It looks like all of the recent kvetching about the state of the modern Grammys has paid off—in a way that does nothing to address any of those concerns, really, but there are still changes afoot. The Recording Academy has announced that it will cut the current, overstuffed award list from 109 categories to a somewhat more svelte 78 beginning with next year’s ceremony, streamlining the various confusing subdivisions of each and creating a parallel system between each genre. Perhaps the most important revision: There is no longer any distinction between male and female performers in any category, so next year’s competition will be much, much more contentious, as Lady Gaga will be forced to go up against whatever John Mayer has crapped out by then.
Also, the awards for hard rock and metal have now been combined—with the academy noting that “distinction was often hairsplitting”—while “rock instrumental” (like “country instrumental”) no longer even exists, which is bad news for Jeff Beck. The other major shake-up came in the R&B genre, something that has been halved from its ridiculous eight separate sub-categories into a more manageable four, doing away with all those murky “traditional,” “urban/alternative,” and “contemporary” divisions. You can see a complete side-by-side list of the changes here, and say your goodbyes to our perennial favorite nominee, the “Best Hawaiian Music Album.”