Grammy snubs 2021: The Weeknd calls out his nomination shutout, demands 'industry transparency'
Beyoncé always stays winning.
The indomitable superstar topped the 2021 Grammy Award nominations with nine, including record and song of the year for "Black Parade," a stirring celebration of Black culture, history and activism.
The 24-time winner and now-79-time nominee is closely followed in Tuesday's nominations by Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and "The Box" newcomer Roddy Ricch, with six apiece. But there were plenty of major stars who were completely ignored or underperformed in top categories, which Billie Eilish swept last year with her game-changing debut "When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?" (The five-time winner is back in the running this year with four Grammy nods, including record and song of the year for "Everything I Wanted.")
Here are a handful of glaring omissions from Tuesday's nominations.
Seriously, what happened here? If there was one seemingly sure thing going into this year's Grammy nominations, it was that The Weeknd would rack up multiple nods, including album ("After Hours"), record and song ("Blinding Lights") of the year. His retro blend of '80s R&B/pop is as much a hit with TikTok teens as it is with their nostalgic parents, and he's recently cemented his A-list status with a spot headlining February's Super Bowl halftime show. And yet, the crooner (real name: Abel Tesfaye) was shockingly snubbed in every single category he was eligible. Perhaps there was some confusion over where to place the genre-fluid artist, whose songs incorporate elements of pop, R&B and hip-hop. It's a head-scratcher we'll be talking about long after the awards are handed out come January.
The Weeknd tweeted about the shutout Tuesday, writing, "The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency..."
Beyoncé leads Grammy nominations, Dua Lipa, Roddy Ricch and Taylor Swift score big
2021 Grammy nominations:See the complete list of artists up for an award
The 11-time Grammy winner had all the makings of an awards juggernaut. On this year's "Chromatica," she returned to the boldfaced dance pop that made her famous, after showcasing her serious songwriting chops in 2018's Grammy- and Oscar-winning "A Star is Born." She also had one of 2020's only major hits that wasn't an R&B or rap song: "Rain on Me" with Ariana Grande, a pulsing anthem about perseverance that resonated during our pandemic-stricken summer. But neither "Chromatica" nor "Rain on Me" were nominated in top categories, earning just two nominations for pop vocal album and pop duo/group performance, respectively.
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After his 2017 self-titled solo debut scored zero nominations, Styles was poised for a major Grammy coronation with his critically lauded "Fine Line," a throwback to Paul McCartney-style '70s rock that should've been palatable to older voters. But even with the added appeal of Top 10 hits "Watermelon Sugar" and "Adore You," the former One Directioner still missed out on album, song and record of the year, walking away with just three nods, including best pop vocal album. Were Grammy voters biased against Styles' boy band past, or did they simply forget about "Fine Line"? (It was released last December.) Regardless, Styles' relative absence is one of this year's biggest disappointments.
On the plus side, BTS did notch one Grammy nomination for best pop duo/group performance, for their chart-topping English-language hit "Dynamite." That said, the K-pop group's passionately vocal fans will justifiably wonder why that's their sole nom. "Dynamite" launched with record-breaking sales and streams in August, and with four No. 1 albums under their belts (including this year's eligible "Map of the Soul: 7"), there's no group bigger than BTS right now. With Blackpink enjoying similar crossover success in the U.S. this year, it's about time the Grammys acknowledged K-pop's massive presence in mainstream music.
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Given her roughly eight-year stretches between new albums, the release of Apple's magnificently messy "Fetch the Bolt Cutters" in April felt like an event, drumming up excitement among critics and music fans alike. The album was widely considered a shoo-in for an album of the year nomination, but was instead recognized only in the alternative music album category, along with rock song and performance categories for the boisterous "Shameika."
Talk about short-term memories: The Recording Academy shut out recent winners Sturgill Simpson ("Sound & Fury") and Beck ("Hyperspace") in major categories, leaving them to settle for best rock and alternative album, respectively. Even more egregious are The Chicks' snubs: The country trio (formerly known as the Dixie Chicks) swept the 2007 Grammys with album ("Taking the Long Way") and record of the year ("Not Ready to Make Nice") wins. They were paid dust this year, with no nominations for "Gaslighter," their first album in 14 years, save a producer nod for Jack Antonoff.
Dylan is a living legend and perennial Grammy powerhouse. He's won 10 awards, received 38 nods, and was honored as the 2015 MusiCares Person of the Year for his artistic and philanthropic achievements. Clearly voters must not have heard his haunting, lyrical masterpiece "Rough and Rowdy Ways," because the 79-year-old was unjustly passed over for a single nomination.
The late rapper, who died in 2018 of an accidental overdose at age 26, was poised to earn his second Grammy nomination for posthumous album "Circles," released earlier this year. Miller's emotional final project was reportedly submitted for best alternative album, but missed out in that and all other categories.
The Grammy dry spell continues for the 13-time-nominated Perry, after scoring no nominations for her polarizing 2017 effort "Witness." Her latest album, "Smile," was hardly a critics' favorite, but could have snuck into a fairly wide-open pop field, with its hooky title track and introspective "What Makes a Woman."
Run the Jewels
The rap duo of Killer Mike and El-P gave us one of 2020's most urgent and incendiary albums in "RTJ4," released amid this summer's protests against police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The fact that the album was snubbed across the board, including in all rap categories, shows how painfully out of touch Recording Academy voters still are.
No, we weren't expecting any major hardware for FKA Twigs, whose stunning sophomore effort "Magdalene" was released last November and topped our list of 2019's best albums. But the once-press-shy British artist has kept the music top of mind with refreshingly unguarded interviews and mesmerizing TV performances, in which she's pole-danced and wielded swords. We were hoping voters might recognize her genius, but like The Chicks, producer Jack Antonoff earned "Magdalene's" only nomination (for Twigs single "Holy Terrain").
Contributing: Bryan Alexander