Grammys 2022: Bo Burnham Ineligible for Comedy Category at Grammys

Sad Bo Burnham
Screenshot Courtesy of Netflix

In the second Grammy ineligibility decision this week, Bo Burnham’s “Inside (The Songs)” has been rejected as contender in the comedy album category for the 2022 Grammys.

The album will be put on the preliminary ballot going out to Recording Academy members, but in the category of best compilation soundtrack for visual media instead of comedy album, according to Billboard. The album is made up of musical material that appeared in Burnham’s hit Netflix special, “Inside.”

Burnham’s record label Republic confirmed the news. The Recording Academy does not make the preliminary ballots that go out to voters public, so controversies over classification usually only become widely known if the artist or label opts to go public with dissatisfaction over the genre they end up in.

A major music news story emerged out of letter that Kacey Musgraves’ record company president, Cindy Mabe, wrote to Academy chief Harvey Mason Jr., calling foul on Grammy screening committees’ decision to put her “Star-Crossed” album in contention for pop album instead of country album, the category where it’d been submitted by Universal Music Group Nashville.

Since Burnham’s album went to No. 1 on the comedy chart–and has remained in that top spot for 18 weeks of release–it’s not known what the Academy comedy screening committee’s rationale for disqualifying it is.

The fact that it consists of material recorded for TV instead of an audio medium might be a factor in bumping it to soundtrack contention. But last year’s winner, Tiffany Haddish’s “Black MItzvah,” was also the soundtrack to a Netflix special, as were other contenders like Jerry Seinfeld’s “23 Hours to Kill” and Bill Burr’s “Paper Tiger.”

Most of the albums nominated for comedy in recent years have been soundtracks to TV or streaming specials.

The decision could reflect wish to keep the category to spoken-word standup and disallow satirical music. But there’s history of nominated musical material dating back to the Chipmunks and Stan Freberg getting nods for comedy as far back as 1959, and as recent as “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Mandatory Fun” winning best comedy album as recently as 2015. Similarly, Flight of the Conchords’ music EP “The Distant Future” won in 2007.

Republic had submitted “All Eyes on Me” for best song written for visual medium, a category akin to the one the Grammy committee shuffled the album into. That song was also submitted for record of the year, song of the year and best pop solo performance, Billboard reported.

Musgraves’ album debuted at the top of Billboard’s country chart. There was more critical and public discussion leading up the Grammys’ controversial decision as to whether “Star-Crossed” felt more like a country or pop album.

The country screening committee felt that it did not meet the bar of consisting of at least 51% country material, and so sent it over to the pop screening committee to see if they felt it was primarily pop. If the pop committee had disagreed, the country committee would have taken the matter back into its hands and likely agreed to keep it in a country category, as submitted. But the pop division’s screeners agreed it was mostly a pop album. After Mabe and Musgrave’s manager, Jason Owen, privately and vehemently objected to it being shifted to pop, the Academy made the unusual decision to bring in the core committee, which usually only oversees the top four general categories. They, too, decided it belonged in pop. It was after that appeal failed that Mabe wrote the letter to Mason Jr. Sunday.

Burnham’s album would have been a runaway favorite if it had stayed in the comedy field, given its dominance in that cstegory this year.

The Netflix special has been such popular phenom that the album stands good chance in the soundtrack category.