Justin Bieber accused of ‘appropriation’ after making ‘embarrassing’ complaints about the Grammys

Isobel van Hagen
Wednesday 25 November 2020 16:36
Showbiz
Justin Bieber in February(Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

Justin Bieber was not content with the categories in which his four Grammy nominations fell, which many music fans found to be somewhat ridiculous.

Bieber’s fifth album Changes  received a Grammy nomination on Tuesday for best pop vocal album, which he in turn called “weird” and “strange”.

The Canadian singer wrote a short letter to the Recording Academy on Instagram saying that while he was flattered for the recognition, that his album was apparently not ‘pop’.

"To the Grammys I am flattered to be acknowledged and appreciated for my artistry. I am very meticulous and intentional about my music. With that being said I set out to make an R&B album. Changes was and is an R&B album," he wrote. "It is not being acknowledged as an R&B album which is very strange to me. I grew up admiring R&B music and wished to make a project that would embody that sound."

"For this not to be put into that category feels weird considering from the chords to the melodies to the vocal style all the way down to the hip hop drums that were chosen it is undeniably, unmistakably an R&B Album! To be clear I absolutely love Pop music it just wasn't what I set out to make this time around. My gratitude for feeling respected for my work remains and I am honored to be nominated either way."

This did not go over well for multiple reasons.

Firstly, many artists who had made strides in R&B music this year – like Teyana Taylor and The Weeknd – had not received any kind of recognition from the Academy. 

“Justin Bieber is upset about his album not being nominated in the r&b category........meanwhile The Weeknd didn't receive any nominations at all for his prolific work....something doesn't sit right with me about all this,” one person explained on Twitter.

Despite the superstar’s aim to specifically distinguish his new album ("Not pop. r&bieber," he tweeted earlier this year) from his 2015 dance pop album Purpose, Bieber also faced criticism for seemingly “appropriating” a genre that historically originated in African American communities.

While some fans supported Bieber in his grievance, most people across social media called his complaint “embarrassing”, “disrespectful” and “privileged”.

“NOT Justin Bieber complaining about his Grammy noms not being considered R&B while black artists who excel in R&B (a historically black category) have to beg for recognition in their own genre,” one person tweeted.

“Justin Bieber added Black ppl as features on an album that is infused with ringtone beats and thought it was R&B,” another Twitter user joked.

Others were less concerned with the nitty gritty of the categories and spoke more generally and bluntly: Referring to his Instagram post, @ESeaaa quipped, “Hunny, your album shouldn’t have been nominated at all”.

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