Five Oddball Grammy Categories, Explained

The more you dig, the more you realize there are quite a few lesser-known categories. We dug into the history and meaning behind five of them.

burna boy in the club with shades

Image via Getty

burna boy in the club with shades

The 65th Annual Grammy Awards is taking place in Los Angeles this Sunday (Feb. 5), and there are a lot of categories—91 to be exact. People are, of course, most familiar with the big four (Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist) and some of the subsections for mainstream genres like rap, pop, and rock. However, dozens of awards are not televised and, upon further investigation, there are a few interesting categories. 

Best Global Music Album, for example, is a contentious category that feels like a meek placeholder for the Recording Academy to vaguely address the impact of artists outside of the Western world by acknowledging them without actually addressing their impact—especially given how prominent Afrobeats and Latin music are in Western countries. The category also seems odd, because it’s not as if international artists—like Bad Bunny—for example, are ineligible for other awards. That doesn’t mean that those nominated this year (Burna Boy, Masa Takumi, Berklee Indian Ensemble, etc.) are undeserving of an award but rather that they deserve more than being pigeonholed into this category.

Meanwhile, some of the interesting and lesser-known categories, like Best Comedy Album or Best Historical Album, have been around nearly as long as the awards show itself (since 1959). While others, like Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media, are new to the Grammys this year. 

But the more you dig, the more you realize there are quite a few lesser-known, oddball categories like it. We dug into the history and meaning behind five of them below.

Best Comedy Album

The Best Comedy Album category has been around since the Grammy’s inception in 1959; though the award was paused in 1993 and commenced again in 2004. According to the Recording Academy, it’s meant to “honor artistic achievement in comedy.” Past recipients of the award have included Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, and Whoopi Goldberg—who became the first Black woman to take home the trophy in 1986 for her role in Whoopi Goldberg (Original Broadway Show Recording). Dave Chappelle has also won several Best Comedy Album awards over the last few years and is nominated again this year alongside Louis C.K. Despite admitting to sexual misconduct in 2017, CK won the award last year for his comedy special Sincerely and could win again in 2023. Truly the darkest timeline.

Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media

One of the latest categories to be added to the Grammys slate in 2023 is Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media. The video game industry already has various different award shows throughout the year including The Game Awards and Game Critics Awards, but this category is meant to recognize “excellence in score soundtrack albums comprised predominantly of original scores and created specifically for, or as a companion to, a current video game or other interactive media released within the qualification period,” according to the academy. The nominees for this year are the composers for Aliens: Fireteam EliteAssassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök, Call Of Duty®: Vanguard, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and Old World. Considering how rich and detailed video games have become over the past few years, it makes sense that the Grammys would create this award in order to recognize them.

Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical

Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical was originally introduced during the 40th annual Grammys in 1998 under the title Remixer of the Year, Non-Classical. The title shifted to Best Remixed Recording in 2002 and is awarded to whoever best takes an original song and remixes it in the most unique and creative way. Because this category deals in remixes, it’s not limited to genres, which makes it more diverse in nominees. Prominent winners over the years have been Skrillex, David Guetta, and Cedric Gervais. Interestingly, this year’s nominees include Terry Hunter for his creative rendition of Beyoncé’s hit single “Break My Soul.” Hunter, who told The Triibe that he didn’t even submit the song for Grammy consideration, worked closely with Bey and her team on the remix as well. “‘Do you.’ Those were their exact words. ‘Do you,’” Hunter said about what the singer’s team told him when going about remixing the hit song.

Best Global Music Album

The Best Global Music Album category has had a complicated history with the Grammys. The award was first introduced in 1992 as Best World Music Album before being split into two separate categories: Best Traditional World Music Album and Best Contemporary World Music Album. The phrasing “World Music” was a point of issue for many of the international artists in contention for the award, and in 2020, the Grammys finally changed the category name.

Recording Academy members explained their reasoning in an email saying, “The change symbolizes a departure from the connotations of colonialism, folk, and ‘non-American’ that the former term embodied while adapting to current listening trends and cultural evolution among the diverse communities it may represent.” 

Best Historical Album

This might be one of the most interesting categories the Grammys offers awards for, because it relates more to the technical side of music. Best Historical Album was introduced in 1979 and awards the engineers and producers who were able to best restore the audio of classical pieces of music. Engineers deserve some love, too. Past albums that have been restored to Grammy-level standards are Bob Dylan’s The Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965–1966, the Rolling Stones’ Charlie Is My Darling – Ireland 1965 performance, The Beatles: The Original Studio Recordings, and Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris, among many others.

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