The Weekend had a great 2020. His song “Blinding Lights” was the biggest selling track in the world last year. The song was everywhere, even sparking a TikTok dance trend. Critics liked his album After Hours, and fans loved it. After a year like 2020, one would think that when the Grammys came around The Weekend would be a shoo-in. But he was not nominated for a single award.
The Canadian star called the lack of recognition “an attack.” In a statement to the New York Times, he said that Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.”
The Weeknd is far from the first artist to become frustrated with the way The Grammy Awards work.
Back in 2012 Bon Iver won Best New Artist. Nicki Minaj was nominated in the same category and later noted that at the time, she had much more chart success and influence than he did.
The Grammy Awards have been criticized in the past for not giving artists of color the same level of recognition as their white counterparts. In 2020 the awards have been running for over 60 years but only ten black artists had ever won album of the year. Kanye West, Frank Ocean, and Drake have also publicly declined to submit their work for awards.
The problem stems largely from the mysterious process by which the winners are chosen. Of 83 categories, the winners of 72 are decided by review committees. These committees are anonymous and made up of so-called “experts.” Their role is to review the initial nominations made by the Recording Academy, the non-profit behind the awards. The academy is made up of thousands of music professionals. The organizers say that review panels are a check and balance to keep the awards fair. But artists find it suspicious that votes can be overturned by a small number of anonymous ‘experts’.
In response to The Weeknd’s statement, the Recording Academy’s acting chief executive Harvey Mason Jr. indicated that there may be a review of the process going forward.
“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.”