In one of the most surprising moves in Grammy history, the Recording Academy completely shut R&B innovator The Weeknd out of its list of 2021 Grammy Award nominations, which was announced Tuesday, November 24.
The singer (real name Abel Tesfaye) who has the distinction of being a critical darling as well as wildly popular on a mainstream level, was expected by many to lead the list of nominees. His stark — and unexplained — total of zero, zip, zilch nods had experts stunned. "We have never witnessed an omission on the level of this one," entertainment outlet Variety proclaimed.
Indeed, the omission is curious. The Weeknd's song "Blinding Lights" is widely considered to be the biggest single of the year; a No. 1 single that spent 40 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10. The album that spawned it, After Hours, debuted at No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart.
He was fresh off of three wins from Sunday night's American Music Awards, as well has having had scooped up the Video of the Year award at this summer's MTV Video Awards for "Blinding Lights." And, hugest of all, he'd scored what is probably the biggest audience any artist can ever hope to nail down: Namely, the halftime slot for upcoming Super Bowl LV on February 7, 2021.
It's no wonder that music critics were left scratching their heads. Some wondered if the singer's genre-bending output might have caused confusion as to which category to place him, but the Grammys have not had that problem or ignored The Weeknd in such a manner before. He's previously won several times in past years: Best Urban Contemporary Album for Beauty Behind the Madness and Best R&B Performance for "Earned It" in 2016, and another win for Best Urban Contemporary Album in 2018 with Starboy.
The 63rd annual Grammy Awards will be held January 31, 2021, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Comedian Trevor Noah will host the show, the Recording Academy announced.