As Grammys approach, The Weeknd announces boycott: Are the awards facing a legitimacy crisis?

The Grammys are controversial for their secrecy; they don’t release eligibility or submissions lists like the Oscars or Emmys do, and they don’t reveal who’s on the nomination review committees that decide many categories. But while they’re certainly not the only ones who keep much of their process under wraps, it’s an increasing problem for the recording academy since they keep alienating the talent they’re supposed to be celebrating. Now The Weeknd has announced that he’ll be sitting out the Grammys from now on.

The Weeknd told the New York Times, “Because of the secret committees. I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.” This follows his shocking snubs at this year’s awards. It’s not uncommon for an artist to under-perform in the nominations relative to expectations (this year we also thought Lady Gaga and Harry Styles might do better than the scant recognition they received), but the fact that The Weeknd wasn’t nominated in a single category despite a critically acclaimed, bestselling album (“After Hours“) and one of the most successful singles in Billboard charts history (“Blinding Lights”) was a huge red flag. He accused the Grammys of being corrupt, and he’s not the first.

Other artists like Frank Ocean and Drake have declined to submit their work for consideration in recent years due to frustrations with the Grammy process. Other artists like Halsey and Zayn have criticized the system, alleging that the process is plagued by glad-handing and deal-making. Current three-time nominee Fiona Apple sounded off about the organization, wondering if nominating an all-female slate of rock performers was more a publicity stunt than a genuine acknowledgment, especially since the Grammys also nominated producer Dr. Luke just a couple of years after they celebrated the woman he was alleged to have abused, Kesha. And of course, former CEO Deborah Dugan alleged rigged voting as she was ousted from the organization.

That’s where the Grammys might run into the most trouble. Lots of awards groups have gotten into hot water for their demographics, voting processes, and blind spots, but by and large movie professionals still want to win Oscars, TV insiders are honored to win Emmys, and Broadway stars eagerly show up for the Tonys. If enough high-profile talent decide that they don’t even want to be in the Grammy conversation anymore, will it eventually reach a critical mass where the Grammys are marginalized in their own industry? If it reaches that point, it might not matter anymore what reforms the academy tries to make.

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