The Grammys go virtual as Weeknd boycott sows new controversy

Alexandra Canal
·Producer
·3-min read

Another day, another Hollywood award show — and yet another polarizing controversy over who gets honored, and how they are selected.

Last week, singer The Weeknd joined a growing list of artists slamming the Grammys. He vowed to boycott the music industry's biggest night after citing the Recording Academy's "secret committees" and nomination processes, which he considers suspect.

“I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys," the 31-year-old said in a statement to The New York Times.

Currently, anonymous expert committees have the final say on Grammy nominations after reviewing submissions from the thousands of voting members who make up the Recording Academy. Yet the process has come under fire from artists describing it as outdated and lacking in transparency.

The Weeknd, whose album "After Hours" was highly praised by critics, was shut out from the nominations this year — including zero nods for his 2020 platinum single "Blinding Lights," which recently became the first song to remain on the Billboard Top 10 list for an entire year.

The Weeknd boycotts the Grammys after snub
The Weeknd boycotts the Grammys after snub

Other Black artists that have criticized the award show in recent years include Kanye West, Frank Ocean and Drake, with the latter saying a Grammys win "may no longer matter" following The Weeknd's snub. And just last week, former One Direction member Zayn Malik ripped the nomination process on Twitter, calling out the need to "shake hands and send gifts" to get nominations.  

Harvey Mason Jr., the interim president and CEO of the Recoding Academy, responded to The Weeknd's decision by saying the awards ceremony was "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 academy has made several efforts to improve its diversity, such as inviting over 2,300 music professionals to join its 2020 new member class — yet scandals have consistently plagued the non-profit group. Last year, then-CEO Deborah Dugan claimed she was fired after exposing allegations of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and a rigged Grammys voting process "ripe with corruption."

Grammys looks to tackle all-virtual show

Postponed from January due to the coronavirus pandemic, the all-virtual ceremony will air on Sunday and will feature both live and pre-recorded performances.

Performers include Taylor Swift, Cardi B, Dua Lipa, Harry Styles, BTS, Post Malone and many more.

2021 Grammy Award Performers
2021 Grammy Award Performers

Host Trevor Noah promised the three-hour award show would not be “pandemicky" — adding that the Recording Academy has "figured out how to make an awards show for the time as opposed to trying to crowbar an awards show into it. It’s not Zoom…The bands are sort of going to be performing for each other,” he said last week.

Beyonce leads the Grammy nominations with 9 total nods. Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and Roddy Rich follow Queen Bey with six nominations each.

Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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