The Grammy Awards have changed its tune and voted to remove its nomination review committees — groups that determined the contenders for key awards at the coveted music show.
The Recording Academy made the announcement Friday after the board of trustees met and approved the change. The decision came hours after The Associated Press reported that the academy was planning to discuss its nomination review committees and whether it was time to eliminate them.
Now, they said, nominees will be based purely on votes made by the academy’s 11,000+ voting members.
“It’s been a year of unprecedented, transformational change for the Recording Academy, and I’m immensely proud to be able to continue our journey of growth with these latest updates to our awards process,” Harvey Mason Jr., the academy’s interim president and CEO, said in a statement Friday.
“While change and progress are key drivers of our actions, one thing will always remain — the Grammy Award is the only peer-driven and peer-voted recognition in music,” he continued. “We are honoured to work alongside the music community year-round to further refine and protect the integrity of the awards process.”
Grammys snub The Weeknd
The major change comes months after The Weeknd blasted the Grammys, calling them “corrupt” after he earned zero nominations despite having the year’s biggest single with Blinding Lights.
For the Grammys’ top four awards — album, song and record of the year, along with best new artist — a nomination review committee of at least 20 music generalists in past years selected the top eight nominees from those voted into the top 20.
The majority of the 84 Grammy categories were voted by nomination review committees, which were intended to safeguard a specific genre’s integrity and to serve as additional checks and balances.
While nominees for some categories like best pop vocal album and best pop solo performance were based purely on votes, a number of genre categories had nomination review committees. Those included the rap, rock, R&B, country, dance/electronic music, American Roots, Latin, jazz and gospel/Christian music fields.
But questions have loomed for years around the nominations process, and music industry players have claimed that members of key nominating committees promote projects they worked on — or projects they favour — based on personal relationships.
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Last year the academy announced that musicians invited to participate in a nomination review committee would have to agree to the terms of a conflict of interest disclosure form, and reveal if they would benefit from an artist’s nomination for that category — whether the ties were financial, familial or creative.
That seemed like a response to former Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan, who was fired only months into her job and days before the 2020 Grammys.
Dugan had said the awards show was rigged and muddled with conflicts of interest.
Doubts about the Grammys voting process reached greater heights when The Weeknd — who topped the charts with Blinding Lights and Heartless, released the hugely successful album After Hours and even performed at the Super Bowl — was snubbed at this year’s show, which were held last month.
The Grammys contrasted most of the other music awards shows, where The Weeknd was a key nominee (he earned 16 Billboard Music Award nominations Thursday), and he vowed to boycott the show.
While some critiqued the nomination review committees, other members preferred them — seeing the committees as a way to protect the integrity of different genres.
For instance, the rap field at the Grammys added a nomination review committee three years after Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won three rap Grammys in 2014 over Kendrick Lamar. That win was heavily criticized by the music community and public — and even Macklemore himself.
Because of the hip-hop duo’s success on the pop charts, some members involved in the Grammys nominee process had tried to push their submissions to the pop field. But that decision was overturned, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were allowed to compete in rap.
Following the debacle, a nomination review committee was added to prevent similar problems from occurring. Fast forward four years to 2021, and the best rap album nominees were debated because the young chart-toppers and streaming juggernauts — like Lil Baby, DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion, Roddy Ricch, Pop Smoke and Juice WRLD — were not nominated.
Instead, nominations went to rappers best known for their lyricism, like Jay Electronica, Freddie Gibbs, D Smoke and Nas, who ultimately won.
The 64th annual Grammy Awards will air live on January 31, 2022. Nominees will be announced later this year.