Five of the Grammy Awards biggest upsets of all time: from The Beatles to Beyonce and The Weeknd

Despite dominating the chart for a whole year, The Weeknd is not nominated for any awards in 2021

Macklemore (R) and Ryan Lewis pose with their awards in the press room during the 56th Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on January 26, 2014.    AFP PHOTO/Joe KLAMAR (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
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For the Grammy Awards, this year was supposed to mark a great reset. Stung by criticism from musicians and dwindling television ratings, the annual ceremony countered accusations of irrelevancy by reviewing its nominations process.

In 2017, the Grammy Foundation announced it was diversifying its membership, in addition to setting up committees to ensure quality control and relevancy when it comes to nominations.

While the moves resulted in a line-up of eclectic and quality artists making the cut, more work is clearly left to be done before they truly capture the musical zeitgeist.

This was demonstrated as this year’s nominees were announced in November 2020.

Despite the inclusion of popular and powerful names such as Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, Beyonce and BTS, it is the omission of The Weeknd that overshadows an otherwise strong list.

After all, the Canadian RnB singer owned the last 12 months with both the blockbuster album After Hours and smash hit single Blinding Lights.

FILE - The Weeknd poses in the press room with the awards for best R&B performance for "Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)" and best urban contemporary album for "Beauty Behind The Madness" at the 58th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 15, 2016. The Weeknd had the No. 1 song of 2020 but “Blinding Lights” was not nominated for a Grammy Award. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
The Weeknd, who was snubbed in this year's Grammy Awards, won three awards back in 2016. AP

Blinding Lights is not only the first song to spend a whole year in the top 10 of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, but it also featured in what will arguably be one of the biggest concerts of 2021: February's Super Bowl half-time show.

Such feats were not enough, however, for the new and improved award committees, as The Weeknd – who already has three Grammy Awards to his name – didn’t receive a single nomination for one of the biggest winning streaks in modern pop music history.

Ironically, such a situation finds the star arguably topping another chart: the biggest snubs in the history of the Grammys.

Here are five other times when the Grammys failed to read the room.

1970: When Blood, Sweat & Tears pipped The Beatles and Johnny Cash

The first great outrage.

While Blood, Sweat & Tears are respected for fusing jazz with rock, they were mere men among immortals in competing for the Best Album Grammy.

The US group were up against The Beatles' White Album, Johnny Cash's At San Quentin and the self-titled release by Crosby Stills & Nash.

Blood, Sweat & Tears were supposed to make up numbers, but their eponymous album went on to snag the top prize.

Books have been written about the nominated works, while the eponymous album Blood, Sweat & Tears remains a footnote in the annals of rock music.

1984: When The Police said ‘Beat It’ to Michael Jackson

While we could make a strong case for Sting's classic Every Breath You Take deserving to win Song of the Year, remember that Michael Jackson had not one but two tracks nominated in 1984.

Jackson's Billie Jean and Beat It were also on the shortlist, alongside The Police's popular tune, which went on to win the trophy.

That said, the King of Pop did go home that night with eight Grammys, so perhaps the committee thought sharing is caring.

1985: When Lionel Richie overcame Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’

By this stage, the Grammy Awards were beginning to be viewed as out of touch when it came to the perception of quality.

Yes, Lionel Richie dominated the charts that year, but was his Can't Slow Down more worthy than bona fide classics Purple Rain by Prince and Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA for the Album of the Year award?

It’s enough to make you groan "all night long".

2014: When Macklemore and Lewis apologised for upstaging Kendrick Lamar

It was supposed to be a coronation for Kendrick Lamar, whose groundbreaking good kid, mAAd City album was up for seven Grammys.

Instead, he watched each category fall away as Macklemore and Lewis steamrolled that night with their release The Heist.

The reaction online was swift, and Macklemore even sent Lamar a text saying "you got robbed. I wanted you to win."

It was at this point that the Grammys feud with black artists threatened to go nuclear.

2017: When Adele and Beyonce triggered an existential crises

Queen Bey deserved an Emmy Award for her appearance at the Grammys that year. After all, it takes a certain level of grace and self control to see Adele's 25 win all major trophies over Beyonce's seminal Lemonade.

Once again, questions were raised about whether the award places more stock on commercial over culturally significant works.

The outcry regarding the decision – which included a classy gesture by Adele in dedicating her Album of the Year win to Beyonce – resulted in the Grammys rejigging its membership base and nominations procedure.

As we can see, this remains a work in progress.