The Canadian singer-songwriter, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, scored a critical and commercial smash with his latest album, “After Hours,” released in March. The record features “Blinding Lights,” a 1980s synth-pop homage that became his fifth No. 1 single.
But when the nominations for the Grammy Awards were unveiled on Tuesday, The Weeknd was nowhere to be found.
Responding to the news on social media, he argued that the Grammys “remain corrupt,” adding, “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.”
The nominations slight came less than two weeks after The Weeknd was announced as the halftime performer for Super Bowl LV, set to take place Feb. 7 in Tampa, Florida.
On Tuesday, TMZ reported that at one point before the nominations, the Recording Academy had told The Weeknd that he could perform at its 63rd Grammy Awards ceremony on Jan. 31 or the Super Bowl show, but not both. (TMZ said the two sides later reached an agreement allowing him to do both.)
Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy’s chair and interim president and CEO, brushed off the claims of an ultimatum.
“To be clear, voting in all categories ended well before The Weeknd’s performance at the Super Bowl was announced,” Mason told Billboard in a Wednesday statement. “So in no way could it have affected the nomination process.”
As to The Weeknd’s absence from the 2021 nominations list, Mason added, “I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling. His music this year was excellent.”
The Weeknd has received 10 Grammy nominations over the course of his career, winning three times. His most recent win was in 2017 when he picked up the award for best urban contemporary album for “Starboy.”
The 2021 Grammy nominations were dominated by Beyoncé, who received nine nods. The pop superstar was followed by Taylor Swift, Roddy Ricch and Dua Lipa, who scored six nominations each.
But The Weeknd wasn’t the only one criticizing the Grammys process. Nicki Minaj recalled when they snubbed her by giving the 2012 award for best new artist to Bon Iver. And Justin Bieber, who received four Grammy nods this time, had issues with his album “Changes” being classified as pop rather than R&B.