The Weeknd is demanding that his record label no longer submit any of his music for further Grammy consideration after his After Hours album was completely snubbed by the Recording Academy. With the 63rd annual Grammys only four days away, the singer — real name Abel Tesfaye, told the New York Times on Mar. 11, “Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.” In response, the Recording Academy’s interim chief executive Harvey Mason Jr. said in a statement, “We’re all disappointed when anyone is upset,” but that “we are constantly evolving.”
Abel, 31, made it known when Grammy nominations were revealed on Nov. 24, 2020 how livid he was that his After Hours album and the songs off of it — including the year’s biggest single “Blinding Lights” — resulted in zero nominations. “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans, and the industry transparency…,” The Weeknd tweeted at the time.
He also hinted that he had already been planning his Grammy performance “for weeks” until he learned of the massive nominations snub. Abel took that as a sign that he wasn’t welcomed at the 2021 awards ceremony. “Collaboratively planning a performance for weeks to not being invited? In my opinion zero nominations = you’re not invited!” The Weeknd tweeted.
The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) November 25, 2020
Collaboratively planning a performance for weeks to not being invited? In my opinion zero nominations = you’re not invited!
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) November 25, 2020
At the time there had been controversy about whether or not The Weeknd being named the Super Bowl LV Halftime show performer had something to do with his across the board Grammys snub. The awards show was originally supposed to go down on January 31, 2021 live from Los Angeles’ Staples Center, just one week prior to the Feb. 7 Super Bowl in Tampa Bay, FL. On Jan. 5, the Recording Academy announced the Grammys had been moved to Mar. 14, due to a resurgence of COVID cases in L.A.
Mason Jr. released a statement to the media on Nov. 24 after Abel protested his lack of nominations, and responded to the singer’s Twitter accusations. “There were a record number of submissions in this unusual and competitive year. We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated. 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,” it read.
Mason Jr. continued, “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.” He then added, “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. All Grammy nominees are recognized by the voting body for their excellence, and we congratulate them all.”
Abel has felt Grammy appreciation in the past with three wins. Which is why it was so surprising that following After Hours‘ widespread praise among critics as his best work, the album and it’s contents received no love from the Recording Academy in any categories. Abel had previously picked up trophies in 2016 for Best Urban Contemporary Album for The Beauty Behind The Madness, and Best R&B Performance for “Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey).” In 2018 Abel won his third Grammy, taking home Best Urban Contemporary Album for Starboy. He told Billboard in a Jan. 28, 2021 interview that the awards now “mean nothing” to him.
“Look, I personally don’t care anymore. I have three Grammys, which mean nothing to me now, obviously,” Abel explained. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, I want the Grammy!’ It’s just that this happened, and I’m down to get in front of the fire, as long as it never happens again. I suck at giving speeches anyways. Forget awards shows.”
Abel added about his Grammys snub, “I use a sucker punch as an analogy, because it just kind of hit me out of nowhere. I definitely felt…things. I don’t know if it was sadness or anger. I think it was just confusion. I just wanted answers. Like, ‘What happened?’ We did everything right, I think. I’m not a cocky person. I’m not arrogant. People told me I was going to get nominated. The world told me, like, ‘This is it; this is your year.’ We were all very confused.”