- The Weeknd accused the Grammys of corruption and a lack of transparency after he was snubbed with zero nominations this year.
- Reports suggested that talks between the singer and the Recording Academy regarding his performance at the show and the Super Bowl turned sour, but the president of the Academy denies that it had anything to do with his lack of nominations.
- Justin Bieber also slammed the Grammys for nominating him in pop categories when considered his album R&B. While genre is often a point of contention at the show, many think that his placement in pop is not unfounded.
- Nicki Minaj also brought up her 2012 Best New Artist loss, when Bon Iver beat her out for the trophy. She pointed to this moment as an example of the Grammy’s history of exclusion when it comes to women and artists of color, which the show promises it is working on.
The Weeknd’s Major Snubs
Major artists including The Weeknd, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj slammed the Grammy Awards on Tuesday after the Recording Academy released their 2021 nominations.
Heading into the announcement, The Weeknd was a favorite to be nominated in major categories for his album “After Hours” and his song “Blinding Lights” after both received huge critical and commercial success. “Blinding Lights” has broken Billboard records and The Weeknd is slated to perform at the Super Bowl, making him the perfect candidate not just for nominations, but for wins as well. So, when he ended up with a whopping zero nominations, it was largely considered the biggest snub of the day.
Kid Cudi took to Twitter to say the singer was “robbed” and Elton John wrote on Instagram that The Weeknd should have won Song and Record of the Year. The Weeknd chimed in himself, writing that the Grammys “remain corrupt.”
“You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency,” he added.
The Grammys are no stranger to criticism of this kind and have long faced accusations of corruption for having “boys club” leadership and for excluding women and artists of color in nominations and performances. In this case, reports indicate that The Weeknd may have been referring to a specific situation regarding the potential of him performing at the show and how that may have clashed with his spot on the Super Bowl lineup.
“There were many conversations between the Grammys and the Weeknd team about his performance slated for the 2021 Grammys,” a source told Rolling Stone. “There was an ultimatum given resulting in a struggle over him also playing the Super Bowl that went on for some time and was eventually agreed upon that he would perform at both events.”
A source told TMZ that the Grammys were the party that handed out that ultimatum, essentially saying “it’s us or it’s the Super Bowl.” While they did reach a place where both could happen, the talks were allegedly testy, and come nomination day, The Weeknd was left empty-handed.
As for why talks of this nature could get heated, the Grammys is a concert just as much as it is an awards show. Their slate of performers is arguably more precious than their nominations because those performances are what draw in the show’s much sought after viewers. Why the Recording Academy may have viewed The Weeknd’s Super Bowl performance as a threat to this is unclear, but its Chair and Interim President and CEO Harvey Mason Jr. denied that these discussions had anything to do with The Weeknd’s lack of nods.
“We understand that the Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated. I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling,” he told Rolling Stone.
“We would have loved to have him also perform on the Grammy stage the weekend before [the Super Bowl]. Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists,” he added. “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.”
For what it’s worth, The Weeknd and other industry insiders likely knew about the Super Bowl performance prior to the public announcement, though exactly when is of course unknown. But Mason Jr. maintains that the nominations were not impacted by this.
Still, The Weeknd took to Twitter again on Wednesday further expressing his frustrations by the ordeal.
“Collaboratively planning a performance for weeks to not being invited? In my opinion zero nominations = you’re not invited!” he wrote.
He also is receiving a lot of support for his comments. His initial tweet about the situation has over 1 million likes as of Wednesday morning, and his Instagram post saying the same thing has over 2 million. Big names including Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and Pharrell Williams are among those who liked his Instagram post.
Justin Bieber’s Genre Placement
Justin Bieber also called the show out, though not because he was not nominated, but instead because of what he was nominated for. Bieber landed a handful of nominations, including Best Pop Vocal Album for “Changes” and Best Pop Solo Performance for “Yummy.” He took to Instagram to express that pop is not where he would have placed his work.
“To the Grammys I am flattered to be acknowledged and appreciated for my artistry. I am very meticulous and intentional about my music,” he wrote. “With that being said I set out to make an R&B album. ‘Changes’ was and is an R&B album. It is not being acknowledged as an R&B album which is very strange to me.”
“For this not to be put into that category feels weird considering from the chords to the melodies to the vocal style, all the way down to the hip-hop drums that were chosen, it is undeniably, unmistakably an R&B album!” he argued.
Though, his complaints were met with less support than The Weeknd’s. Reviews for “Changes” were mixed at best. While both Rolling Stone and Pitchfork identified it as an album persuaded by both pop and R&B, the latter outlet said “Changes” “has all the glow and eroticism of an airport terminal.”
When it comes down to what genre an artist is placed in, that choice is made by experts in each genre, which include producers, artists and more.
“Pop is a field that is often a point of contention or confusion: An artist who is popular, like Post Malone or Macklemore, may be rejected by a genre committee, like Rap, because the people on that committee consider them to be Pop artists,” Jem Aswad explained for Variety. “In that context, it is difficult to imagine the R&B committee considering Bieber’s lite take on R&B music to be suitable for the category.”
Aswad also said that genre confusion and overlap could have contributed to some of The Weeknd’s snubs. However, Bieber and this year’s nominations aside, genre placement, in general, has historically been a hot topic when it comes to the Grammys, specifically when it comes to how artists of color are treated and excluded. Many artists have spoken out about this, including Tyler the Creator, who chimed in on the subject after the 2020 show.
“It sucks that whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me — do anything that’s genre-bending or that’s anything they always put it in a rap or urban category,” he said. “I don’t like that ‘urban’ word — it’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me.”
The “Urban” category has since been renamed to “Progressive R&B” but the conversation about these categories and what they mean is still very much ongoing. Regarding where Bieber fits into this narrative of issues with genre at the show, many thought a pop placement for him was fair and some even mocked him online for complaining. Mason Jr. also defended the genre and nomination process while speaking to Variety.
“The people [in the committees] are music professionals — they are excellent, at the top of their craft in songwriting and producing, and there are a lot of artists,” he explained. “They critically [listen] to every song that comes across their desks.”
Nicki Minaj Talks Diversity
The Grammys are still not in the clear when it comes to their issues with representation and diversity. Rapper Nicki Minaj tweeted about her Best New Artist loss in 2012, which many feel showcases the issues the Recording Academy still has.
“Never forget the Grammys didn’t give me my best new artist award when I had 7 songs simultaneously charting on billboard & bigger first week than any female rapper in the last decade- went on to inspire a generation,” she wrote. “They gave it to the white man Bon Iver.”
While you could argue whether or not Bon Iver, Nicki Minaj, or any of the other nominees that year deserved the trophy, what can’t be argued is the show’s history with a lack of representation when it comes to celebrating women and people of color in music. This is something the Grammys claims to be working on. According to the L.A. Times, the Academy invited over 2,000 new voters this year that were 48% women and 37% from traditionally underrepresented communities.
“It’s really a new era for us and a time of transformative change,” Kelley Purcell, the Academy’s Senior Director of Member Outreach told the outlet. “It’s important for us to not only be reflective of what’s happening in the music industry but also to be a leader and to set a positive example for the music industry.”
For what it’s worth, some of the nominations this year do show progress, particularly with gender inclusion. For the first time ever, all the nominees in Best Rock Performance are female. Female-led acts also took up every nomination in Best Country Album, and dominated other country categories.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Variety) (Los Angeles Times)
Andrew Tate to Remain in Romanian Detention After Losing Appeal
The controversial influencer, accused of sex trafficking and organized crime, has maintained his innocence.
A Romanian court on Wednesday upheld a judge’s decision to extend influencer Andrew Tate’s arrest another 30 days.
The judge initially tacked the extra time onto his detention on Jan. 20. According to BBC News, the judge cited “the capacity…of the defendants to exercise permanent psychological control over the victims, including by resorting to constant acts of violence”.
Tate appealed that decision alongside his brother and two others, all of whom were arrested as part of an ongoing sex trafficking and organized crime investigation. The court’s Wednesday decision rejected that appeal, meaning Tate and the other accused individuals will remain in custody until at least Feb. 27.
Investigators claim that Tate lured victims under the guise of a romantic relationship, only to place them under surveillance and force them to make pornographic content. Tate has denied the accusations.
“You know I’m innocent,” Tate said to reporters Wednesday morning while walking into the courtroom.
“Ask them for evidence and they will give you none,” he added while leaving court. “Because it doesn’t exist. You’ll find out the truth of this case soon.”
Tate’s Controversial Online Presence
Ever since December his arrest, Tate’s Twitter account has continued to post sometimes cryptic messages about the investigation into him.
“Would your life be fine without you?” he tweeted on Tuesday, one day before his appeal was rejected. “In Romania. They can steal your life without a trial. They do not need evidence, In this system, innocent men return to ruined lives. My life outside is fine. But for most men, 6 months detained and their whole life will crumble.”
Tate is a controversial online figure famous for spreading violent misogyny to his often young male followers. He has been banned by a number of social media platforms for his drastic remarks, including one where he said rape victims should “bear responsibility” for the assault they endured.
Tate and his brother recently added high-profile lawyer Tina Glandian to their defense team. Glandian has previously represented celebrities like Chris Brown, Jussie Smollett, and Kesha.
On Wednesday, she said there is a “lack of evidence against the Tate brothers.”
“So far the system has failed,” she said, via the Associated Press.
See what others are saying: (BBC News) (The Associated Press) (Rolling Stone)
QTCinderalla Vows to Sue Deepfake Website: “Constant Objectification” is “Exhausting”
The streamer said that anyone who chooses to view nonconsensual deepfake porn is “the problem.”
QTCinderella Plans Legal Action
Twitch streamer QTCinderalla said during a Monday stream that she is going to sue the maker of a website that hosts explicit deepfake images of herself and other content creators.
“I promise you, with every part of my fucking soul, I am going to sue you,” QTCinderella, whose real name is Blaire, said through tears.
Blaire went live after fellow streamer Atrioc accidentally revealed on Twitch that he had an open tab to a website that hosts deepfake porn. Graphic images of high-profile female streamers were visible his browser, and the website also includes deepfakes of more creators, including Blaire.
Atrioc apologized for accessing deepfake images on a website that promotes explicit content of his female streaming colleagues. He claimed that he got “morbidly curious” and “clicked something” after falling down an artificial intelligence rabbit hole online.
“It’s gross,” he said. “It’s gross and I’m sorry.”
In the past, Blaire has talked about having to pay services thousands of dollars to remove graphic deepfake content that has been posted without her consent. Despite those efforts, it is an issue she still has to deal with on a regular basis.
“Fuck the fucking Internet,” she said during her Monday stream. “Fuck the constant objectification and exploitation of women, it’s exhausting.”
“Fuck Atrioc for showing it to thousands of people,” she continued. “Fuck the people DMing me pictures of myself from that website.”
The Objectification of Female Streamers
Blaire said that it “should not be a part of [her] job” to constantly fight for this content to be removed from the Internet, nor should it be her job to deal with the onslaught of harassment that comes with the dissemination of these fabricated images.
“If you are able to look at women who are not selling themselves or benefiting off of being seen sexually — they’re not benefiting, they’re not selling it, they’re not platforming it themselves — if you are able to look at that, you are the problem,” she said. “You see women as an object.”
On Twitter, she explained that the repercussions of these deepfakes go far beyond exploitation and violation.
“The amount of body dysmorphia I’ve experienced since seeing those photos has ruined me,” she said.
She was far from the only person to call out how invasive it is to post or consume deepfake content of people who did not consent to being depicted in a sexual manner.
“Stop sexualizing people without their consent,” Pokimane, who is also among the female streamers featured on the site, said. “That’s it, that’s the tweet.”
“No one should have themselves be put on a deepfake porn website w/o their consent and it’s fucking disgusting at the men who are making light of this shit. fucking despicable,” another person wrote.
Britney Spears Asks For Privacy After Fans Called Cops to Conduct a Wellness Check on Her
Fans said they were concerned after the singer deleted her Instagram account.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was updated to include a statement from Britney Spears
Fans Call 911
Britney Spears said her fans “went a little too far” after some called the police to conduct a wellness check on her.
The fans, many fueled by online conspiracy theories, were concerned about Spears because she deleted her Instagram account. While this is something the singer has done multiple times in the past, her fans thought she had left secret signals in her last post suggesting she needed help.
Some even posted videos of them calling emergency services on TikTok, a platform that is full of conspiracy videos about Spears.
“I love and adore my fans but this time things went a little too far and my privacy was invaded,” Spears wrote in a statement on Thursday, citing “prank phone calls” that were made to police.
According to Spears, officers did not enter her home because once they got to her gate, they “quickly realized there was no issue and left immediately.”
“This felt like I was being gaslit and bullied once the incident made it to the news and being portrayed once again in a poor and unfair light by the media,” Spears continued. “During this time in my life, I truly hope the public and my fans who I care so much about can respect my privacy moving forward.”
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Ventura County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to Page Six that the department “did get calls into our dispatch” but added there was no reason to believe that Spears was “in any kind of harm or any kind of danger.”
That spokesperson declined to say if officials contacted Spears or conducted a wellness check, citing privacy and public trust issues.
The Prominence of Britney Spears Conspiracies
Just over a year has passed since Spears was freed from a highly restrictive conservatorship that controlled her life and finances for 13 years. Throughout the conservatorship, fans tried to use the pop icon’s social media to pick up clues that she was secretly struggling. She did not publicly speak about the conservatorship until the summer of 2021.
Now that she has her freedom, fans are still reading heavily into her posts. Some believe there are hidden messages in her captions and in the gestures she does while dancing. Others think she is dead, missing, or hiding and that a body double is being used in her posts. Some are so concerned that they are coordinating a mass effort to pressure the Los Angeles Times into investigating Spears’ whereabouts and safety.
In the last several years, many have reflected on Spears’ early days in the spotlight and the cruel ways she was harassed and targeted by paparazzi, news outlets, and culture at large. Often the punchline to a joke throughout the 2000s, many now sympathize with Spears, who was forced to endure heavy public scrutiny at a young age. Documentaries like “Framing Britney Spears” prompted many to see Spears as a victim of abusive media tactics, not the “crazy” woman tabloids painted her to be.
Many are now concerned that fans are only going to subject Spears to a new onslaught of harassment by calling the police to her house. Even if the conspiracy theories are technically well-intentioned and often come from a place of concern, some believe they will jumpstart a media frenzy that could harm Spears’ mental well-being.