HITS Daily Double


We have to hold the Recording Academy accountable for making sure the Grammy nominations are reflective of both the marketplace and the culture.

We certainly disagree—strenuously—with many of the choices, but most of these are subject to debate. But a complete shutout of The Weeknd? The Secret Committee is essentially saying, "Fuck you—we can do whatever we want with impunity, and without you knowing who we are."

That’s just plain wrong and there’s no earthly reason for it.

“Blinding Lights” was a gargantuan hit, one that not only racked up a mind-boggling number of streams and radio spins but spilled over into other media, thundering at every sporting event, bubbling up as a TV bumper and pouring out of every other device that carries an audio signal. This song was so big that it drove consumption of other songs; it was a catalyst for music and the music industry.

And by the way, it’s also a great record: not cheesy, not derivative, not a novelty tune. It is aesthetically impeccable. That goes for the entire After Hours album.

The Weeknd himself, already a superstar, was catapulted to megastardom by this work—he’s about to play the Super Bowl for crying out loud. He’s never been bigger nor more of a cultural force. So how is it conceivable that he didn’t make the Top 20 in every single category for which he was submitted?

Answer: It's not. There is no scenario in which this ubiquitous, mesmerizing, envelope-pushing artist with a heavenly voice and the best material of his career was simply overlooked by voters who, somehow, embraced artists we’ve never heard of (sincere congratulations to all those artists). It is unthinkable.

The only conclusion we can draw is that he was purposely excluded. Why?

There’s no way to know, but we simply don’t buy the explanations offered thus far. The only way The Weeknd doesn’t end up with both Big Three and genre noms is if a decision was made to remove him from the list.

If we’re right, that was a dumb-ass decision and a slap in the face to pretty much the entire biz. It makes us all look bad and out of touch. It would certainly have been possible to acknowledge his achievement without lowering the volume on the Academy’s political/social objectives and (wholly justified) attention to righting the gender imbalance.

But if we’re doing this yearly trophyfest to honor great records—particularly ones that have had a huge cultural impact—Grammy’s neglect on this front is a huge failure.

The people in the rooms who made this choice are hiding their faces and their reasons. Who are they, and why do they have the right to do this to our most significant artists?

The Weeknd made the most compelling record of the year. Lil Baby made the most consequential political statement in music this year. Harry Styles is our biggest star. They were all excluded from the Top Three categories.

This just doesn’t make any sense.