Going into this Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, it’s hard not to think of the artist many assumed would be a leading nominee this year, but who instead came up empty handed: The Weeknd.
Despite releasing one of the most acclaimed and successful albums of the year, After Hours, as well as “Blinding Lights,” a single so popular it’s still in the top 10 after an entire year, The Weeknd received exactly zero Grammy nominations. As a result, the star, born Abel Tesfaye, tells the New York Times in a statement, “I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.”
The reason, Weeknd added, is “because of the secret committees.” He’s referring to the anonymous Grammy committees who review the thousands of votes from all the Recording Academy members, and then make the final determination regarding who gets nominated in most of the categories. They can also, except for the top four categories, add names that were not selected by voters.
Nobody seems to know how The Weeknd got snubbed, but former Grammys head Deborah Dugan, who was removed after five months on the job, has maintained she was fired because she accused the committees, and the Academy, of conflicts of interest and voting improprieties. Her case is now in arbitration.
Asked about the snub earlier this week by Variety, interim Grammy chief Harvey Mason Jr. said, “It’s unfortunate…It’s not something any of us are happy about.”
The committees were established in 1989, reportedly to prevent the kind of embarrassment that happened in 1988. That’s when veteran progressive rock band Jethro Tull, who are decidedly not a metal band, won the very first Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental Grammy over AC/DC, Iggy Pop, Jane’s Addiction and Metallica.
By Andrea Dresdale
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