“Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys,” Abel Tesfaye told the New York Times, noting that he would boycott the Grammys going forward.
Even though After Hours was one of the year’s top-selling albums and the single “Blinding Lights” one of 2020’s hits — and despite the fact that the Grammys were reportedly in negotiations with the Weeknd to perform for this year’s Covid-impacted ceremony — Tesfaye didn’t receive a single nomination at the 2021 Grammys.
“The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans, and the industry transparency…,” the Weeknd tweeted in November 2020 after the nominations were announced. “Collaboratively planning a performance for weeks to not being invited? In my opinion zero nominations = you’re not invited!”
(Zayn Malik similarly criticized the Grammys voting body, tweeting earlier this week, “Fuck 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 confectionary… My tweet was not personal or about eligibility but was about the need for inclusion and the lack of transparency of the nomination process and the space that creates and allows favoritism, racism, and [networking] politics to influence the voting process.”)
In the lead-up to his Super Bowl halftime show, Tesfaye was critical of the Recording Academy and what he considered their flawed nomination process.
“If you were like, ‘Do you think the Grammys are racist?’ I think the only real answer is that in the last 61 years of the Grammys, only 10 black artists have won album of the year,” Tesfaye told Billboard. “I don’t want to make this about me. That’s just a fact.”
Tesfaye added in the Billboard interview: “Look, I personally don’t care anymore. I have three Grammys, which mean nothing to me now, obviously. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I want the Grammy!’ It’s just that this happened, and I’m down to get in front of the fire, as long as it never happens again. I suck at giving speeches anyways. Forget awards shows.”
In response to the Weeknd’s plan to boycott future Grammys, Recording Academy interim CEO 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.”