The nominations for the 2021 Grammy Awards were announced on Tuesday. And, as usual, there were plenty of surprising inclusions and exclusions; the most shocking of which was The Weeknd's complete shutout.
Fans were were understandably frustrated after it was confirmed Abel's After Hours album did not receive a single nomination, despite it being both a critical and commercial juggernaut. Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy's interim president and CEO, addressed the snub during a couple of post-announcement interviews, stating the decision simply came down to the number of votes and limited slots in each category.
"For The Weeknd, in every year you only have a certain amount of people you can nominate for each category," Mason told Billboard. "... We are excited about some of the other categories where he was nominated. It’s never easy to tell where people are going to land."
He made similar comments during a Q&A with Variety, explaining the steps of the nomination process, which he described as both fair and arduous.
"... All the records get the fairest of fair shakes. We listen to all the music — even an album, you’re listening to almost the whole album, it takes I don’t know how many hours," he said. "It’s a long, arduous process and people take pride in it. The people in that room care: there's no agendas in there, there's no 'let's snub this person' or that person. It's about. 'Let’s try and find excellence.' Also, you have to remember that committee can't vote on something that's not there."
Mason went on to briefly explain the Academy's two-step voting process, in which the committees make their decisions based on a shortlist of "the 20 top vote-getters from the general voting field." He would not, however, say whether The Weeknd's After Hours was on any of those shortlists. Mason also danced around the question of whether he could recall a time when a record as big as After Hours had been completely snubbed.
"I can’t ever remember a time when we’ve had 23,000 entries — that is the most entries we’ve ever had," he told Variety. "I can’t remember a time when we’ve ever had this much range of genres and different types of musicians and music all in the [top four] categories. It’s actually amazing."
The 63rd Grammy Awards will air Sunday, Jan. 31, on CBS. The Academy hasn't announced where the ceremony will take place, but said the venue will be located in or around the Los Angeles area. They've also yet to decide whether the show will include a live audience.
"We’re still kind of on the fence, it really depends on what the medical professionals tell us we can do, and what the leaders of the city of L.A. and California allow us to do," Mason told Variety. "We definitely have a location in Downtown L.A., we have live performances, live awards, great hosts. It’s gonna be a show that’s different from the other awards shows that have happened at this point, we’re going to determine as we get a little bit closer what we’re going to do with our audience, but we have some really cool and special things that are coming together for our show."