The Weeknd Is Boycotting Future Grammy Award Shows

Selena Barrientos
·4 min read
The Weeknd Is Boycotting Future Grammy Award Shows

From Good Housekeeping

While watching the 63rd annual Grammy Awards and marking off your predictions, you may spot several of your favorite artists in virtual attendance. One notable artist that won't be present on Sunday, however, is Canadian singer-songwriter the Weekend. Despite the artist's extremely popular "Blinding Lights" track and well-received After Hours album, the Weeknd, formally known as Abel Tesfaye, is not up for any award this year.

In November of 2020, the Recording Academy released its list of 2021 Grammy nominations. Unfortunately, the Weeknd wasn’t nominated in any of the categories, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year among others.

Since his R&B/synth-pop album After Hours debuted in March of 2020, it’s broken numerous records. Most recently, Billboard announced that the Weeknd’s song “Blinding Lights” stayed in its Hot 100’s top 10 list for an entire year, a historical feat that no other artist has accomplished before. What’s more, “Blinding Lights” was the best-selling single of last year and After Hours was the no. 2 best-selling album worldwide, according to IFPI.

When the Weeknd didn’t see his name on the 2021 Grammy nominations list, he took to Twitter to share his thoughts. “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency,” he tweeted.

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Over the years, the organization behind the Grammys, the Recording Academy, has faced lots of scrutiny. According to The New York Times, many in the music industry have accused the Grammys of having biases against women and Black artists and upholding a voting system that is "unfair" and "out of touch." One of the issues revolves around the "anonymous expert committees," which are responsible for reviewing the Recording Academy's initial nomination choices in many of the categories and then determining who gets a nomination.

Last November, a "source close to the situation" allegedly told Rolling Stone that prior to the Weeknd's shutout, there had been discussions about him performing at the Grammys ceremony (which was originally scheduled to take place in January). According to this source, there was "a struggle" over the fact that he was going to play at the Super Bowl as well, but it was eventually agreed that he'd perform at both. But then, he didn't receive any nominations and was allegedly "completely ignored by the Grammys."

In response to the claims made and the Weeknd's reaction, Recording Academy Chair and Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. responded with the following statement:

"We understand that the Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated. I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling. His music this year was excellent, and his contributions to the music community and broader world are worthy of everyone’s admiration.

We would have loved to have him also perform on the Grammy stage the weekend before [the Super Bowl]. Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists ... 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. All Grammy nominees are recognized by the voting body for their excellence, and we congratulate them all.”

In late January, the Weeknd further elaborated to Billboard his feelings about the whole situation. Recalling the moment he found out he didn't receive a Grammys nod, his initial reaction was shock. But he also considered the role race played in the decision.

“If you were like ‘Do you think the Grammys are racist?’ I think the only real answer is that in the last 61 years of the Grammys, only 10 Black artists have won Album of the Year,” he told the outlet. “I don’t want to make this about me. That’s just a fact.”

As of late, it seems like the Weeknd has moved on and is charging ahead by focusing on his work. In February, he performed at the Super Bowl halftime show. To achieve a true “cinematic experience” during his 15-minute set, he contributed $7 million of his own money to fulfill his vision. In the end, about 92 million viewers tuned into Super Bowl Sunday and his performance has racked up more than 32 million views on YouTube so far.

Ahead of the Grammys, the Weeknd issued a statement to The New York Times announcing his decision to boycott the Grammys in the future. "Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys."

The Weeknd's manager, Wassim Slaiby, told the Times that he hoped this would inspire other artists to speak out.

"The Grammys should handle their legacy and clean it up to raise the bar to a level where everyone could be proud to hold up that award," Wassim said. "This is Harvey’s chance to step up and have his legacy be the guy who got the Grammys finally right."

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