The Weeknd, who began sounding off on social media on Tuesday night over his being shockingly shut out of Grammy nominations in a year he dominated, kept up his criticism on Wednesday afternoon, posting a statement on Instagram that reads:
“Collaboratively planning a performance for weeks to not being invited? In my opinion zero nominations = you’re not invited!”
What that refers to, sources tell Variety, is the following:
Along with most of the rest of the world, The Weeknd’s team and Grammy organizers assumed that he would be one of the year’s biggest nominees and were in advanced discussions about his performance on the show. However, the negotiations became fraught when he was also offered the Super Bowl halftime spot, which takes place a week after the Grammys.
Sources say the discussion became contentious and prolonged, but eventually it was agreed that he could perform on both shows — only to find out on Tuesday morning, along with the rest of the world, that he’d received no nominations at all.
Not surprisingly, after weeks of laborious and doubtless expensive (considering that attorneys were probably involved) negotiations, the team’s reaction was said to be an exceedingly angry “Are you kidding me?,” and suspected that the move was some form of revenge. However, that theory is complicated by the fact that sources say the two sides had come to an agreement and The Weeknd would be sure to draw many viewers to the show, so apart from pure spite, the Recording Academy would have no real motive to do such a thing.
However, The Weeknd and his team went on social media late Tuesday, calling the Grammys “corrupt” and demanding transparency. That got a more detailed response from Grammy chief Harvey Mason, jr., than he had given previously, including when he was questioned extensively by Variety on the matter on Monday.
He wrote, “We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated,” he continues. “I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling. His music this year was excellent, and his contributions to the music community and broader world are worthy of everyone’s admiration. We were thrilled when we found out he would be performing at the upcoming Super Bowl and we would have loved to have him also perform on the Grammy stage the weekend before.
“Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists. But as the only peer-voted music award, we will continue to recognize and celebrate excellence in music while shining a light on the many amazing artists that make up our global community. 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.”
Which is essentially saying that the nominations and the show are not connected — a stance supported by the fact that the Grammys had nothing to win by not having The Weeknd perform.
But it still leaves open the question of how the most commercially and critically successful artist of the year possibly could have been completely overlooked by the entire Grammy nominating body. The growing attention around the issue only shines more light on that question.
In an interview with Variety on Monday, Mason stood by the Grammy nominating process, even in light of such an egregious omission.
“I don’t think this calls it into question, honestly,.” he said. “The process is there so we can continue to monitor excellence. I was in the “core room” this year [which decides the Big Four] and I observed, and the people that were in it are music professionals — they are excellent, at the top of their craft in songwriting and producing, and there are a lot of artists. They were critically listening to every song that came across their desks — or virtual desks — so I don’t think it shows a flaw in the process.”
Earlier on Friday, Elton John weighed in via Instagram, saying that “Blinding Lights” is both the top song and record of the year, in his opinion, adding “#GrammySnub.”