To the list of artists who are unhappy about the Grammys this year, including “snubbed” artists like the Weeknd and Halsey, add Zayn Malik… for reasons that, even after he dropped F-bombs against the awards “and everyone associated,” remain somewhat mysterious.
One big difference between Malik and some of the previously aggrieved artists is that Malik didn’t have a release that could have been in contention this year, which has let to some vigorous Twitter arguments about whether the former One Direction member was aware of his ineligibility or not.
“Fuck the Grammys and everyone associated. Unless you shake hands and send gifts, there’s no nomination considerations,” Malik tweeted. “Next year I’ll send you a basket of confectionary.”
Many were quick to presume Malik was upset over the lack of Grammy recognition for his latest album, “Nobody Is Listening,” which debuted on the U.S. album chart earlier this year at No. 44. (It did better in his native UK, bowing there at No. 17.) The phrase “this year” is an operative one there; the window for eligibility for the 2021 Grammy Awards closed at the end of September, more than three and a half months before the release of the little noticed album.
Fuck the grammys and everyone associated. Unless you shake hands and send gifts, there’s no nomination considerations. Next year I’ll send you a basket of confectionary.
— zayn (@zaynmalik) March 9, 2021
Some of his fans were quick to defend him, contending that of course he knew his album was too new to be eligible, and that he was summoning hellfire down upon the Grammys and associated parties on behalf of all artists.
Other wondered if perhaps he was confusing the Grammys with the recently newsworthy Golden Globes; although the Grammys have hardly been without controversy of late, there were no events bringing artists and voting members together during this pandemic year, and the lack of a member directory would seem to be a buffer against gift-giving even if strict Academy prohibitions on lobbying and swag aren’t.
Still others wondered if an intra-Directional rift was involved. “Wait. Is this shade against @Harry_Styles???????” asked Perez Hilton, who’d earlier mocked Malik for not seeming to realize he wasn’t eligible, now proceeding to wonder if Malik had some issues with his former musical partner being nominated for three awards this year and having just been announced as one of the select few to get a performance slot on this Sunday’s telecast.
Malik returned to Twitter hours later to assert that his beef wasn’t about his own lack of historic nominations (whether with One Direction or solo, he hasn’t previously been put up for the awards, even in years where he had a release).
“My tweet was not personal or about eligibility,” Malik said, “but was about the need for inclusion and the lack of transparency of the nomination process and the space that creates and allows favoritism, racism, and networking politics to influence the voting process.”
Other music stars who’ve laid into the Grammys since the nominations were announced in November have been clear that there was some personal insult involved in their grievances, while pointing, as Malik did in his followup tweet, to what they believe to be more widespread problems.
“The Grammys remain corrupt,” the Weeknd tweeted after he came up with zero nominations. “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…” Halsey, also left out of this year’s Grammy nods, wrote that she “wanted to choose my words carefully because a lot of people have extended sympathy and apology to me since the Grammy nominations,” While I am thrilled for my talented friends who were recognized this year, I am hoping for more transparency or reform.”
It stands to reason from Tuesday’s tweets that Malik will not be tuning in Sunday to see Styles or anyone else — not even the six-times-nominated Taylor Swift, with whom he shared one of his biggest post-1D hits, 2016’s “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever.” Malik’s significant other, Gigi Hadid, has recently talked about having friendly conversations with and getting baby presents from Swift since the couple’s child was born in September.
The Grammys air Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/5 PT on CBS.