by Skylar Grey ‘23
Published Dec. 27th, 2020
Within the past year, few albums have been as ubiquitous as The Weeknd’s After Hours, a sprawling R&B concept album reflecting on Abel’s’ heartbreak and drug use. Since the project’s release in March of 2020, the album has cemented itself at the forefront of popular music, with lead single “Blinding Lights” spending a record forty weeks in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, in addition to the 3 billion streams amassed by the project.
Yet as the Grammy nominations began to surface on November 20th, the aforementioned project did not receive a single nomination despite eligibility in both the Pop and R&B categories. Music fans were naturally incredulous as to how the committee could select an album like Changes by Justin Beiber over the beloved After Hours.
According to TMZ, Abel’s exclusion came as a result of heated negotiations where Abel chose to perform at Super Bowl LV instead of on Grammy night. This brings the methods of the committee into serious question, as consideration for an award as universal as a Grammy should be entirely impartial.
To no surprise, Abel called foul play for his lack of nomination alongside support from Charlie Puth, Kid Cudi, Akon, Elton John, and millions of enraged listeners. “I got nominated today but I don’t really care cause The Weeknd got robbed,” stated Grammy nominee Sean Leon, an important statement that shows even the Grammy hopefuls seeing themselves as losers because of the corrupt system.
Selection executive Harvey Mason Jr. provided a vague response to demands of transparency, citing the “strenuous and thoughtful” process as “fair and honest.” Despite these claims, the final list of nominees displays clear ignorance – Changes by Justin Beiber is referred to as a “knackering, loved-up slog” by NME, and received a score of 57 on Metacritic while After Hours received an 80. Despite Mason’s claims, the plummeting view count for the Grammys each year tells a complete story of the downfall of the Grammys.
Beyond the omission of After Hours is a long line of more misfires. In the 2020 Rap Album of The Year category alone, nominations deliberately ignored the new frontier of melodic rap sweeping the mainstream. Massive albums including Lil Uzi Vert’s Eternal Atake and Roddy Ricch’s Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial continued to push the boundaries of traditional rap while spawning viral hits, yet were ignored in favor of D Smoke, an artist who spent just one week on Billboard’s Album chart and had little mainstream impact.
With an expansive list of snubs and omissions, the Grammy selection process must be brought under closer scrutiny. In the NFL, a Pro Bowl honor is similar in concept to a Grammy. Football players are elected through a voting process distributed between players, coaches, and fans to give the public a clear picture of the sport’s most talented stars. In theory, a Grammy nomination should be a similar form of recognition, but the authority of the questionable Grammy nominating committees will continue to drag down the respect of a once loved award show until it loses all of it’s mainstream credibility.