Why is The Weeknd boycotting The Grammys?

Charlie Duffield
Sunday 14 March 2021 10:38
Showbiz

The 2021 Grammys take place in Los Angeles this Sunday, but Canadian pop star Abel Tesfaye – better known as The Weeknd – has said he will be permanently boycotting the event.

It’s because of the corruption within its nomination process, allegedly – but actually, there’s been a growing trend of artists questioning the legitimacy of the awards.

Speaking to The New York Times, Tesfaye said: “Because of the secret committees. I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.”

The committees are selected by the Recording Academy to review the nominations by its huge voting membership, and they have executive power over who ends up on the official shortlists and are able to add artists who receive zero nominations in.

The Weeknd’s song “Blinding Lights” was the biggest song of 2020, and the After Hours album was double-platinum – but Tesfaye didn’t receive a nomination for this year’s Grammys.

The shortlists were unveiled in November when he tweeted: “The Grammys remain corrupt,

“You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency …”

Referring to Tesfaye’s boycott, Grammys interim president Harvey Mason Jr told The New York Times: “We’re all disappointed when anyone is upset. But I will say that we are constantly evolving. And this year, as in past years, we are going to take a hard look at how to improve our awards process, including the nomination review committees.”

He went on to say that the nomination review committees were established in 1989 “to eliminate the potential for a general-awareness bias that might favour artists who enjoy greater name recognition over emerging artists, independent music and late-year releases”.

After the Weeknd received zero nominations for the 2021 awards, Drake called for the Grammys to be replaced with “something new that we can build up over time and pass on to the generations to come”.

In an Instagram post, he listed artists such as Popcaan, Lil Baby and Pop Smoke as among “too many missing names to even name” in terms of the artists snubbed this year by the Recording Academy.

He wrote: “I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards and just accept that what once was the highest form of recognition may no longer matter to the artists that exist now and the ones who come after.”

Previously in 2016, Frank Ocean - best known for his introspective, elliptical songs - also boycotted the Grammys, by refusing to submit his albums Blonde and Endless for judging.

He said this was because the Recording Academy’s processes were old-fashioned, and whilst the awards have “nostalgic importance”, they are not representative.

Kanye West has attended the event since 2015 after he disputed the fact that Beck had beaten Beyoncé’s monumentally acclaimed Lemonade for album of the year, telling E!: “Beck needs to respect artistry, he should have given his award to Beyoncé.”

This week former One Direction star Zayn Malik tweeted: “F*** the Grammys and everyone associated. Unless you shake hands and send gifts, there’s no nomination considerations. Next year I’ll send you a basket of confectionery.”

Justin Bieber echoed similar sentiments in a post on Instagram where he complained about his nominations being recognised as ‘pop’ rather than ‘R & B’

He went on to explain his accusations weren’t “personal” but reflected the “need for inclusion and the lack of transparency of the nomination process” which means “favouritism, racism, and networking politics” can influence the voting process.

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