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Why has everyone been hating on The Grammys this year?


by Jennifer McShane
15th Mar 2021

instagram @taylorswift

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Many have been known to make fun of The Grammys (The Simpsons used to do it every chance they got), but the awards geared to honour the music industry has got some especially bad press of late – of its own doing. Here’s a rundown of what’s gone wrong…

This year might have been a rocky one thanks to the pandemic, but happily, the music industry has remained at the top of its game:  From Taylor Swift’s new indie-folk sound on her surprise album, Folklore, to Dua Lipa and The Weeknd making us all want to dance (even via our living rooms), music has been the escapism that has given us some much-needed respite from the woes of the world.

The Recording Academy hasn’t had great press of late and to start when they announced the nominations for the 2021 Grammys this many fans and artists were not impressed.

The Album of the Year mess

Notably absent from Album of the Year was Fiona Apple’s lauded Fetch the Bolt Cutters, as well as anything from The Weeknd – he’s been serving bops all 2020 and is deserving of recognition.

He was very vocal about his unhappiness at both Blinding Lights as well as his subsequent album being left out of the race.

“The Grammys remain corrupt,” The Weeknd tweeted a few hours after the nominations were announced. “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.” Rumours had circulated that the snub could be due to the rumoured ultimatum given between performing at the Super Bowl or the awards themselves – which was denied by The Grammys.

“We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated. I was surprised and can empathise 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,” Recording Academy Chair Harvey Mason, Jr said in a statement shared with Variety.

Last week The Weeknd said that he will no longer submit his music for Grammy consideration, following in the footsteps of the likes of Kanye West and Frank Ocean, who has both refused to enter their work, feeling that the institution is outdated and irrelevant. The Weeknd received support from the likes of Drake, who on Insatgram stories that it is time to “build something new”, while Zayn Malik was a little more colourful in his criticism.

While his album Nobody is Listening is not eligible until the 2022 Grammys, Tweeting, “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.”

Category mix-ups

Justin Bieber was vocal about the fact that his album Changes was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album. “I am very meticulous and intentional about my music,” he wrote on Instagram. “With that being said I set out to make an R&B album. Changes was and is an R&B album. It is not being acknowledged as an R&B album which is very strange to me. I grew up admiring R&B music and wished to make a project that would embody that sound. For this not to be put into that category feels weird considering from the chords to the melodies to the vocal style all the way down to the hip hop drums that were chosen it is undeniably, unmistakably an R&B album!”

A rocky year

In January 2020, its former president and CEO Deborah Dugan, was placed on administrative leave five months after taking over for Neil Portnow in August 2019, and 10 days ahead of the 2020 Grammys; in March, she was fired, after allegations of misconduct from a female colleague who allegedly claimed Dugan verbally abused her.

Dugan denied the claims and countered that with a 44-page legal complaint alleging sexual harassment and voting corruption within the academy, detailing “egregious conflicts of interest” and a “boys’ club” mentality. She also claimed that her predecessor Neil Portnow sexually assaulted unnamed female recording artist, an allegation he called “ludicrous and untrue” in response.