The integrity of the Grammy Awards has once again been questioned this year, with #Scammys trending on Twitter ahead of the 2021 ceremony on Sunday night.
The Recording Academy, which has a bit of a reputation of getting on the wrong side of some of the biggest names in music, was called out by The Weeknd earlier this year when the pop star – who is one of the biggest selling artists of the moment – was left off the nominations list.
The Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, called the lack of recognition for his 2020 album ‘After Hours‘ (which won him his second UK number one) “an attack,” announcing that he would boycott the Grammys by not submitting his music in the future. Speaking to the New York Times, the ‘Blinding Lights’ singer explained that he felt there was corruption within the nomination process.
“Because of the secret committees,” he told the publication, “I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.”
The Weeknd’s comments came earlier this week, months after he first tweeted “The Grammys remain corrupt,” when the 2021 nominations were revealed back in November. The committees he’s referring is a huge voting membership selected by the Recording Academy. They review the nominations and have the final say over the shortlist. But he’s not the first to criticise the way this committee works and what their decisions are based on.
Zayn Malik similarly called out the Recording Academy on Twitter this week, tweeting his disgust for the way things operate on Tuesday. “F*** the Grammys and everyone associated,” he wrote. “Unless you shake hands and send gifts, there’s no nomination considerations. Next year I’ll send you a basket of confectionary.”
He followed up with more tweets on Saturday, this time directing tagging the Recording Academy and stating that he was fighting for change against the “favouritism, racism and networking politics [that] influence the voting process.”
Zayn, who has never personally been nominated for a Grammy, tweeted: “@recordingacad are moving in inches and we need to move in miles. I’m keeping the pressure on & fighting for transparency & inclusion. We need to make sure we are honoring and celebrating “creative excellence” of ALL.” End the secret committees. Until then … #fuckthegrammys”
His sentiment has been shared by many other artists in the past, including Drake, Frank Ocean and Ariana Grande who have all been critical of the Grammys in recent years – critiques that are incredibly valid, considering the fact that the last black artist to win album of the year was Herbie Hancock in 2008, for River – his tribute to Joni Mitchell.
Reacting to the backlash, Grammys interim president 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.”
The decision to exclude The Weeknd in this year’s line up of nominees was a particularly bizarre move – one that has also led to many anti-Grammys conversations on Twitter and rightly so. Not only did the Canadian star perform at this year’s Superbowl Half Time show but ‘After Hours’ broke multiple chart records and received critical acclaim following its release, so frankly, his snub makes no sense at all if the Grammys are what they say they are: an accolade recognising the biggest music released of the year.
While it’s disappointing, it’s certainly no surprise. The Grammys has a long-standing history of of recognising people of color in the top awards. Till this day, the last Black woman to win a major category is Lauryn Hill in 1999. Will The Weeknd’s boycott force the Recording Academy to make the overdue structural changes they so desperately need? Only time will tell. But one thing’s for sure, the longer this continues, the more irrelevant the accolade will become.