This story is part of Billboard’s 2022 Grammy Preview issue, highlighting the artists, issues and trends that will define awards season. Read our cover story on Halsey, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross here.
Changes at the Recording Academy — and in the way music’s coolest names make their art — mean these down-ballot categories could be just as exciting (and informative) as the night’s marquee awards.
Best Música Urbana Album
As reggaetón and Latin trap music have become major forces in pop culture, the Recording Academy has seemed unsure of how to recognize those genres’ influence. Over the years, the organization has shuffled the “urban” label among multigenre categories, at different times making its biggest names compete against more traditional Latin pop stars, as well as rock and alternative artists. This new category gives urbano music a chance to shine. Likely contenders include Bad Bunny (El Último Tour Del Mundo) — who won his first Grammy in March for YHLQMDLG in the best Latin pop or urban album category — as well as Anuel AA and Ozuna (Los Dioses), Karol G (KG0516), Rauw Alejandro (Vice Versa) and Myke Towers (Like Myke).
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
A narrower category than the Big Four awards by definition, best pop duo/group performance has often felt just as competitive since its introduction at the 2012 Grammys, especially as pop’s biggest stars have embraced collaboration more in the past decade. This eligibility year has no shortage of offerings: Justin Bieber has released not one but three smash collaborations (“Holy” featuring Chance the Rapper, “Peaches” featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon, and “Stay” with The Kid LAROI), Megan Thee Stallion gave BTS a continent-spanning assist on a “Butter” remix, and Doja Cat linked up with SZA for the inescapable “Kiss Me More.” Meanwhile, Grammy favorites Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak formed suave supergroup Silk Sonic, but don’t expect to see them compete here — the duo’s chart-topping “Leave the Door Open” will likely be deemed a better fit for the R&B categories.
Best Global Music Performance
Last year, the Grammys revamped its long-running best world music album category and unveiled best global music album in order to depart “from the connotations of colonialism, folk and ‘non-American’ that the former term embodied,” according to the academy. The impact was immediate: Genre-blurring Nigerian artist Burna Boy won the category with his Twice As Tall album, the closest thing the award had to a contemporary pop star among recent winners, like Angélique Kidjo and Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble. The category makeover will continue to reflect the ways the internet has eroded language and geographic barriers, and it may provide a Grammys foothold for more African pop stars (like “Essence” hitmaker Wizkid) and K-pop artists (whose undeniable chart success has so far barely translated into Grammy recognition).