The Grammys Amid the Pandemic: Nominations, The Weeknd’s Snub and What to Watch For

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The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards will be presented on Jan. 31, 2021, with late-night television talk show host Trevor Noah hosting. With ideas floating around that the COVID-19 pandemic may not be over until late 2021, it is almost certain that the Grammys will follow in the footsteps of recent pandemic-affected award shows that have been held virtually. While viewers are still unsure of what this award show will look like, the Recording Academy has released their list of nominees. 

With categories ranging from the well-known Song of the Year to those that are more specific, such as Best Progressive R&B Album, viewers will see their favorite songs and artists receive nominations and awards in their respective categories.

The Recording Academy is an organization of professionals in the music industry that hosts the Grammy Awards. This group also chooses the nominees and winners, as opposed to other awards shows that allow the audience to vote for their favorites. 

To receive a nomination for the 63rd Annual Grammys, an album must have been released between Sept. 1, 2019 and Aug. 30, 2020. It must also be available for sale or streaming via any general music distribution service. While this means that any album available on a general music streaming service could be nominated, it is typically the more popular songs and albums that snag a nomination.  

Though the excitement of the Grammys will hopefully bring some form of normalcy to quarantining, there is some disappointment with the nominees. One album that fell short of nomination is The Weeknd’s “After Hours.”

The Weeknd’s fourth studio album, released Mar. 20, 2020, debuted at number 11 on the charts. His hit single “Blinding Lights” is heard on the radio, during commercials, on news and sports channels and practically everywhere. Periodically, “In Your Eyes” and “Heartless” are also heard on the radio. “Blinding Lights” alone has currently been on the Billboard 100 charts for fifty-one weeks. All of the songs on “After Hours” have been on the Billboard charts, at one point. On paper, The Weeknd’s album fit the criteria for what some people would see as an obvious nomination. So why wasn’t he nominated?

Initial accusations regard The Weeknd declining to perform at the Grammys, instead choosing to perform at the Super Bowl. Because of these actions, many people believe the Academy snubbed him of any nominations. With the Super Bowl being held in early February, and both programs being televised on CBS, he certainly could not do both. 

Besides this theory, others have considered a calculated lack of diversity from the Grammys, leading to The Weeknd’s lack of nominations. Hypothetically, this would entail the Grammys nominating few people of color this year, especially in the wake of the Black Lives Matter racial justice movement. However, the award show has previously received backlash for allowing or platforming racism, so this accusation in terms of The Weeknd’s snub may not be not too far off. 

Shortly after the nominations were released, The Weeknd did not hesitate to take to Twitter to express his frustration. “The Grammys remain corrupt…” he tweeted, “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…”

New Jersey-native singer Halsey also took to Twitter to talk about what she believes about the Grammy nomination process. She tweeted about the elusive behind-the-scenes process that might guarantee a nomination. To her, a hopeful nominee must “know the right people, campaign through the grapevines with the right handshakes and ‘bribes’ that can be just ambiguous enough to pass as ‘not bribes’…and making sure you help the Academy make their millions in advertising the night of the show.”

Could The Weeknd not wanting to take part in the claimed “elusive process” of the Grammys be the reason he did not receive a nomination? This is just one of the many theories that people are coming up with. Whatever the case may be, the Grammys have definitely fallen short for its 2021 awards show by not nominating “After Hours.” 

Below you can find a few of the coveted awards to look out for during the 63rd Annual Grammys:

Album of the Year

  • “Chilombo” by Jhené Aiko
  • “Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition)” by Black Pumas
  • “Everyday Life” by Coldplay
  • “DJesse Vol.3” by Jacob Collier
  • “Women in Music Pt. III” by HAIM
  • “Future Nostalgia” by Dua Lipa
  • “Hollywood’s Bleeding” by Post Malone
  • “folklore” by Taylor Swift

Song of the Year

  • “Black Parade” by Beyoncé
  • “The Box” by Roddy Ricch
  • “cardigan” by Taylor Swift
  • “Circles” by Post Malone
  • “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa
  • “Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish
  • “I Can’t Breathe” by H.E.R.
  • “If The World Was Ending” by JP Saxe featuring Julia Michaels

Best New Artist

  • Ingrid Andress
  • Phoebe Bridgers
  • Chika
  • Noah Cyrus
  • D Smoke
  • Doja Cat
  • Kaytranada
  • Megan Thee Stallion

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