R&B star The Weeknd sharply criticized the Grammy Awards on Tuesday after the Recording Academy, the organization behind the ceremony, snubbed his latest album, the chart-topping “After Hours.”
“The Grammys remain corrupt,” the three-time Grammy winner tweeted just before 7: 30 p.m. Tuesday, hours after the nominations for the 2021 ceremony were announced. “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…”
“After Hours” — anchored by the singles “Heartless,” “Blinding Lights,” “In Your Eyes” and “Save Your Tears” — was one of the biggest albums of the year. The synth-powered “Blinding Lights” and hypnotic “Heartless” each led the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The Weeknd, 30, whose real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, was selected earlier this month to headline the Super Bowl halftime show in Tampa, Florida, in February — a booking cheered by the Canadian pop star’s legions of fans on social media.
Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy’s interim president and CEO, addressed the high-profile snub in a statement.
“We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated,” Mason said in part. “I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling. His music this year was excellent, and his contributions to the music community and broader world are worthy of everyone’s admiration.”
“Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists,” Mason added.
The Weeknd was not the only artist to rail against the Grammys on Tuesday.
In a tweet, Nicki Minaj, 37, slammed the Recording Academy for handing the 2012 best new artist award to the folk group Bon Iver, fronted by Justin Vernon, instead of her.
“Never forget the Grammys didn’t give me my best new artist award when I had 7 songs simultaneously charting on billboard & bigger first week than any female rapper in the last decade- went on to inspire a generation,” she tweeted. “They gave it to the white man Bon Iver.”
The tweet had garnered more than 380,000 likes as of Wednesday morning.
Justin Bieber, who earned four nominations, criticized the Recording Academy’s decision-making, too. He said “Changes,” his fifth studio album, was incorrectly seen as a pop album instead of an R&B record.
He expressed appreciation for his nods, saying he was “flattered” for being recognized, but went on to say the purported miscategorization of “Changes” was a mistake.
“I set out to make an R&B album,” Bieber wrote on Instagram. “‘Changes’ was and is an R&B album. It is not being acknowledged as an R&B album, which is very strange to me.”
Bieber, 26, was nominated for best pop solo performance, best pop duo/group performance, best pop vocal album and best country duo/group performance.
The criticisms come nearly a year after Deborah Dugan, the former chief executive of the Recording Academy, publicly alleged the nominating process for the music industry ceremony was “rigged” and clouded by conflicts of interest.
In an interview with NBC News, Dugan painted the Recording Academy as an institution rife with corruption in which powerful industry figures exercise undue influence on who gets recognized for music’s top honors.
In a statement at the time, the academy said Dugan’s allegations about its voting procedures were “utterly untrue.”
“The Academy has rigorous and well-publicized protocols in place to ensure that voting is absolutely fair — and free of conflicts of interest. For Ms. Dugan to suggest anything to the contrary is simply not true,” it said in the statement, directing readers to an explanation of the voting process on its website.
Daniel Arkin is a reporter for NBC News.