Thanks, but no thanks. The Weeknd still won’t submit music to the Grammys

The Weeknd in a red sparkly suit leaning on a mirrored wall
After his Grammys shutout for awards presented in March, the Weeknd doubles down on his promise not to submit music to the Recording Academy’s competition.
(Pari Dukovic)

The Grammys won’t be seeing any of the Weeknd’s music in the foreseeable future.

The global superstar reaffirmed his position Monday in an interview with Variety, despite the Recording Academy‘s Friday move to get rid of the secret committees that have been blamed for shutting the “Starboy” singer out of any nominations for Grammys presented in March.

“I think the industry and public alike need to see the transparent system truly at play for the win to be celebrated, but it’s an important start,” the three-time Grammy winner said. “I remain uninterested in being a part of the Grammys, especially with their own admission of corruption for all these decades. I will not be submitting in the future.”

The Canadian singer, who is of Ethiopian descent, called the move to dissolve these committees “an important start,” but told the trade publication that “the trust has been broken for so long between the Grammy organization and artists that it would be unwise to raise a victory flag.”

Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy’s chairman and interim chief executive, told The Times on Saturday that the changes had been in the works since last summer and were not directly related to the controversy surrounding the Weeknd’s shutout.

“It’s a long road to get to a transformative change like this,” Mason said. “It’s not something that happens quickly or in the case of a reaction to one event.”


These secret groups — formally known as nominations review committees — had been around since 1989. They oversaw the Grammys ballot that the 12,000-member Recording Academy initially put together and had the power to shape and amend the final selections.

They’ve also had a problematic past: A few Black artists have said the committees reinforce institutional racism by discounting hip-hop and R&B artists when it comes to the more prestigious awards, such as record or album of the year.

In the Weeknd’s case, controversy arose in November after he did not receive any nominations for the 63rd Grammy Awards — despite the mainstream success of his album “After Hours,” which included the chart-topping single “Blinding Lights.” He proceeded to tweet that the Grammys were “corrupt.”

These changes, though, are not the most pressing issues on the singer’s mind. He has donated $1 million toward war relief efforts in Ethiopia, providing 2 million meals in partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme.

He told Variety that the music industry needs to continue redistributing its revenue toward “marginalized communities who create and buy the music they sell.”

“I care about making music that people love and helping where I can,” the Weeknd said. “Right now my concern is what’s happening in my home country of Ethiopia and encourage people to be aware of what is happening and donate where they can.”

Times pop music critic Mikael Wood contributed to this report.