Pop star will no longer allow his music to be submitted to the show
Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, has shared he’s permanently boycotting the GRAMMYs due to a “secret committee” which he believes is flawed. The Canadian pop star is citing the anonymous panel of experts who review the initial nominations. Those nominations are submitted by thousands of music industry professionals who make up the voting membership of the Recording Academy.
“Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the GRAMMYs,” he tells The New York Times.
After having one of the biggest albums of 2020 with After Hours, The Weeknd’s name was surprisingly left off the 63rd Annual GRAMMY nominations list when they were unveiled in late November. Shortly thereafter, the pop star lashed out at the Recording Academy on social media, calling them “corrupt” for the snub.
“The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…” he writes on Twitter.
The backlash is believed to have stemmed from an ultimatum by GRAMMY execs in which The Weeknd was forced to choose between performing at the GRAMMYs — initially scheduled for January but postponed to this weekend due to the pandemic — or performing at the Super Bowl Halftime Show in early February. Sources claim testy negotiations led to an agreement where Tesfaye could perform at both prestigious events, however, it’s suspected his decision to perform at the Super Bowl cost him GRAMMY nominations due to bitter back-and-forth talks that GRAMMYs honchos didn’t like.
In addition, Drake, Kanye West and Frank Ocean are among the black stars who have spoken out about the lack of diversity among the organization. The Recording Academy claims to be dedicated to “celebrating, honoring, and sustaining music’s past, present and future” while representing equality across gender, race and voice to ensure “music remains diverse and inclusive.”
Songwriter and producer Harvey Mason Jr., who’s acting as the Recording Academy’s Interim Chief Executive, says he’s aware of The Weeknd’s stance on the matter and says the organization is reviewing its nomination process.
“We’re all disappointed when anyone is upset, but I will say that we are constantly evolving,” Mason shares. “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.”
Less than a dozen black artists are among the many nominees at this year’s show. Among those, Beyoncé leads with nine, Roddy Ricch with six, Brittany Howard with five and DaBaby and Megan Thee Stallion each with four.
In less than a decade, The Weeknd has amassed a global fanbase, become a multi-award winning artist, and recently, was named one of the most influential people of 2020 by Time Magazine. Regarded for his creative vision, The Weeknd is known for his genre-bending music and redefining storytelling, both sonically and visually.
After Hours is The Weeknd’s fourth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, earning 138,000 equivalent album units within the first week of sales, according to Nielsen Music/MRC. Every song from After Hours achieved placement on Billboard’s Hot 100, with “Alone Again” peaking at No. 24 and “Blinding Lights” having recently been named the first song ever to spend a full year in the Top 10 of the Billboard Top 200 chart.
After Hours was released to massive critical and fan acclaim in early 2020 and has been crowned the year’s biggest release, earning over two billion global streams and nearly two million in global consumption. After Hours has become the No. 1 R&B streaming album of all time, breaking the record previously held by his own 2016 release, Starboy. The artist now holds the No. 1 and No. 2 top streaming R&B albums of all time with After Hours and Starboy.
The pop star’s music surged 385% following his Super Bowl performance and sold nearly one million tickets to his recently announced After Hours 2020 World Tour. The trek kicks off in January before wrapping in November with a handful of dates shifting from 2021 to 2022.
Upon its release in February, The Highlights became Spotify’s most streamed album of all time.