After failing to receive a Grammy nomination despite the immense commercial success of his After Hours album, The Weeknd has called the annual awards show “corrupt” – prompting the Recording Academy’s interim president and CEO, Harvey Mason Jr., to respond.
Yesterday, the Recording Academy unveiled the list of artists and professionals who’re in the running to take home Grammys in 2021. Expectedly, well-known creators like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, BTS, Harry Styles, Post Malone, and Billie Eilish (who swept the four main awards categories last year) received nominations. Moreover, Beyoncé garnered nine nominations, including for “Record of the Year” and “Song of the Year,” to Taylor Swift’s six nominations and Post Malone’s three nominations (for “Record of the Year,” “Album of the Year,” and “Song of the Year”).
A multitude of fans, fellow artists including Nicki Minaj, and The Weeknd himself quickly noticed that March’s After Hours had failed to receive a single nomination across the Grammys’ 83 awards categories. The 14-track album broke the Apple Music record for pre-loads, and according to the latest data from Spotify, fans have streamed its “Blinding Lights” single nearly 1.68 billion times – the seventh-highest play total of any song on the platform.
“The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…” The Weeknd wrote on Twitter yesterday evening. At the time of this piece’s publishing, the 30-year-old artist’s message had generated over 225,000 retweets and one million likes.
Recording Academy interim President and CEO Harvey Mason Jr. responded to the tweet and the overarching claims in a statement, appearing to indicate that The Weeknd’s lack of nominations was a natural result of the Grammys’ voting process.
“We understand that the Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated. I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling,” said Mason Jr., who succeeded Deborah Dugan ahead of last year’s controversy-laden Grammy Awards. “His music this year was excellent, and his contributions to the music community and broader world are worthy of everyone’s admiration.”
Separately, The Weeknd and his followers have speculated that the Grammys snub resulted from the Toronto native’s agreeing to headline the Super Bowl LV halftime show, which will take place on February 7th, 2021 – one week following the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards. Harvey Mason Jr. also dismissed this theory, emphasizing that the voting process concluded well before The Weeknd’s halftime-show set was announced.
“We were thrilled when we found out he would be performing at the upcoming Super Bowl and we would have loved to have him also perform on the Grammy stage the weekend before,” said Harvey Mason Jr. “To be clear, voting in all categories ended well before The Weeknd’s performance at the Super Bowl was announced, so in no way could it have affected the nomination process.”
Worth noting, however, is that the halftime-show wheels were likely in motion long before the public announcement, with Roc Nation founder Jay-Z – husband to Beyoncé, who received the most 2021 Grammy nominations, once again – having played a key role in organizing the happening, given his company’s partnership with the National Football League.
Following Harvey Mason Jr.’s comments, The Weeknd doubled down on his position – and criticism – in another tweet today.
“Collaboratively planning a performance for weeks to not being invited? In my opinion zero nominations = you’re not invited!” he wrote.
Last month, as part of its comprehensive reorganization plan, the Recording Academy laid off 13 additional staff members. And at November’s start, the organization revealed that it would rename the “Best World Music Album” award category “Best Global Music Album” to avoid “connotations of colonialism.”