Grammys scraps nomination reviews, returns to straight vote for winners

National News

Various Grammy Awards are displayed at the Grammy Museum Experience at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

NEW YORK — The Grammy Awards have changed its tune and voted to remove its anonymous nomination review committees — groups that determined the contenders for key awards at the coveted music show.

Nominees will now be based purely on votes made by the academy’s 11,000+ voting members, and the academy said that “more than 90 percent of its members will have gone through the requalification process by the end of this year, ensuring that the voting body is actively engaged in music creation.”

The Recording Academy made the announcement Friday after the board of trustees met and approved the change.

“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.

“This is a new Academy, one that is driven to action and that has doubled down on the commitment to meeting the needs of the music community. 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 honored to work alongside the music community year-round to further refine and protect the integrity of the awards process.”

The Weeknd poses at the 58th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 15, 2016. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

The major change comes months after The Weeknd blasted the Grammys and called them “corrupt” after he earned zero nominations for the 2021 show 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 80-plus 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.

But questions have loomed for years around the nominations process with music industry players calling for more transparency because the selection of finalists happens behind closed doors.

Doubts about the Grammys voting process reached greater heights when The Weeknd was severely snubbed at this year’s show, 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.

Change has been a center of conversation at the Grammys for years. The organization has been criticized over the diversity in its top prizes, which rarely go to rap and contemporary R&B stars, including heavyweights like Beyoncé, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Drake, Jay-Z, Mariah Carey and John Legend.

While those acts have won in the rap and R&B categories, when it comes to major prizes such as album, song and record of the year, the winners tend to be in the pop, rock, jazz or country genres. The organization has also been targeted for its lack of female winners in the top categories.

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