The Weeknd is doubling down against the Grammys after already criticizing the organization as "corrupt" when his acclaimed album After Hours was snubbed by the Recording Academy in November. In a new statement released Thursday, the "Blinding Lights" singer said he will no longer allow his record label to even submit his music for awards consideration. The Weeknd specifically pointed to the secretive and anonymous expert committees that that review nomination choices by the music professionals who are members of the Recording Academy before the final nominations are announced.
"Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys," The Weeknd told The New York Times. In response, the Recording Academy's interim chief executive, Harvey Mason Jr., told the Times the group was "disappointed when anyone is upset." Mason added, "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."
After the Recording Academy announced the nominees for the 2021 Grammys in November, The Weeknd's fans and everyone who listened to music in the past year were all stunned when After Hours and "Blinding Lights" received no nominations at all. The album and single were considered two of the best releases in the past year. "The Grammys remain corrupt," The Weeknd tweeted at the time. "You owe me, my fans, and the industry transparency."
Mason even responded to the outrage, which came just as The Weeknd was named the 2021 Super Bowl halftime show performer. The Recording Academy insisted this had nothing to do with The Weeknd's snubs, even though the Grammys were originally scheduled for the weekend before the game. "For The Weeknd, in every year you only have a certain amount of people you can nominate for each category," Mason told Billboard. "In my experience, it's not really been about trying to even the playing field for every different group and make sure that everyone's included. It's really about trying to highlight quality and excellence."
On Thursday, The Weeknd's manager, Wassim Slaiby, told the Times he still has no idea why After Hours was not nominated. "We were many weeks and dozens of calls in with the Grammy team around Abel's performance right up to the day of nominations being announced," Slaiby said. "We were scratching our heads in confusion and wanted answers." He added that The Weeknd's stance should inspire other artists to speak out. "This is Harvey's chance to step up and have his legacy be the guy who got the Grammys finally right," he said of Mason.
The Weeknd's situation highlights the controversy surrounding the expert committees. These groups have the final say on 61 of the 84 Grammys categories. The Recording Academy defended this system by saying it preserves the integrity of the Grammys, but artists believe it is a way to avoid honoring the will of most voters. The identities of the committee members are kept a secret, and the system has been in place since 1989.
The Grammys were originally scheduled for Jan. 31 but were postponed until Sunday due to ot the coronavirus pandemic. The show starts at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.