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Artists of colour call for transparency and diversity at the Grammys

For a long time, the Grammys have represented the pinnacle of success for musicians, but the recent 63rd annual awards show has instead cast the accolades in a negative light with claims of in-built corruption.

Image by Angela Huang

Following nominations being announced, artists such as Zayn Malik and The Weeknd took to Twitter to express their dismay at the Recording Academy’s system of voting, also pointing out the lack of diversity in the nominations.

“F*** the grammys and everyone associated,” Zayn tweeted.

He also proceeded to call out the awards show saying there are no nomination considerations “unless you shake hands and send gifts”.

Also calling for transparency in the nominations is The Weeknd. Who went as far as boycotting the awards show altogether after being snubbed in this year’s nominations.

“The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency,” he said.

For a long time, the Grammys have faced a lot of scrutiny, including claims from the music industry about having biases against women and people of colour.

In an interview with Billboard, The Weeknd admitted that he believes race played a role in him not getting any nominations.

“If you were like ‘Do you think the Grammys are racist?’ I think the only real answer is that in the last 61 years of the Grammys, only 10 Black artists have won Album of the Year,” he said.

It was more than a decade ago that a black artist won Album of the Year at the Grammys.

“I don’t want to make this about me. That’s just a fact,” he went on to say.

Grammy award- winning artist John Legend has also mentioned in the past that it is “almost impossible” for a black artist to win the category.

The Recording Academy, and voting members for Grammy Award nominations, has also been called out for their lack of diversity, with 50 percent of members being Caucasian men and 24 percent being aged 40 and over.

The Grammys also received backlash online in the lead- up to the big event for lack of diversity in the categories appearing on the live show. Many took issue with the fact that the majority of POC artists had their nominated categories slotted to be presented in the pre-show, rather than during the actual awards ceremony. Unlike the live ceremony, the pre-show wasn’t aired on national television.

Some online suggested this is a blatant example of the Grammys systematic racism.

Among the categories moved to the pre-show was Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, which is normally announced during the main ceremony. One of the nominees in the category was popular K-pop band BTS, for their hit single ‘Dynamite’, though the band lost out on the award to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s ‘Rain on Me’.

Both BTS and The Weeknd were crowned as best-selling artists in the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) Global Music charts for 2020.

BTS topped the IFPI Global Artist Chart, IFPI Global Album All Format Chart, and IFPI Global Album Sales Chart, while The Weeknd ranked first for the Global Digital Single Chart and ranked second for the Global Album Sales Chart.

Since the award show was broadcast, many people have been asking how an event which is meant to represent the highest honour for artists around the world, failed to recognise successful artists like BTS and The Weeknd.

The backlash leading up also didn’t go unnoticed with the Grammys receiving a record low of 7.8 million viewers, 53 percent less than last year’s 18.7 million.

Grammy Chief Harvey Mason Jr. did respond to The Weeknd’s claim that the awards lack transparency and said that he was also surprised that the artist didn’t get a nomination.

Despite all the controversy surrounding the Grammys’ ugly side, the prestigious award show is still seen as a great accolade for musicians and a very respected institution in the music world. Hopefully, this year reveals where progress must be made towards creating a more diverse program, fit for artists of all cultures and colours.


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