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Michael Phelps, The Grammy Nods, And Me

Every year around this time I get confused. Not from quitting egg nog cold turkey or overdosing on football, but from trying to parse the Grammy nominations.

Does anybody not involved in the music business really understand the difference between, say, the Record of the Year and Song of the Year categories? (I had to look it up--the former is for producers while the latter is for songwriters.) Can anybody offer a good explanation as to why there are separate categories for, just to cite one curious instance, Male Pop Vocal Performance and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals? Why can't individuals compete in the same category with a group? Isn't the best song the best song? What difference does it make if one or two people sang it? Or, someone please explain to me the difference between R&B and Traditional R&B and how Beyonce can be nominated in both spots. (And why in the former men and women don't compete against each other but in the latter they do.) This stuff drives me nuts.

Tangent time: The seemingly endless Grammy nomination permutations remind me why I was never a huge Michael Phelps fan. Remember when Phelps won his record-setting eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing? I always felt like that was a bit of a weird achievement. Isn't the fact that swimming has so many different disciplines totally arbitrary? Butterfly stroke, freestyle, medley. 100 m, 200 m, 400 m. Relays. Swimmers are afforded the opportunity to win far more medals than a sprinter like Usain Bolt. Heck, maybe Bolt would've won eight golds too if he'd been allowed to run forwards, backwards, and sideways.

What does that have to do with the Grammy awards? Initially I was mightily impressed when I saw that Beyonce was nominated for 10 awards. Then, when I read the list of categories and saw all the different ways someone can get nominated, her feat didn't quite seem so impressive. It almost seems like it's hard for a name act like to not get nominated.

I'm certainly not opposed to the Grammy awards. I like the Grammy awards. I just wish I understood how and why people were nominated for them.

I'm curious to know what you guys think? Do you understand the differences between the categories? Do you put much stock in Grammy nominations? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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