“The Grammys remain corrupt,” The Weekend (born Abel Tesfaye) charged. “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.” He subsequently said he would boycott the 2021 awards ceremony and future editions of the awards shows “because of the secret committees” and that he would no longer submit his recordings for nomination consideration.
On April 30, the Mason Jr.-led academy announced the elimination of those committees, which began in 1989. It was one of a number of sweeping changes made by Mason Jr., who was a driving force behind the academy extending over the past year invitations to 2,710 new members, 48% of whom are female and 55% of whom come from “traditionally underrepresented groups.” His goal is for the academy to have 2,500 women academy members by 2025.
“If you look at this new batch of nominations, you can’t help but be impressed by the the number of women nominees and artists of color, and by the increased diversity of genres being represented,” Mason Jr. told the Union-Tribune.
“One thing I’m really happy about is the academy is now able to pivot as the music industry moves so quickly. In the past, we have not been as fluid, or attentive or able to change.”
Curious decisions and omissions
For all of Mason’s work as a positive agent for change and improvement, the latest slate of Grammy nominations does not lack for curious decisions and omissions.
Drake, Chris Stapleton, Megan Thee Stallion, BTS and Kacey Musgraves were all snubbed in the Album of the Year category. Not so frequent Grammy critic Kanye West, whose decidedly ho-hum 2021 album, “Donda,” was nominated. Also conspicuously absent from the Album of the Year ballot this time are releases by Bad Bunny, Karol G or any other reggaeton and Latin trap artists.
Paul McCartney, meanwhile, saw his “McCartney III” relegated to a nomination for Best Rock Album, where he’ll compete against AC/DC, Black Pumas, the late Chris Cornell and Foo Fighters — the Dave Grohl-led band that McCartney this year inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Of course, no awards show, let alone one as broad and ambitious as the Grammys, will ever please everyone. And Mason Jr. is now hard at work preparing for the Jan. 31 telecast of the 64th annual Grammy Awards. It will be the first since this year’s historic, largely audience-free COVID-19 edition of the Grammys.
“We have a Plan and a Plan B for January,” Mason Jr. said. “And the Plan A, even as much as wed like to have an unrestricted audience, we have to acknowledge there will (still) be some form of COVID. So Plan A involves full vaccines.
“Protecting our artists, our audience and our (production) crew will affect the way we (plan for) our audience. But it won’t drastically cut our audience size.”
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