The Grammy nominations came out this week and though there is some very impressive Canadian representation in the big categories of the night, there was one glaring absence: despite releasing what some have called his best work to date, The Weeknd did not receive any nominations for his '80s-influenced opus, After Hours. Since then, both The Weeknd and the chief of the Recording Academy have responded.
“The Grammys remain corrupt,” the Scarborough native tweeted after nominations were revealed. “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.” Sure, there might be an element of hubris to leading outcry against your own nominations but in this case, we say it’s justified, especially considering that he had been invited to perform (weird!). In response to that, Grammy chief Harvey Mason Jr. pointed out that the Grammy nominations are determined by his peers. “Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists,” he wrote.
Seeing extremely successful artists vie for validation from institutions like the Grammys can be confusing, especially considering how often the awards miss the mark. If an album was a critical and commercial success, what more do you need? But still it’s important to understand the context for Black artists like The Weeknd, and how nominations and wins can be clear reflections of how the industry values their art. It’s a loaded conversation that we aren’t even scratching the surface of, but it’s important to note.
Snubs aside, Canadians fared quite well in the big categories. Producer Frank Dukes was nominated for his work with Post Malone, JP Saxe snagged a Best Song nomination for his TikTok hit with real-life girlfriend Julia Michaels, Kaytranada has three nominations for his work on Bubba, including Best New Artist, and Justin Bieber got four nominations in the pop and country categories, much to his own chagrin.
In addition to the Grammy nominations, this was a great month for Canadian artists, who scored the beginning to the second lockdown and the end of the year with moody and transparent tracks. Here are this month’s standouts.