LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Grammys are doing their best to fix one of the most egregious snubs in recent years.
The group behind the music industry’s top honors said on Wednesday it would change the eligibility rules for its coveted best new artist category so that a musician like Lady Gaga is not excluded again.
Even though the chart-topping dance/pop singer was clearly the biggest new artist to emerge on the music scene last year, she was deemed ineligible for consideration because she had been nominated the year before in a different category.
Now, the Recording Academy has decided that a previous nomination — but not a victory — will not stand in the way of a best new artist nomination. It’s a nod to an increasing trend where an artist releases a debut single long before the first album comes out, or otherwise debuts as the featured artist on someone else’s recording.
In Lady Gaga’s case, she received a Grammy nomination in the dance category in 2008 for her debut single “Just Dance.” Her first album, “The Fame,” did not hit the U.S. album chart until later that year, after the eligibility period ended. (The dance Grammy went to Daft Punk.)
She received five Grammy nominations last year, but her exclusion from the best new artist race allowed the Zac Brown Band to take home the statuette.
The academy’s statement did not specifically refer to Lady Gaga. The best new artist category often raises eyebrows because of the loose definition of “new.” Shelby Lynne won the race in 2001 after winning some mainstream attention with her sixth album. The rules were later changed to exclude contenders who have recorded more than three albums.
Some Grammy pundits also wonder about the application of “best,” pointing to the Grammys’ most infamous choice: the victory of Milli Vanilli in 1990. The award was later revoked after it emerged that the duo had lip-synched, a common practice these days. Recent winners, such as Arrested Development, Hootie and the Blowfish and Lauryn Hill, soon slipped into obscurity. The jury is still out on the last three winners: The Zac Brown Band, Adele and Amy Winehouse.
Reporting by Dean Goodman