The nominations for the Grammys were announced back in November 2020, although the event itself had to be postponed due to the pandemic. At the time of the nominee announcements, the singer — whose real name is Abel Tesfaye — expressed his displeasure in a Tweet, writing “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…”
The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) November 25, 2020
Given that the artists song Blinding Lights was one of the biggest hits of 2020 (spurred on by a TikTok dance challenge) The Weeknd’s lack of nominations were certainly a surprise.
In response, the award-winning performer will not be attending the March 14 ceremony and will refrain from submitting his work for consideration to the Recording Academy going forward.
“Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys,” Tesfaye said in a statement to The New York Times.
“Secret committees” refers to the fairly vague and confusing process by which the awards are decided upon by anonymous expert committees. It is up to these subsets of people to go over the nomination choices submitted by the thousands of music industry insiders who make up the voting arm of the Recording Academy. It is these committees who have the final say as to who gets a nomination with the process intended to maintain integrity.
However, it remains a mystery as to how The Weeknd could wind up with zero nominations after what was undeniably a stellar year for the artist, culminating in his multi-million dollar performance at the Super Bowl halftime show.
Additionally, the Blinding Lights became the first song in Billboard Hot 100 history to spend a full year in the chart’s top 10 while After Hours — the album that boasts the hit single — was the fourth best selling album of 2020 and broke the record for the most global pre-adds for an album in Apple Music history, with over 1.02 million users pre-adding the album to their libraries.
The Weeknd has previously won three Grammys — twice for Best Urban Contemporary Album, with 2014’s Beauty Behind the Madness and 2018’s Starboy taking home the coveted prize.
Tesfaye now joins a growing list of artists who have chosen to boycott the Grammys, with Drake, Kanye West and Frank Ocean all having spoken out about the awards show in previous years.
Ocean referred to his 2017 decision to avoid the much-hyped music event as his “Colin Kaepernick moment,” citing his concerns over the Grammys’ track record with representation as his reason for skipping them.
The issue with the Grammys lack of recognising artists of colour has been a hot button topic in recent years, especially in light of the widespread Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 which has prompted all awards shows to examine their history of leaving minority performers out in the cold.
The last time a Black artist won the album of the year nod at the Grammys was in 2008, when Herbie Hancock took home the top prize for River: The Joni Letters, his tribute to Joni Mitchell.
The 63rd annual Grammy Awards are set to air live on Sunday, March 14 at 8pm ET / 5pm PT.
In Australia, you can catch the Grammys on Network 10 and WIN, live from 11am AEDT on Monday, March 15.