The Weeknd calls Grammys ‘corrupt,’ boycotts awards amid rule change
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Are the Grammys rigged? The Weeknd leads pack of artists claiming corruption
The Weeknd said “the dawn is coming” with his forthcoming album.
But when it comes to the Starboy’s somber feelings about the Grammys — it’s still dusk.
Doubling down on his deep-rooted disdain for the Recording Academy, the three-time Grammy Award winner again deemed the institution “corrupt,” despite its recent vow to no longer choose nominations via small committees of anonymous members.
“The trust has been broken for so long between the Grammy organization and artists that it would be unwise to raise a victory flag,” The Weeknd, 31, told Variety of the academy’s dissembling of the “secret” committees.
Before getting the boot Friday, 15 to 30 music-industry executives were charged with finalizing the top eight Grammy nominees in major categories, including Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist.
But for this year’s Grammys, the academy completely shut out The Weeknd — real name Abel Tesfaye — blocking his double-platinum “After Hours” album and hit single “Blinding Lights” from a single nod in any category.
Following the snub, the Canadian native vowed to abstain from participating in the awards ceremony.
And while he sees the new change to the Grammys’ nomination-selection process as an “important start,” the “Save Your Tears” singer is abiding by his boycott.
“I think the industry and public alike need to see the transparent system truly at play for the win to be celebrated, but it’s an important start,” he said.
“I remain uninterested in being a part of the Grammys, especially with their own admission of corruption for all these decades. I will not be submitting in the future.”
Although the Recording Academy did not make a formal “admission of corruption” in its rule-update announcement last week, Grammys interim president Harvey Mason Jr. said The Weeknd’s harsh criticism inspired change in the organization.
“Any time an artist, especially one of that stature, calls our process into question or thinks something is unfair … the academy is of course going to be affected by that, and want to work to make things better,” Mason told Variety.
When The Weeknd failed to garner any Grammy nods ahead of this year’s awards in March — originally scheduled for Jan. 31 — many speculated that the slight was due to the singer’s headlining performance at the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 7.
But Mason denied those claims to Rolling Stone, saying, “Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists.
He added: “To be clear, voting in all categories ended well before The Weeknd’s performance at the Super Bowl was announced, so in no way could it have affected the nomination process.”
Mason will be stepping down as president/CEO next month, making way for the next official Recording Academy head. So far, his successor has not been announced.
But The Weeknd’s manager, Wassim “Sal” Slaiby has high hopes for the incoming regime.
“I want to see a fair and accountable process be put into place and held to that new standard that is set forth,” Slaiby said.
“To the new CEO, I would just implore that they run this right and step away from old-school backdoor politics that have plagued the Grammys for years,” he continued.
“Be fresh and operate with honor.”
As for The Weeknd — who was born to Ethiopian immigrants, and just recently donated $1 million toward Ethiopian relief efforts amid violence in the country — he hopes to see more change in both the entertainment industry and the world at large.
“I care about making music that people love and helping where I can,” he said. “Right now my concern is what’s happening in my home country of Ethiopia and encourage people to be aware of what is happening and donate where they can.”
And when it comes to blessing fans with some more chart-topping jams, The Weeknd is planning the release of an “After Hours” follow-up album that he composed during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“If the last record is the after hours of the night, then the dawn is coming,” he said.
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