The Weeknd's Grammys boycott continues, despite latest rule change: 'The trust has been broken'

The chart-topper says he still has no intention of submitting his music for award consideration

The Weeknd was snubbed by the Grammys despite dominating the US charts for more than a year. AP
The Weeknd was snubbed by the Grammys despite dominating the US charts for more than a year. AP

The Weeknd’s discord with the Grammy Awards is far from over.

Responding to the rule change the Recording Academy implemented on Friday, removing its anonymous nomination committees, The Blinding Lights artist said he still has no intention of submitting his music for award consideration.

The secret nomination-review committees likely played a part into why the Canadian singer-songwriter – real name Abel Tesfaye – was shut out from this year’s award ceremony, despite his album After Hours and single Blinding Lights dominating the US charts for more than a year.

“The trust has been broken for so long between the Grammy organisation and artists that it would be unwise to raise a victory flag,” The Weeknd told US magazine Variety. But the three-time Grammy winner added that it is “an important start” for the Recording Academy.

The Weeknd with his Grammys for best R&B performance for 'Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)' and best urban contemporary album for 'Beauty Behind The Madness' in 2016. AP
The Weeknd with his Grammys for best R&B performance for 'Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)' and best urban contemporary album for 'Beauty Behind The Madness' in 2016. AP

“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.”

The Weeknd’s manager Wassim “Sal” Slaiby also made a statement, saying: “No change comes without a voice heard. I’m just proud of Abel for standing up for what he believes in. I was in a shock when all this happened but now I see it clearly, and I’m glad we stood for our beliefs.”

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.

Harvey Mason Jr, interim Grammy head

The Weeknd first made his boycott explicit in March, telling the New York Times: “Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.”

Interim Grammy head Harvey Mason Jr told Variety that he had been working to eliminate the anonymous nominations committees months before the The Weeknd’s boycott. Though he declined to confirm whether the RnB singer’s boycott inspired Friday’s rule change, there is little doubt that it played a key role in the final decision.

“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,” he said.

Prior to the rule change, a nomination review committee of at least 20 music generalists selected the top eight nominees for the Grammy's top four awards – Album, Song and Record of the Year, along with Best New Artist.

But questions have loomed for years around the nominations process with music industry players calling for more transparency because the selection of finalists happens behind closed doors. Others have claimed that members of key nominating committees promote projects they worked on or projects they favour based on personal relationships.

Friday's rule change will now have the list of nominations be based purely on votes made by the academy's 11,000-plus voting members, and the academy said that “more than 90 per cent of its members will have gone through the requalification process by the end of this year, ensuring that the voting body is actively engaged in music creation."

“It’s been a year of unprecedented, transformational change for the Recording Academy, and I’m immensely proud to be able to continue our journey of growth with these latest updates to our awards process,” Mason Jr said on Friday.

“This is a new Academy, one that is driven to action and that has doubled down on the commitment to meeting the needs of the music community. While change and progress are key drivers of our actions, one thing will always remain – the Grammy Award is the only peer-driven and peer-voted recognition in music," he continued. “We are honoured to work alongside the music community year-round to further refine and protect the integrity of the awards process.”

With reporting by AP

Updated: May 4, 2021 03:25 PM

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