The Weeknd calls Grammys "corrupt" after receiving no nominations
Hours after the Recording Academy announced the nominations for the 63rd annual Grammy Awards – and revealed that the Canadian pop-soul auteur hadn't earned a single one – the Weeknd responded on Twitter late Tuesday, telling his 13.5 million followers, "The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency..."
The academy's decision not to nominate the 30-year-old singer's smash 2020 album After Hours or his chart-topping single Blinding Lights triggered shockwaves throughout the music industry, with observers wondering how an artist so popular with fans and critics could be ignored for the industry's most prestigious prize while relatively obscure acts such as Jacob Collier and Black Pumas were showered with high-level nods.
According to the data-tracking firm BuzzAngle, After Hours has sold 460,000 copies and has racked up more than 1.7 billion streams – enough to make it the third-most-consumed album of the year. Blinding Lights, meanwhile, has been lodged in the top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100 since February.
Was the Weeknd "purposely excluded"?
In a statement, Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy's chairman and interim chief executive, said, "We understand that the Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated. I was surprised and can empathize with what he's feeling ... Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists."
The singer's reference to the Grammys' alleged corruption appeared to have been inspired by explosive claims made earlier this year by Mason's predecessor, Deborah Dugan, who said the academy's voting process was rigged by members of the organization to benefit friends and colleagues.
In an impassioned post on Tuesday, Lenny Beer, the well-connected editor in chief of the music-industry trade journal Hits, wrote, "There is no scenario in which this ubiquitous, mesmerizing, envelope-pushing artist with a heavenly voice and the best material of his career was simply overlooked by voters who, somehow, embraced artists we've never heard of."
Beer went on to conclude that the Weeknd was "purposely excluded" – precisely the type of accusation the embattled academy was seeking to avoid when it instituted a recent rule change requiring members of its secretive nominating committees to disclose any potential conflicts of interest they might have with artists competing for Grammys.
And make no mistake: The Weeknd, who's won three Grammys in the past, was most definitely campaigning this time, as evidenced by the numerous high-profile interviews he's sat for and his splashy appearances on other awards shows (including Sunday's American Music Awards).
In a thinly sourced report on Tuesday, TMZ alleged that the singer had been iced out by the academy because he'd angered executives while negotiating a deal to perform at both the Grammys ceremony on January 31 and the February 7 Super Bowl halftime show. Both will air on CBS.
Mason refuted that claim in his statement.
"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," Mason said.
"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."
Cover photo: imago images / ZUMA Press