There’s nothing new about a Grammy boycott — but this year some of the biggest names in music are going to be noticeably absent. After the nominees were announced in November, there were snubs galore, prompting Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, and Lorde to skip this year’s awards show.
“My outlook on it is like, some years you have your year and some years you don’t have your year, and maybe this year wasn’t my year,” Ed said of his lack of nominations. “That’s where the validation comes from, where you actually see people—genuine people—enjoying the songs. I’d rather have, like, a lifetime of people coming up to me and saying, like, ‘This song affects me in this way, in a positive way,’ and like, ‘This song is my wedding song,’ ‘This song was my first kiss,’ than anything else. I think that’s where the validation comes.”
According to HITS Daily Double, Taylor is reportedly not attending after her song “Look What You Made Me Do” was completely shut out and her BFF Lorde will be joining her because she was not asked to perform despite her Best Album nomination. Justin Timberlake has also declined to appear — but he has a Super Bowl to prepare for, so that’s a pretty legitimate excuse.
Grammy boycotts have been going on since the beginning of time, as many artists feel the recording academy is “out of touch” when it comes to popular music, specifically hip-hop. In 1989 Will Smith boycotted the show after it was revealed that the rap category would not be televised. JAY-Z has also boycotted and spoken out about the need to be inclusive. “Rappers deserve more attention from the Grammy committee and from the whole world,” he said in 2002. “If it’s got a gun, everybody knows about it; but if we go on a world tour, no one knows.”
And probably the most outspoken artist when it comes to the flawed Grammys system is Kanye West — who famously interrupted Beck (and later apologized) when he beat Beyoncé for Best Album in 2015. “As artists, we gotta come together to fight the bulls–t they been throwing us with,” he previously stated. “All we need is a fair shot. Let the album lose, let whoever win or lose. My whole point, my purpose, my existence, everything that people try to diss me for is based on just an instant replay plot. Imagine in sports they didn’t have no instant replay plot, and someone could step completely out of bounds.”
Other famous boycotters include Drake, Rihanna, and Frank Ocean — who was not nominated last year after he intentionally missed the deadline to submit his album. “It just doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down,” he explained to The New York Times. “I think the infrastructure of the awarding system and the nomination system and screening system is dated. I’d rather this be my Colin Kaepernick moment for the Grammys than sit there in the audience.”
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