The Weeknd's Feud with the Grammys: A Timeline

The Weeknd, real name Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, has announced he will be "boycotting future Grammys" due to the "secret committees" that decide who is nominated. This comes after a few months where the three-time Grammy winner and the Recording Academy has been locked in a war of words after his 2020 single "Blinding Lights" and album After Hours failed to secure any nominations for the 2021 ceremony, airing on CBS on Sunday, March 14.

This feud also comes just over a year after a former chief executive made a number of accusations about the Academy that The Weeknd seems to be referring to in his words about the Grammys. Here's everything you need to know about the relationship between the artists and the academy.

February 2013 - The Weeknd celebrates first Grammy 'win'

momma i'm a grammy winner now. take care. xo.

— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) February 11, 2013

In 2013, the artist tweeted "momma i'm a grammy winner now. take care. Xo." on the night after the 55th Grammys. Though he would not win a solo Grammy until three years later, he appears to be celebrating for his production work on two tracks on "Take Care," the Drake album that won Best Rap album that night.

February 2016 to 2018 - The Weeknd wins three Grammys

The Weeknd's relationship with the Grammys was fairly plain sailing until at least 2018. This was when he won the last of three Grammys, with his album "Starboy" winning Best Urban Contemporary Album. Previously, "Beauty Behind the Madness" won the same award in 2016, while his song "Earned It" netted Best R&B Performance. At the 2016 awards, he also performed a medley of songs.

the weeknd grammys
The Weeknd won two Grammys in 2016. Getty

He said of these awards in January 2021 to Billboard: "Look, I personally don't care anymore. I have three GRAMMYs, which mean nothing to me now, obviously. It's not like, 'Oh, I want the GRAMMY!' It's just that this happened, and I'm down to get in front of the fire, as long as it never happens again. I suck at giving speeches anyways. Forget awards shows."

January 2020 - Deborah Dugan fired from the Grammys

Central to The Weeknd's assertion that "secret committees" run the Grammys were the revelations made by its chief executive Deborah Dugan, who was put on administrative leave just five months into her tenure.

In response, she filed a 44-page complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and was then fired.

In the press release that followed, Dugan told Good Morning America that "there are incidents of conflict of interest that taint the results"—a claim the Academy denied.

In her filing, meanwhile, she wrote: "The Grammy voting process is ripe with corruption...members of the board [of trustees] and the secret committees chose artists with whom they have personal or business relationships." Again, the Grammys denied this.

November 2020 - Grammys nominations released

The Grammys released their 2021 nominations in late 2020, with Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift and Beyonce each with multiple nominations. The Weeknd, meanwhile, had no nominations, despite his song "Blinding Lights" being the most-streamed song of the year.

The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency...

— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) November 25, 2020

This led the artist to tweet, mirroring Dugan's statements. "The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency..." he wrote.

It was later alleged that he was effectively locked out of the nominations when he decided to perform at the Super Bowl.

The Grammy's interim chief executive Harvey Mason Jr. responded to these allegations with a statement reading: "We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated. I was surprised and can empathise with what he's feeling.

"Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists. To be clear, voting in all categories ended well before The Weeknd's performance at the Super Bowl was announced, so in no way could it have affected the nomination process."

It should be noted that other artists have performed at the Super Bowl, then performed and won at the Grammys. Justin Timberlake's controversial Super Bowl performance with Janet Jackson, for example, came just a week before he performed (twice) at the 2004 Grammys and won two awards.

March 2021 - The Weeknd boycotts the Grammys

The Weeknd announced that he will be boycotting future Grammys, telling The New York Times: "Because of the secret committees. I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys."

In response, Mason told the paper: "We're all disappointed when anyone is upset. But I will say that we are constantly evolving. And this year, as in past years, we are going to take a hard look at how to improve our awards process, including the nomination review committees."

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