UPDATE: Why the Weeknd is Boycotting Future Grammy Awards

From left: Beyoncé, the Grammys’ most nominated artist this year; the Weeknd, who was shut out of the 2021 awards; and Taylor Swift, whose quarantine album “Folklore” received five of her six nods. For the Weeknd, the entire process has proved unacceptable. In a statement to The New York Times, he said he would boycott the awards from now on. “Because of the secret committees,” the Weeknd said, “I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.” (Credit...Getty Images/NBC/NBCU/Reuters)

The New York Times

Grammys Ready Pandemic Show, as the Weeknd Boycotts Future Awards​: The event on Sunday will address the challenges of a music industry hit hard by the pandemic. The Weeknd, who was snubbed, says he will boycott the awards going forward, in a sign of continuing friction with artists.

When music fans tune in to the 63rd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday night, with Trevor Noah as host and performances by nearly two dozen stars including Taylor Swift, Cardi B, Dua Lipa and BTS, they will see the music world coming together in celebration and friendly competition after a grueling year.

Beyoncé, who has nine nominations, will be aiming for her first win in a major category since 2010, while Swift has five nominations connected to “Folklore,” an album made entirely in quarantine. The show will also address the pandemic’s painful impact on music, with an extended “in memoriam” segment and a spotlight on the independent venues that represent music history, but which have suffered devastating blows after a year of lost business.

But behind the scenes, the industry is waging a war for the soul of the Grammys, after years of accusations of bias against women and Black artists, and complaints over an opaque voting system that critics say is unfair and out of touch.

Every year there are winners and losers. But this year’s biggest controversy highlights the way names get on the ballot in the first place. It involves the Weeknd, the Canadian pop star whose sleek, high-concept earworms like “Blinding Lights” have broken chart records and drawn wide critical acclaim; last month he also played the Super Bowl halftime show, perhaps pop music’s biggest big-tent moment. Yet when it came time for Grammy nominations, the Weeknd got nothing.

Why? Scrutiny has zeroed in on a little-understood part of the Grammy process: the role of anonymous expert committees, which review initial nomination choices by the thousands of music professionals who make up the voting membership of the Recording Academy, the nonprofit group behind the awards, and — for 61 of the Grammys’ 84 categories — have the final say about who makes the cut. To the Grammy leadership, the committees are a check-and-balance step to preserve the integrity of the awards. To suspicious artists, they are unaccountable star chambers that can subvert the will of the voters.

For the Weeknd, the entire process has proved unacceptable. In a statement to The New York Times, he said he would boycott the awards from now on. “Because of the secret committees,” the Weeknd said, “I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.”

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Related:

Video: The Weeknd Rocks Tampa with Super Bowl Halftime Show


Abel rocked Raymond James Stadium Sunday in between halves, headlining the Pepsi Halftime Show solo … as promised. For starters, almost 80% of his set was done on an elevated platform from high up in the bleachers — away from pretty much everyone below. (TMZ)

TMZ

The Weeknd came, he saw, and he conquered his Super Bowl halftime performance … and, boy, was this one different in the midst of a pandemic.

Abel rocked Raymond James Stadium Sunday in between halves, headlining the Pepsi Halftime Show solo … as promised. For starters, almost 80% of his set was done on an elevated platform from high up in the bleachers — away from pretty much everyone below.

They built an elaborate stage for the guy — complete with a makeshift cityscape made in the fashion of Las Vegas and kinda NYC too. Weeknd was surrounded by a bunch of would-be clones that changed costumes throughout, but started out with masks and glowing red eyes.

Of course, TW was in his signature red blazer, black gloves and MJ-esque shoes. He ran through a few of his hits, including ‘Starboy,’ ‘The Hills’ and ‘Can’t Feel My Face.’ He then ran backstage into a house of mirrors type of set, reminiscent of his ‘Blinding Lights’ music vid.

Weeknd continued to sing snippets of ‘I Feel It Coming,’ ‘Save Your Tears,’ and ‘Earned It’ — that’s when the party got on the move … down to the field level where he kept the show going.

Almost the entire gridiron was flooded with Abel lookalikes, but all of them had their faces bandaged … with the OG eventually joining them as they wrapped a choreographed dance routine. He then led them into a march down field, and went on to sing ‘BL,’ which was capped off with a crazy firework show and the so-called clones running around him in elaborate circles before falling to the ground and lying still, with only Weeknd left standing.

It was pretty neat — but perhaps most noteworthy … the fact fans couldn’t come on down and join in on the fun. Still, Weeknd made the most of it … and the crowd seemed to love every minute, as they could be heard screaming from the stands.

The whole thing ran about 14 minutes, and seemed to go off without a hitch. Well done, all!

Related:

Spotlight: 5 Things to Know About The Weeknd


It’s Super Bowl Weeknd (not a typo). Canadian singer The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) will be on the biggest stage of his career when he performs the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday, February 7, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida., and he’s taking no chances on its success. (AP photo)

WUSA9

From The Weeknd’s unusual stage name to his musical influences, here are a few things you may not know about the Super Bowl halftime performer.

It’s Super Bowl Weeknd (not a typo). Canadian singer The Weeknd will be on the biggest stage of his career when he performs the halftime show at Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he’s taking no chances on its success.

“We all grow up watching the world’s biggest acts playing the Super Bowl and one can only dream of being in that position,” the singer said when it was announced in November. “I’m humbled, honored and ecstatic to be the center of that infamous stage.”

How honored? The Weeknd told Billboard last week that he’s put up $7 million of his own money to “make this halftime show be what he envisioned.”

The Weeknd broke though into mainstream with his smash hit “Can’t Feel My Face” that was featured on his second studio album, “Beauty Behind the Madness,” which topped the Billboard 200 in 2015 and won a Grammy. He’s had three other chart-topping albums including his recent offering “After Hours,” which was released in March 2020.

The Weeknd’s 2020 hit single “Blinding Lights” became his fifth song to peak at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He’s also won Grammys for his album “Starboy” and the song “Earned It.” That song also earned him an Oscar nomination after it appeared in the movie “Fifty Shades Of Grey.”

If you’re unfamiliar with The Weeknd, an artist known for being somewhat press averse, here are five things to know before he takes the field in Tampa.

What is The Weeknd’s real name?

Abel Tesfaye. He was born in Toronto, Canada, on February 16, 1990.

Why is he The Weeknd and not The Weekend?

Tesfaye wanted to call himself The Weekend, according to E!, but an Ontario band already had dibs on the name. So, he just dropped a vowel.

He did crossword puzzles to improve his vocabulary

Tesfaye was a high school dropout, according to a 2015 Rolling Stone interview. He did crossword puzzles to up his vocabulary. He said then he wished he was a more eloquent speaker. “Me not finishing school — in my head, I still have this insecurity when I’m talking to someone educated,” he said.

Michael Jackson was a huge influence due to The Weeknd’s heritage

Tesfaye said Michael Jackson was an influence on his career not only for the King of Pop’s music, but due to Tesfaye’s family roots. Although he was born in Toronto, his parents were from Ethiopia.

“People forget — ‘We Are the World’ is for Ethiopia,” he told Rolling Stone, referencing the 1985 song Jackson wrote with Lionel Richie to raise money to combat famine in Africa. “At home, if it wasn’t Ethiopian music, it was Michael. He was our icon.” He told Vanity Fair that Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough” helped him find his voice.

A run-in with police helped him ‘smarten up’

In a 2016 interview with The Guardian, Tesfaye said he had a “near-miss” with the law that he described as “bad enough for me to smarten up, to focus.” While he didn’t elaborate, he said he knew he was given a second chance. “And you either take the experience and think, ‘This is it, final straw’, or you don’t. And the next move after that? It’s your entire life. You become who you become because of the next move you make.”

Tesfaye joins a list of celebrated musicians who have played during Super Bowl halftime shows, including Madonna, Beyoncé, Coldplay, Katy Perry, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and last year’s duo of Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.

Jay-Z’s Roc Nation company is executive producing the halftime show for a second year. Jesse Collins, who has produced the BET Awards and is working on this year’s Grammys and Oscars telecasts, will serve as an executive producer.

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