Not Everything That Glitters is Gold

The Weeknd’s Snub at the Grammys is not the only controversy the Awards have faced

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Janelle White

This is an illustration of the Weeknd being surprised that his Grammy award has disappeared. There has been speculation that The Weeknd might win big at the 2021 Juno Awards with his album After Hours and his hit single, “Blinding Lights.” The Juno Awards is a Canadian music award ceremony. Five years ago, he swept up the Juno Awards with his album Beauty Behind the Madness and his hit single, “Can’t Feel My Face.”

On November 25th, the Grammys released the coveted list of nominees for its annual music award ceremony. The Grammys are held every year to congratulate artists that have made a big impact in music. Many fans and critics alike were shocked that the Grammy Awards did not nominate prominent singer The Weeknd, despite his album After Hours being a success.

It was released on March 20, 2020 to critical acclaim, with hit singles such as “Blinding Lights” and “Heartless.” Due to him being snubbed, The Weeknd called the Grammy Awards “corrupt” and stated that they owe him, the industry, and his fans transparency. Also, the Grammy Awards were planning to have The Weeknd perform on the Grammy stage, despite him not being a nominated artist. The Weeknd then stated on his social media accounts that he believes no nominations equals no performance. Despite The Weeknd’s lack of nomination at this year’s Grammy Awards, he has won three Grammy awards for his past works and has dominated other prominent music award ceremonies, such as the AMAs (American Music Awards) and MTV VMAs (MTV Video Music Awards). 

Junior Julien Pineda talks about his thoughts on The Weeknd’s latest album After Hours and its impact in the music industry, “I have listened to this album and I have to say it’s not my personal favorite, because I prefer his older songs. However, it was a great album….I feel like this album has impacted the music industry not as much as it should’ve.”

Senior Reshman Amin states that this album is one of his preferred albums from The Weeknd. “I have listened to After Hours, and I really enjoyed the album. Honestly, my favorite album is Star Boy, so it doesn’t beat it, but it is a close second.”

There has been speculation that the new Weeknd music video released on January 5th, titled, “Save Your Tears,” is inspired by the controversial event.

Orchestra and Strings teacher Mr. O’rane describes The Weeknd’s album After Hours and how it compares to his previous work, “I am familiar with The Weeknd’s albums, particularly Star Boy. After Hours definitely has more of an 80s and new wave vibe to it. It has a lot of fat synths and warm saxtones. The album definitely has a nice feel to it. In comparison to what he [was] doing previously, it is just as melodic and embodies an older style of music. After Hours is definitely a capstone and a transformation event in The Weeknd’s career. Albeit, not a huge departure from the stuff he was doing previously. He did a great job of using modern singing and lyric writing elements, while staying true to 80s synthy tones.”

Amin gives a description of the feeling and sound that the album After Hours gives, “I think it is a chill vibe. His music really gets you thinking about certain situations, and his lyrics are very deep.”

Pineda states, “I believe it hasn’t impacted the music industry as much because it’s not really a ‘trend’ right now compared to other albums.”

Pineda believes that After Hours should have been nominated due to its prominence to consumers of music and the music industry. “I feel that this album should’ve been nominated, because it definitely was up there in the music world. Overall, I feel like they shouldn’t make a big deal who wins. It is important to artists to win, however it’s not life or death.”

Although Amin says that he does not really care about the Grammys, he states that The Weeknd should have at least been nominated. He also states, “He has a few hits on that album, like Heartless and In Your Eyes, but it’s all good as long as I can hear his music.”

Mr. O’rane believes that The Grammys are not in tune with the music community and its audience. “The Grammys [try] to lay [themselves] as a benchmark, as long as consumers and artists are happy with the outcomes of the awards ceremony. There are so many artists and different types of music. The Grammys should be retired, because they can’t keep up with the speed of the times. The Grammys no longer [hold] the benchmark of what is good listening music and what isn’t.”

There is speculation on why The Weeknd was not nominated. One of the reasons that might have kept him from being nominated is the changing of the Urban Contemporary genre to Progressive R&B. During the George Floyd protests, the Grammys changed the genre names, which did not do much to tackle the criticisms from artists, such as Tyler, The Creator and The Weeknd. The Weeknd said that R&B and Black music, in general, encompasses a lot of artists, so it would not be fair to discern who wins. 

Amin gives a reason as to maybe why the Grammys did not nominate him, “Maybe the people in the Grammys don’t appreciate his music even though it’s really good. I know he puts a lot of work into it.”

O’rane states, “He is more known as an R&B artist than a rapper. It seems that they are not able to widen a genre that is inclusive and incorporates his style. He needs a genre that is representative of his particular, niche sound.”

The Weeknd’s team was working with the Grammys on The Weeknd performing at the Grammy stage. Later, The Weeknd tweeted that he believes that no nominations equals no performance.

Amin agrees with The Weeknd’s tweet regarding performing at the Grammys. “I think he is telling the truth, because it’s his performance, not his awards that really show how great of an artist he is.”

O’rane also agrees with the response. “Why would you invite a world class artist and pop star to perform without recognizing his talents? That doesn’t make any sense.”

Recording Academy Chair and Interim CEO/President Harvey Mason Jr. has released a statement which addresses The Weeknd’s claim that the voting process for the Grammy Awards is corrupt. Mason stated that there are not enough nominations available for all the talented, praiseworthy artists. Mason disputed the claim that The Weeknd was not nominated because he was going to perform at the Super Bowl. He stated that their nominations process had ended before the announcement was made. 

Pineda believes that there was not any corruption involved in the Grammy Awards voting process. “Yes, there is corruption in everything, but just because people get what they want and you don’t agree with that means that there was corruption. It makes no sense.”

Amin says that Mason’s response is valid. “I think it’s a fair response, because The Weeknd was robbed of a nomination, because he doesn’t fail to make a good song.”

O’rane believes that there needs to be transparency in the voting process in The Grammys.

Pineda says that he does not have an opinion on how The Weeknd was supposed to perform at The Grammy Awards.

Former CEO of The Grammy Awards, Deborah Dugan, was ousted due to allegations of misconduct from Claudine Little, a female member of the Recording Academy team. Dugan was put in place as CEO of the Grammy Awards due to lack of gender diversity in the Recording Academy. Also, former CEO of the Grammys, Portnow, notoriously stated that women had to “set up” in order to be recognized by the Grammys. Portnow later stated that he was saddened that he made that claim, instead of addressing the inequalities that women face in music. The allegations from The Grammy Awards against Deborah Dugan were not disclosed to the press and they had investigators without ties to the Recording Academy interviewed 37 individuals and looked over various documents. Investigators found out that the allegations against Dugan were consistent with other allegations that were against her from other members of the Recording Academy. The Academy did not disclose what these allegations were about. Dugan stated that investigators never interviewed her about the allegations against her and disliked how they did not look into allegations against the Recording Academy, such as voting irregularities and conflict of interest. 

Deborah Dugan has filed a Discrimination complaint backed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the Grammy Awards, claiming many distressing accusations, including that former CEO of The Grammy Awards raped an artist in New York and that former Board chair and Academy’s general counsel, Joel Katz, sexually assaulted Dugan. Portnow has stated that there is an ongoing investigation that exonerates him from the rape allegations. 

Dugan also stated that the Grammys are male dominated and that there are backroom deals being made when it comes to voting nominations. 

Concerning Dugan’s allegations, Pineda says, “I do believe that males overrun the music industry and that women aren’t given enough credit when they should have more credit. I do think her allegations are of merit.”

Amin believes that Dugan has the right to file a lawsuit against The Grammys “and as long as she has the proper evidence to back it up…”

On Dugan’s lawsuit, O’rane says, “Dugan’s lawsuit checks out. People that are in consolidated positions want to keep their power. There is definitely an overarching patriarchy in the music industry and several other industries.”

Canadian rapper and artist Drake called out the Grammy Awards, saying that it might not be relevant anymore. He elaborates by saying that there is a disconnect between the Awards and prominent music. Drake was even surprised that The Weeknd wasn’t nominated for Album of the Year or Song of the Year. He states that it is time for someone else to create an awards show that replaces the Grammys, since they don’t seem to be changing their ways. He also tagged other artists that weren’t nominated, such as Pop Smoke and PartyNextDoor, saying that they should have been. 

Regarding Drake’s statement, Pineda states, “I do think that Drake’s statement is true because when someone is in something for a long time there are bound to be shady things going on. As for who to take over, I have no one in mind.”

Amin says “I think Drake has a fair point, because there’s a lot of good music out there that doesn’t get the recognition and credit that it deserves.”

Concerning the statement, O’rane says, “The Grammys may be using relevancy, due to them not being able to keep up with all different genres and artists.”

On who should create a new music ceremony that replaces The Grammys, Amin says, “I feel like someone who’s been in the music industry for a long time and that can actually understand what every artist goes through for making music should be the [creator] of the ceremony.”

O’rane details on who should create a new music award ceremony and how it should operate, “A united front of different record labels and distributors [should] create the new music ceremony. They would be able to get the metrics and data on which artists are the most popular.”

Other artists, such as Halsey and Nicki Minaj, have also called out the Grammy Awards. Halsey stated that there are background deals that are made, bribes, and that trying to make the Academy rich is emphasized more than quality and culture. Halsey did not specify what the bribes were in her Instagram statement. Halsey also said that The Weeknd and artists that did well deserved to be nominated. Nicki Minaj tweeted about how she is still upset over her loss to Folk group Bon Iver for Best New Artist during the 2012 Grammy Awards, saying that her race had something to do with her losing. 

Pineda thinks that there are background deals made in the Grammy Awards. “I do think that there are backroom deals going on, because it’s reality. I believe that the voting should be closely observed.”

Regarding Halsey’s claims of misconduct for the Grammys, Amin states, ”Each artist has a point, but I feel like in order to make a claim, they need evidence or some sort of statement that can back up their claim.”

Concerning the voting process of the Grammys, Amin says he does not really understand it. However, he also stated that it should be checked for rigging.

Amin believes the statement that Mason gave out on how the voting process is moral. “I agree with Mason’s statement that the process is ethical, because they’re not breaking any rules that we know of.”

The 2021 Grammys has been postponed for March 14th and many people are still reeling due to their favorite artists or themselves not being nominated for an award. Due to allegations of misconduct that have been attributed to the Grammys and for not recognizing influential music, there have been calls for a replacement of the Grammy Awards. Will another awards ceremony replace the Grammys? It has yet to be known.