Despite being one of his most successful albums to date, The Weeknd’s After Hours received a total of zero Grammy nominations last November. Now, the Toronto R&B star has finally opened up about the massive Grammys snub in a lengthy interview with Billboard.
His fourth studio LP yielded widespread critical acclaim, four chart-topping singles (“Blinding Lights”, “Save Your Tears”, “Heartless”, and “In Your Eyes”), a TikTok dance craze and exclusive in-app performance, and multiple record-breaking streaming stats. So, when After Hours went completely unrecognized by the Recording Academy, The Weeknd felt just as beat up as he’s appeared in his recent press photos.
“I use a sucker punch as an analogy. Because it just kind of hit me out of nowhere,” admitted the singer, also known as Abel Tesfaye. “I definitely felt… I felt things. I don’t know if it was sadness or anger. I think it was just confusion. I just wanted answers. Like, ‘What happened?’”
“We did everything right, I think,” he continued. “I’m not a cocky person. I’m not arrogant. People told me I was going to get nominated. The world told me. Like, ‘This is it; this is your year.’ We were all very confused.”
According to The Weeknd, many fellow musicians were also so bewildered and disappointed that they reached out to him personally. “People I haven’t spoken to in ages, the entire music community,” he said.
There’s been speculation that The Weeknd was ignored by the Grammys because he’d agreed to headline the 2021 Super Bowl Halftime Show just one week later on February 7th. (Due to COVID-19, the Grammys have been postponed to March 14th.) Speaking to Billboard, The Weeknd instead suggested that the snub was related to race, pointing out that only 10 Black musicians have won Album of the Year in the Grammys’ 61 years.
“I don’t want to make this about me,” the 30-year-old remarked. “That’s just a fact.”
The Weeknd previously scored three Grammys — two for Beauty Behind the Madness, one for Starboy — but at this point, the trophies “mean nothing to me now, obviously,” he said. “Look, I personally don’t care anymore… Forget awards shows.
The Grammys controversy appears to mostly be in The Weeknd’s rearview mirror now, as all of his focus is on his Super Bowl Halftime Show. The R&B phenomenon just released a greatest hits compilation, The Highlights, in anticipation of the Super Bowl Sunday. Also per his manager, Wassim “Sal” Slaiby”, The Weeknd’s even chipped in $7 million dollars (!) of his own money to “make his halftime show be what he envisioned.”
Read the full Billboard cover story here. Below, revisit his “In Your Eyes” music video featuring none other than Kenny G.