The Grammys are considered music’s biggest night, and it’s the ultimate honor to take home a famed gilded gramophone trophy from the Recording Academy. As music has evolved over the years, however, there’s been a string of controversies tied to the ceremony, and a number of celebrities have aired out their grievances about the Recording Academy’s nomination process and how they vote for who takes the final awards home on the night of the show. As the 2021 Grammy Awards approach, the list of celebrity quotes calling out the Grammys keeps on growing.
Some artist grievances with the Recording Academy have to do with being snubbed, which has led to a number of artists calling it a corrupt show. While it’s a fact every artist hates behind snubbed, the Recording Academy’s history of winners highlights serious systemic issues, including sexism, racism, and bias against independent artists. Some of the biggest artists of today agree the Grammys has serious issues to deal with, especially after 2021’s nominees were announced.
Fans have been calling out the Grammys for these issues for years, and have even made promises to not watch the show if their fave artists aren’t being recognized. Now, artists are bravely following suit once and for all. These are all the celebrities who have a bone (or two) to pick with the Grammy Awards.
1. The Weeknd
When the 2021 Grammy nominees were announced on Nov. 24, The Weeknd was left empty handed. The Weeknd and music fans everywhere were shocked over After Hours getting snubbed. It received massive commercial acclaim, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. His single "Blinding Lights" even broke the record for the most weeks in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. Considering the album’s critical and commercial success, it’s understandable he was left fuming after being passed over for nominations.
The three-time Grammy winner took to Twitter to slam the Recording Academy. "The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…" he tweeted.
2. Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber scooped up four 2021 Grammy nominations, so the reason he’s upset this year isn’t because he was snubbed. Instead, it’s because he doesn’t believe he was nominated in the right category. JB took to social media so insist his February 2020 album Changes shouldn’t have been included in a pop centric category.
"I am very meticulous and intentional about my music," he wrote in one part of his Instagram post. With that being said I set out to make an R&B album. “‘Changes’ was and is an R&B album. It is not being acknowledged as an R&B album which is very strange to me.”
The Biebs’ complaint was a two-fold example of how unfair the Grammys’ nomination process can be. The Weeknd made critically acclaimed pop music, yet he was passed over by the Recording Academy. Meanwhile, Bieber made an R&B album that received tepid reviews from critics, yet he was pushed to the front of pop categories.
In what was one of his boldest moves to date, Drake shaded the Grammys… at the Grammys. Yep, the rapper used his 2019 acceptance speech to sling shade at the Recording Academy for not giving artists proper recognition.
"Look, if there’s people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, [and] spending their hard earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows — you don’t need this right here. I promise you, you already won," he said, gesturing with his Grammy.
When Adele took to the stage to accept the award for Album of the Year at the 2017 Grammy Awards, she was less than thrilled. She felt that Beyoncé, who had a wildly successful year with her Lemonade album that year, was more deserving.
"I can’t possibly accept this award," she said during her acceptance speech. "The Lemonade album was just so monumental, Beyoncé. It was so monumental and well thought-out and beautiful and soul-baring… we appreciate that… the way you make me and my friends feel, the way you make my Black friends feel is empowering and you make them stand up for themselves.”
Adele even went as far as to break her Grammy Award in half and share it with the singer.
After the 2021 Grammy nominations were unveiled, Halsey took to her Instagram story and demanded transparency in the Recording Academy’s nomination process.
“The Grammys are an elusive process," she wrote. "It can often be about behind the scenes private performances, knowing the right people, campaigning through the grapevine, with the right handshakes and ‘bribes’ that can be just ambiguous enough to pass as ‘not bribes.’
Halsey’s album Manic was snubbed, and she claimed the Academy is operating on a corrupt system. "It’s about committing to exclusive TV performances and making sure you help the Academy make their millions in advertising on the night of the show," her post read. The singer also noted that she thought The Weeknd deserved better.
Eminem has been far from quiet about his disdain for the Grammy Awards. Despite having won 15 Grammys himself, he didn’t hold back his true feelings about the show on his 2018 album Kamikaze, on which he dissed the Grammys in his song "Fall."
“Then tell the Grammys to go and f*ck themselves, they suck the blood from all the biggest artists like some leeches / So they nominate ’em, get ’em there, get a name to ’em / See the show, every parasite needs a host," he rapped in one verse.
That same year, he sat down with Sway Calloway to further expose his views on the Grammys, saying that he will never attend the show again after seeing them snub 50 Cent, Jay-Z, and other deserving artists through the years.
"They give it to their darlings. The f*cking, oh, this got critical acclaim but sold two records. It ain’t about always what you sell, I get that… but there comes a point where when an overwhelming something comes along that has this wave and impact on music, and you give it to f*cking la-da-f*cking-dadi… who?"
7. Frank Ocean
In February 2017, Ocean revealed why he decided not to submit his music to the Grammys for consideration, despite releasing another career-defining record Blonde the year prior. "That institution certainly has nostalgic importance,” he told the New York Times. “It just doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down.”
8. Kanye West
West also appears to be fed up with inequality in the music industry, and boldly showed the world how he feels about the Recording Academy by peeing on his collection of Grammys Awards. Yep, Ye took to Twitter in September 2020 with a video in the bathroom literally urinating on one of his golden gramophones.
The video came after a string of tweets from the rapper calling out the music industry’s unfair pay standards for artists, especially ones who don’t own their own masters.
9. Nicki Minaj
Minaj hasn’t forgiven or forgotten the time the Grammys snubbed her for Best New Artist in 2012 after she released her incredibly successful album Pink Friday. She took to Twitter nearly eight years later in November 2020 to reflect on the moment that had the Barbz up in arms.
"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. They gave it to the white man Bon Iver," she wrote.
Minaj has notably been nominated for a Grammy ten times throughout the course of her career, but has yet to win.
10. Ariana Grande
Just ahead of the 2019 Grammys Awards, show producer Ken Ehrlich spoke out about why Grande wouldn’t be performing at the show. Ehrlich attributed it to a lack of time to prepare, but Ari called him out big time after seeing the interview.
“I’ve kept my mouth shut but now you’re lying about me,” she tweeted. “I can pull together a performance over night and you know that, Ken. It was when my creativity & self-expression was stifled by you, that I decided not to attend.”
Ari then followed up with yet another message, writing, "I offered 3 different songs. it’s about collaboration. it’s about feeling supported. It’s about art and honesty. not politics. Not doing favors or playing games. It’s just a game y’all.. and I’m sorry but that’s not what music is to me."
According to Variety, the dispute all stemmed from a disagreement over which song Ari would perform. The outlet claimed Grande wanted to perform her single "7 Rings," while the Recording Academy requested she make it part of a larger medley.
Jay-Z is another rapper who doesn’t appreciate the Recording Academy’s history of snubbing rappers. He dissed the ceremony in an interview with MTV, explaining that he boycotted the show.
“I didn’t think they gave the rightful respect to hip-hop,” he told MTV News. “It started that they didn’t nominate DMX that year. DMX had an incredible album. He didn’t get a nomination. I was like, ‘Nah, that’s crazy.’”
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