Sources Close to The Weeknd Believe Grammys Snubbing Was Retaliation for Playing Super Bowl

The Canadian crooner is set to headline the Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 7th -- one week after the Grammys take place

The Weeknd
The Weeknd, photo courtesy of artist

    Sources close to The Weeknd believe his shocking Grammys snubbing was not an oversight by the Recording Academy, but rather an act of retaliation.

    The Canadian crooner’s fourth album, After Hours, is one of the year’s biggest releases — both commercially and critically. Going into yesterday, a nomination for Album of the Year felt like a lock. The smash After Hours single “Blinding Lights” was also expected to receive consideration for Song of the Year and Record of the Year. But ultimately, The Weeknd was completely shut out of the general music categories. He also failed to receive a single nomination in the genre-specific categories.

    How was this possible? Sources close to The Weeknd believe the Recording Academy sought revenge after the singer agreed to headline the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show, which made his scheduled performance at the Grammys less exclusive.

    “There were many conversations between the Grammys and The Weeknd team about his performance slated for the 2021 Grammys. There was an ultimatum given resulting in a struggle over him also playing the Super Bowl that went on for some time and was eventually agreed upon that he would perform at both events,” those sources say. “The Grammys had their nomination ballots as of October 12th and had all these convos with The Weeknd team in the past month, and today on November 24th, The Weeknd had not one nomination and is now completely ignored by the Grammys. This was the year that they were supposed to rise up. What is the process and where is the transparency?”


    The Weeknd offered a much more blunt assessment on Twitter: “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency,” he tweeted on Thursday night. Update: In a follow-up tweet on Friday, The Weeknd said he would not be appearing or performing at the Grammys: “Collaboratively planning a performance for weeks to not being invited? In my opinion zero nominations = you’re not invited!”

    Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy’s chair and interim president/CEO, denied that The Weeknd’s Super Bowl performance had any impact on nominations (or lack thereof). “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,” Mason said in a statement. “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.”

    The word “announced” jumps out, as surely the Recording Academy was well aware of The Weeknd’s Super Bowl performance long before the news was made public. As the Academy was having its own negotiations with the singer about potential performing at the Grammys, a panel met on October 12th for an initial round of voting and then finalized the nominees on October 27th and 28th.


    Additionally, the Academy confirmed to Billboard that The Weeknd’s team entered After Hours in the progressive R&B category, but over the course of the screening process, the album was moved to the much more pop category. Beyond being a much more crowded field than the R&B category, the pop category does not have its nominations reviewed by a committee — but are rather based solely on votes.

    In a follow-up interview with Billboard, Mason said he was “saddened” to hear about The Weeknd’s characterization of events. “I can understand he’s disappointed [at being shut out],” Mason said. “Everybody at the academy understands that he’s disappointed. I was personally surprised that he was not nominated.”

    Mason also again emphasized that The Weeknd’s lack of nominations had nothing to do with the Super Bowl. “First of all, the Super Bowl performance is [one week] after our show, so at no time would we be upset if he were to perform on the Super Bowl… Our show producer, Ben Winston, and CBS had some preliminary conversations. We would have loved to have him on our stage. I think he was working toward that happening.”


    The 2021 Grammy Awards take place January 31st, 2021. The Super Bowl goes down one week later on February 7th.


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