Elena Howe

Photo: Grammy-winning producer RedOne. Credit: Keith Munyon

 


American Music Awards 2010: A family-friendly show is free of controversy

Justin-bieber

Last year Adam Lambert's kiss at the American Music Awards sent the Internet tongues wagging, but this year it was Usher and his protg, Justin Bieber, who gathered the most attention at the annual music fete, held at downtown L.A.'s Nokia Theatre and broadcast on ABC albeit with less controversy.

The pair took home six trophies at the show, which celebrates the United States' most popular musical artists. Bieber won four trophies, including artist of the year, while Usher, who signed the teen in 2008, received two, including favorite male R&B performance. Bieber is the youngest artist to ever win artist of the year.

But the American Music Awards are usually short on drama and long on performance, and this year was no exception. The winners are determined by a combination of fan voting, radio play, record sales and online video play, so as a result it's a popularity contest, not a critical judgment.

Continue reading »

2010 Latin Grammy Awards winners

Lbr68anc Who were the big winners at the 2010 Latin Grammy Awards? Read on for the list of winners. You can also check out this gallery of Latin Grammy Awards contenders with the most nominations.

GENERAL

Record of the Year

  • Camila, "Mientes"

Song of the Year

  • Mario Domm & Mnica Vlez, "Mientes"

Best New Artist

  • Alex Cuba

Album of the Year

  • Juan Luis Guerra, "A Son De Guerra"


POP

Best Female Pop Vocal Album

  • Nelly Furtado, "Mi Plan"

Best Male Pop Vocal Album

  • Alejandro Sanz, "Paraso Express"

Best Pop Album By A Duo or Group with Vocal

  • Camila, "Dejarte De Amar"

 

URBAN

Best Urban Music Album

  • Chino y Nacho, "Mi Nia Bonita"

Best Urban Song

  • Mala Rodrguez, "No Pidas Perdn"
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