Grammys expand number of nominees in top four categories from five to eight

The number of nominations in the top four categories — Record, Song, Album of the Year and Best New Artist — will expand from five to eight an the change takes effect immediately


                            Grammys expand number of nominees in top four categories from five to eight

Some big changes are coming to the Grammys. In one of the most radical changes since the introduction of the coveted awards in 1959, the number of nominations in the top four categories — Record, Song, Album of the Year and Best New Artist — will expand from five to eight. The change takes effect immediately with the 61st Annual Grammy Awards in 2019. In a statement, Recording Academy president and CEO Neil Portnow said the expansion will provide more flexibility to voters and creates an opportunity for wider recognition for artists.

"Throughout the year, we team up with music people across all genres and disciplines to consider revisions and subsequently make amendments to our rules and entry guidelines to ensure we're keeping up with our ever-changing industry and meeting the needs of music creators," Portnow said in the statement. This creates more opportunities for a wider-range of recognition in these important categories and gives more flexibility to our voters when having to make the often challenging decisions about representing excellence and the best in music for the year. We look forward to celebrating all of our nominees when they are announced later this year."

Other than in cases of a tie, the nominations have been limited to five in each of the four General Field categories since the Grammys' inception. The other 80 categories remain capped at five nominations each. The Recording Academy's decision echoes an expansion undertaken by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences in 2009 when it doubled the number of best picture nominees from five to 10.

Additionally, as Billboard points out, the World Music field will now determine its five finalists by a nominations review committee, which will take the top 15 selections from the general voting membership's first ballot and narrow the selections to five. Review committees are already used in a number of other categories, including album of the year.

While not specifically mentioned, the move is likely also a response to criticism over the lack of female winners in 2018. In the four major categories, only Alessia Cara claimed victory as Best New Artist, while many of the genre-specific categories were awarded to male nominees such as Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars. To top it all off, Lorde was the only Best Album nominee to not be offered a solo performance slot during the night's ceremony earlier this January.

Alessia Cara, winner of Grammy Award for Best New Artist 2018, was the only female winner in the top four categories this year (Photo Credit:  Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for NARAS)
Alessia Cara, winner of Grammy Award for Best New Artist 2018, was the only female winner in the top four categories this year (Photo Credit:  Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for NARAS)

In response, Portnow insisted that the onus was on women to “step up.” Not surprisingly, his comments were met with immense criticism, leading Portnow to announce that he would be stepping down as president of the Recording Academy in 2019. The Recording Academy also established an independent task force “to review every aspect of what we do as an organization and identify where we can more to overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community.”

The Grammy Awards return to Los Angeles' Staples Center in 2019 after switching to New York's Madison Square Garden in 2018, and it'll be interesting to see how the performances for the nights are slotted, now that the number of nominations is larger. As a longstanding tradition, the Grammys usually have tried to highlight all the nominees in the album of the year category in some way.