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Recording Academy Cuts 31 Categories from Grammy Awards

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The 54th Annual Grammys will present awards in 78 categories in 2012, after the Recording Academy announced an overhaul to the voting process, a consolidation of categories and introduced new voting rules today.

Some of the gender-based categories (such as best solo performance by a female artist) have been consolidated, leaving artists such as Eminem with less of an opportunity to be let down (10 nominations in 2011 but no wins in major categories) and Britney Spears with even less of a chance to ever win a Grammy. Additionally, many of the awards' more unique categories will be consolidated or reassigned. These include traditional gospel; children's spoken-word album; Zydeco or Cajun music album; and best classical crossover album.

Neil Portnoy, CEO of the Recording Academy, confessed to Billboard that there really was no rhyme or reason for blowing up the awards into a day-long extravaganza recognizing more than 100 categories (109 in 2011):

"Every year there are changes but we've never … stopped and stepped back to look at the whole thing," Portnow told Billboard in an exclusive interview. "[We asked], is there an underlying infrastructure and rationale across all the awards as to how we're doing this? And what we found is, there wasn't."
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No categories have been stripped from the awards, according to the announcement, although some genres will now be combined.In addition to merging the separate awards for male and female vocal performance into a new pop solo performance category, The metal and hard rock categories have also been combined.

In the pop, rock and country fields, the awards for instrumental performance have been dropped.

Each category will now require at least 40 distinct artist entries, an increase from the current 25.

Voters who previously chose up to nine genre fields to vote in, will now choose from a pool of 20 categories, in addition to four general categories. The changes are explained to members with the help of a category mapper.

Today at 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET, Portnow will participate in a live online chat about the changes at livestream.com, grammy.com and the Grammys' Facebook page.