In a since-deleted Instagram post, Halsey criticized the Recording Academy’s behind-the-scenes operations – including by stating that the organization accepts “bribes” for Grammys nominations and awards.
The New Jersey-born artist’s firmly worded criticism of the Recording Academy arrives just days after The Weeknd took aim at the 63-year-old entity, calling the Grammy Awards “corrupt.” Like Halsey, whose Manic effort was the first album of 2020 to be certified Platinum by the RIAA, The Weeknd and his chart-topping After Hours record failed to receive a single nomination ahead of the 2021 Grammys.
Multiple artists backed The Weeknd, though Recording Academy interim President and CEO Harvey Mason Jr. responded to the corruption allegations by indicating that the “Starboy” creator’s lack of nominations was a natural byproduct of the Grammys voting process.
Halsey – who’s received two Grammy nominations to date, but has yet to win the award – begins her Instagram message on the Grammys snub by emphasizing that many individuals had reached out to offer words of support. Consequently, the 26-year-old, whose full name is Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, wanted to choose her words “carefully.”
From there, Halsey characterizes the Grammys as “an elusive process” and relays that success at the awards show “often” results from private performances, “knowing the right people,” and campaigning “with the right handshakes and ‘bribes’ that can be just ambiguous enough to pass as ‘not-bribes.’”
“And if you get that far,” continues the “Without Me” artist, “it’s about committing to exclusive TV performances and making sure you help the Academy make their millions in advertising on the night of the show.”
This comment is particularly noteworthy because some have suggested that The Weeknd’s Super Bowl LV halftime show – which is set to take place one week after the 63rd Grammy Awards ceremony – contributed to his receiving zero nominations. The Weeknd himself also mentioned the possibility, which Harvey Mason Jr. denied, stating that the voting process had concluded before the public announcement of The Weeknd’s halftime-show spot.
Worth noting, however, is that Jay-Z – whose wife, Beyoncé, received the most 2021 Grammy nominations of any artist – had likely worked for some time to finalize The Weeknd’s headlining slot, given his Roc Nation company’s partnership with the NFL.
In closing, Halsey suggests that the Grammys aren’t “always about the music or quality or culture,” states that both The Weeknd and her Manic album deserved better, and expresses a desire for “more transparency or reform” at the Recording Academy. “But I’m sure this post will blacklist me anyway,” concludes Halsey, who scored a major Budweiser sponsorship deal last month.
At the time of publishing, Harvey Mason Jr. hadn’t publicly responded to Halsey’s claims. But as the interim Recording Academy head addressed The Weeknd’s condemnation of the Grammys – which, unlike Halsey’s criticism, remains live on social media – he may well issue a public comment on the subject.
Since former Recording Academy head Deborah Dugan stepped down last year (levying allegations of corruption, sexual harassment, and a corresponding lawsuit on her way out), the Grammys organizer has taken a number of reform-minded steps – including renaming awards categories, hiring a chief diversity officer, and retooling eligibility requirements.