He’s boycotting the Grammy Awards because his album, After Hours, was majorly snubbed by the recording academy. But his protest isn’t about ego. It’s a response to what he called the “corrupt” Grammys voting system that decides who gets nominated, who wins, and who “matters” in music.
How many Grammys does The Weeknd have?
The Weeknd (given name Abel Tesfaye) has been a chart-topping artist for years now. His early singles “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills” skyrocketed his popularity.
The 31-year-old has won three Grammys in his time. His first wins were in 2016, when “Earned It” won Best R&B Song and Beauty Behind the Madness won Best Urban Contemporary Album. Starboy won Best Urban Contemporary Album in 2018. In February 2021, he headlined the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
The star has been nominated for 10 Grammys, including Album of the Year. But he’s never won the top categories. Many thought After Hours would win him Album of the Year.
Why was The Weeknd snubbed at the Grammys?
After Hours was his first album not to get any nominations since 2016. He called the snub a “sucker punch.” As he told Billboard:
“It just kind of hit me out of nowhere. I definitely felt … I felt things. I don’t know if it was sadness or anger. I think it was just confusion. I just wanted answers. Like, ‘What happened?’ We did everything right, I think. I’m not a cocky person. I’m not arrogant. People told me I was going to get nominated. The world told me. Like, ‘This is it; this is your year.’ We were all very confused.”
So, why did this happen? “Blinding Lights” spent an entire year on the Billboard Hot 100 top 10—the first song in history to do so. With success like that, it seems natural that a Grammy would follow. The whole point of the ceremony is to reward the most influential people in music, no?
The Weeknd has a theory.
“Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys,” he told The New York Times.
The Grammys does have secret committees that run the voting process. Every year, musicians submit their music for consideration in the various categories, and then the thousands of academy members vote. The committees then review the votes and have the power to go against them if they disagree.
The Weeknd is boycotting the Grammys from now on
Halsey called out her Grammys snub and The Weeknd’s after the nominations came out, saying that it’s a highly political process. As she wrote on Instagram:
“The Grammys are an elusive process. It can often be about behind the scenes private performances, knowing the right people, campaigning through the grapevine, with the right handshakes and ‘bribes’ that can be just ambiguous enough to pass as ‘not-bribes.'”
Only 10 Black musicians won Album of the Year in the history of the Grammys. Halsey, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Zayn Malik, Frank Ocean, and Drake have all called the Grammys political, dated, and corrupt because of this.
The Weeknd went even further and told Billboard that his three wins “mean nothing to me now.” He also revealed that he was planning an epic Grammys performance up until the nominations came out.
The Weeknd’s manager, Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, told Billboard that it’s time for an overhaul of the system.
“What is that secret committee? What the f*ck?” he said, adding that “they cancel the f*cking secret committee and become full transparency.”
“The Grammys should handle their legacy and clean it up to raise the bar to a level where everyone could be proud to hold up that award,” Slaiby continued. “This is [Harvey Mason Jr.’s] chance to step up and have his legacy be the guy who got the Grammys finally right.”