The official nominations for the 2021 Grammy Awards are here, and some celebrities are not happy with them. Yep, while a few stars are up for a Grammy for first time in their career — including Harry Styles and BTS — others, like Niall Horan, The Weeknd and Nicki Minaj, have taken to social media to share their frustration after they were “snubbed” from the list of nominees. The Weeknd is leading the charge.
The Weeknd’s Career and Life
Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, has been a rising star in the music world for years now. Born February 16, 1990 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Tesfaye was raised by his mother and grandmother who immigrated to Canada from Ethiopia. Tesfaye dropped out of school in grade 11 and dove headfirst into the world of partying; sex, drugs, and music. Much of The Weeknd’s music tells the autobiographical story of the years he spent experimenting with the wild side of life.
In the years following his departure from high school, Tesfaye met musician and producer Jeremy Rose. The pair worked together and produced music that gained some traction after being uploaded to YouTube, but really took off after being shared on the blog of Canadian rapper Drake.
With Drake’s attention Tesfaye was able to expand his professional circle. He released House of Balloons, a nine song free mix tape that was tapped for Canada’s Polaris Music Prize. In July of 2011, Tesfaye made his first public performance in a nightclub as The Weeknd.
The Toronto native released two more free mix tapes, then partnered with Republic Records in 2012. Tesfaye released a studio remix of the three mix tapes and it met with great success, but his next release was met with lukewarm approbation.
A shrewd businessman, Tesfaye knew it was time to capitalize on the strength of his connections. He appealed to his record label for help on his next pieces. This effort yielded collaborations with Max Martin and Ariana Grande. Tesfaye and Grande’s duet, “Love Me Harder,” rose to the top 10 in music charts.
Per Brittanica, “In 2016 The Weeknd won Canada’s Juno Award for artist of the year for the second consecutive year, as well as four other Junos, including album of the year. He also won Grammy Awards for best R&B performance for ‘Earned It,’ and Beauty Behind the Madness took the award for best urban contemporary album. In addition, ‘Earned It,’ which was included on the sound track of the film Fifty Shades of Grey (2015), was nominated for an Academy Award in 2016.”
Tesfaye Turns His Passion To Other Causes
Tesfaye isn’t only passionate about his music, he’s also passionate about Black Lives Matter and the way the music industry profits off of Black music more than the artists themselves. On June 2nd of this year, a number of artists, companies, and social media influencers called for #BlackoutTuesday to pause business as usual for a day to reflect on how better to support the Black community.
Tesfaye took exception to this tactic. Per Rolling Stone, “‘To my fellow respected industry partners and execs — no one profits off of black music more than the labels and streaming services,” the Weeknd wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “I gave yesterday and I urge you to go big and public with yours this week. It would mean the world to me and the community if you can join us.’
On Monday, the singer donated $200,000 to Black Lives Matter Global Network, $200,000 to Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp Legal Defense initiative and $100,000 to National Bail Out, which he shared on Instagram.
‘Keep supporting our brothers and sisters out there risking everything to push for actual change for our black lives,’ he wrote. ‘Urging everyone with big pockets to give and give big and if you have less please give what you can even if it’s a small amount.’”
After Hours is Met with Praise
Tesfaye’s 2020 album, After Hours, was met with praise from across the industry. A brilliant compendium of life experiences and film noir references, After Hours broke records as it became the top album on Apple music’s pre-adds, nudging Billie Eilish off the throne.
A song from the album, Blinding Lights, even broke Post Malone‘s historic Hot 100 Chart longevity record, after spending over 40 weeks in the top 10. So it seemed that After Hours was a shoe-in for the Grammy’s this year.
Of After Hours, the Weeknd is quoted as saying, “You can find love, friends, enemies, violence, dancing, sex, demons, angels, loneliness, and togetherness all in the After Hours of the night.”
An Ultimatum, Battle with the NFL, and a Snub
After Tesfaye’s groundbreaking album was snubbed by the Grammy’s, TMZ reported that the snub may have been related to a contentious battle he was engaged in between the NFL and Grammy’s. TMZ reports, “Sources familiar with the situation tell us The Weeknd’s team was in talks for weeks with Grammy brass, who issued the ultimatum — us or Super Bowl LV. We’re told both sides eventually came to an agreement where Abel could do both, but not without negotiations getting very testy.
Our sources say there’s growing suspicion Abel’s decision to perform at this year’s Super Bowl cost him Grammy noms because the bitter back-and-forth talks pissed off Grammy honchos.
It’s unclear why the Grammys would play such hardball in trying to exclusively book him for their airwaves. It might be fear of duplicate performances, as CBS is airing the award show AND the game one week apart in February. Still, our sources tell us Abel and co. feel the dispute might have something to do with his exclusion.”
However, Grammy’s officials denied the negotiations were related to Tesfaye’s snub. Per TMZ, “Harvey Mason Jr. — interim President and CEO of the Academy — says, ‘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.’
He adds, the Grammys had no issue with him performing at the Super Bowl and would have loved to have him also perform for the awards show.
As for Weeknd receiving zero nominations — Mason claims there was nothing nefarious to it. He says, ‘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.'”
What Did The Weeknd Say About the Snub?
After the list of nominees hit the web on Tuesday, November 24, the singer — whose new album After Hours slayed the charts this year — fired back in a tweet, “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…”
The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency...— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) November 25, 2020
Mason seemingly responded to The Weeknd’s message during an interview with Variety.
“It really just comes down to the voting body that decides,” he said. “I don’t think this calls [the nominating process] into question, honestly. The process is there so we can continue to monitor excellence. I was in the ‘core room’ this year [which decides the Big Four categories of Best Album, Song, Record, and New Artist] and I observed, and the people that were in it are music professionals — they are excellent, at the top of their craft in songwriting and producing, and there are a lot of artists. They were critically listening to every song that came across their desks — or virtual desks — so I don’t think it shows a flaw in the process.”
TMZ reported that the “Can’t Feel My Face” crooner was actually asked to perform at the awards show, but when he chose to sing at the Super Bowl halftime show instead, that cost him his nominations.
What Did The Other Stars Have To Say?
Later on in the day, Horan also got involved, tweeting “snubbed” with a bunch of emojis. But he added that he was just “kidding.” As fans know, his second LP, Heartbreak Weather, came out in March, and it was filled with bops.
SNUBBED 🤣😀😜 jokinggggg— Niall Horan (@NiallOfficial) November 25, 2020
Minja also shaded the Academy, writing, “Never forget the Grammys didn’t give me my Best New Artist award when I had seven songs simultaneously charting on Billboard and bigger first week than any female rapper in the last decade — went on to inspire a generation. They gave it to the white man Bon Iver. #PinkFriday” Yikes!
Never forget the Grammys didn’t give me my best new artist award when I had 7 songs simultaneously charting on billboard & bigger first week than any female rapper in the last decade- went on to inspire a generation. They gave it to the white man Bon Iver. #PinkFriday— Mrs. Petty (@NICKIMINAJ) November 24, 2020
Kid Cudi, who recently helped launch app Encore to keep artists connected with their fans during the pandemic, also had thoughts on the matter. In a tweet, the rapper opined, “Abel was robbed man this sh–s weak.”
And music industry giant Scooter Braun tweeted, “Congrats to all the nominees but @theweeknd and Sal you deserved to be there as well and deserved better. Brilliant artist and brilliant album.”
Who Did Make The List Of Nominees?
When Will The Grammys Take Place?
Mark your calendars, you guys, because the Grammys will take place on Sunday, January 31, at 8 P.M. EST. They’ll be streamed live on CBS.
Who Is Hosting The Event?
The Daily Show host and comedian Trevor Noah is set to host the awards show, and we can’t wait!
“Despite the fact that I am extremely disappointed that the Grammys have refused to have me sing or be nominated for Best Pop Album, I am thrilled to be hosting this auspicious event,” Noah said in a statement. “I think as a one-time Grammy nominee, I am the best person to provide a shoulder to all the amazing artists who do not win on the night because I too know the pain of not winning the award! (This is a metaphorical shoulder, I’m not trying to catch Corona). See you at the 63rd Grammys!”