Although The Grammys has decided to open up the nomination process for the big four categories (Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist), The Weeknd will still be boycotting the award ceremony in the future. He stated that he saw the rule change as a step in the right direction, but still views the voting process as corrupt.
The Weeknd, aka Abel Tesfaye, told The New York Times, “Even though I won’t be submitting my music, the Grammys’ recent admission of corruption will hopefully be a positive move for the future of this plagued award and give the artist community the respect it deserves with a transparent voting process.” Tesfaye is not the only artist to have pointed out problems the ceremony has been having with inclusion. His accusations follow those made by artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Drake and Frank Ocean, among others.
Their criticism of The Grammys is based on the committee’s old system of inviting anonymous music professionals to narrow the nominations for 61 of the event’s 84 categories down to the nominations which eventually make the ballot. While this process began in 1989 with the idea to maintain the nominations’ integrity, many musicians, especially Black artists, claim that their wins have been confined to genre-based categories instead of the big four. Notably, out of Beyoncé’s record-breaking 28 career Grammy wins, only one of them was in a big four category – “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” won Song of the Year in 2010.
While The Grammys Association just announced plans to allow all of their ~11,000 members who are still active in the music industry to vote on the nominations for the big four categories, as well as all genre categories, anonymous committees will still be used for “craft” categories such as Producer, Packaging and Liner Notes. Another recent attempt to make their process less problematic was the decision the association made just last year to make committee members sign disclosure forms in order to prevent conflicts of interest.
Tesfaye had announced his intention to boycott The Grammys in November 2020 after his widely popular album After Hours didn’t receive any Grammy nominations. Not only was the album critically acclaimed and an RIAA multi-platinum record, his hit single off it, “Blinding Lights,” is the only song to have ever remained in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 for a full year. The Weeknd was also the featured act during the 2020 Super Bowl Halftime Show.
“The trust has been broken for so long between the Grammy organization and artists that it would be unwise to raise a victory flag,” Tesfaye added in a separate statement to Variety, “I think the industry and public alike need to see the transparent system truly at play for the win to be celebrated, but it’s an important start. I remain uninterested in being a part of the Grammys, especially with their own admission of corruption for all these decades. I will not be submitting in the future.”
Photo credit: Raymond Flotat