LOS ANGELES – Pop star the Weeknd has said he still won’t submit his music to the Grammy Awards, citing a lingering lack of confidence in the awards process despite a recent rule change that inspired his boycott.
The chart-topping singer was responding to rule changes for the Grammy Awards announced by the Recording Academy on Friday – primarily a change that eliminates “secret” nomination review committees.
This secret committee process likely played a key role in his exclusion from all nominations for the 2021 awards, despite one of the biggest albums and most released single of the year with “After Hours” and “Blinding Lights. “, respectively. .
“Trust has been broken for so long between the Grammy organization and the performers that it would be unwise to raise a victory flag,” Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, whose real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, told Variety the Weeknd. He added that he would continue to deny his music any consideration for awards.
However, he says the move is “an important start”.
“I think the industry and the public need to see the transparent system really in play for victory to be celebrated, but it’s an important start,” he continues. “I remain indifferent to being a part of the Grammys, especially with their own admission of corruption for all these decades. I will not submit in the future.”
His manager, Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, added: “No change comes without a voice heard. I’m just proud of Abel for standing up for what he believes in. I was in shock when it all happened. is produced, but now I see it clearly, and I’m glad we stood up for our beliefs. “
While there was no declared “admission of corruption” from the Grammys in announcing the rule change, in an interview with Variety on Friday night, interim Grammy chief Harvey Mason jr. said he had worked to eliminate committees for months before the snob Weeknd.
Mason declined to speculate whether this situation may have influenced the final decision – which was made by a vote of 44 members of the Academy’s board of directors – but there is no doubt that it played a role.
“Anytime an artist, especially an artist of this stature, questions our process or thinks something is unfair … the Academy is of course going to be affected by it and wants to work to make things better,” Mason said.
Representatives for the Recording Academy did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment early Monday.
When the Weeknd was surprisingly excluded from the 2021 nominations, many people, including the Weeknd and Slaiby, essentially said they believed self-interest on committees was the culprit – although there was no have no committee for the Pop category, one of three where he would have been a likely candidate.
However, Mason has repeatedly pointed out that this decision was the impartial decision of the nominating review boards. “There’s no agendas in there, there’s no ‘snub that person or that person’,” he told Variety after the nominations were announced in November. “It’s about ‘Let’s try to find excellence’.”
Despite these claims, some have speculated that the snub was due to opposition to the Weeknd scheduled to perform at both the Super Bowl and the Grammys – which were initially scheduled to be a week apart. However, all parties said the situation was successfully resolved, only to become moot when the Weeknd received no nominations.
“They engaged very strongly and at length with us to be a part of their show and then it all stopped,” Slaiby told Variety, adding that Mason “claimed he would look into it and get back to us. never heard a word back. on that one. “
While all music awards are inherently subjective, it was unprecedented for an artist to have achieved the levels of critical and commercial success that Weeknd’s album “After Hours” and single “Blinding Lights” did and not receive only one nomination.
As for what he would like to see next from the Academy – which is expected to announce a new president / CEO next month, with Mason stepping down from his interim role – Slaiby says, “I want to see a fair and responsible process put in place. and maintained to this new standard that is set out. This is their chance to give this iconic award back meaning and credibility.
“To the new CEO, I would just implore they manage well and step away from the old school politics that have plagued the Grammys for years. Be fresh and operate with honor.”
While the weekend calls the elimination of the Grammy nominations review boards “a positive start,” he also says there are bigger issues the music industry needs to grapple with.
The artist has donated millions of dollars to charities in recent months, including MusiCares, the Recording Academy charity, as well as $ 1 million in food aid to war-torn Ethiopia, the African country where his family is from.
“The industry can continue to mobilize to share its revenue to help those in need in various situations and to support marginalized communities who create and buy the music they sell,” he says. “We’ve seen movement there and I’m waiting and cheering for more. I care about making music that people love and helping out where I can.”
“Right now, I’m worried about what’s going on in my home country, Ethiopia, and I encourage people to be aware of what’s going on and to donate where they need it. can ”.
He also recently said he completed a possible album he recorded during the lockdown. When asked how this music could be different from “After Hours”, he replied, “If the last record is the afternoon of the night, then dawn is coming.”