Every year after the Recording Academy announces its extensive list of Grammy nominations (which it did this morning), music fans take to the internet to point out the artists and works they feel should have been up for certain awards. One thing that doesn’t usually happen, though, is the Academy addressing those snubs, but interim president/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. has done so this year.
The Weeknd didn’t earn a single nomination despite having one of the year’s most successful and beloved albums in After Hours, and Harry Styles’ Fine Line and accompanying singles were also excluded from the Big Four categories (Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist). Mason was asked about that in a new Billboard interview, as the publication’s Paul Grein said, “I was shocked that The Weeknd wasn’t nominated at all, and that Harry Styles wasn’t nominated in any of the Big Four categories. Why do you think they weren’t nominated?” Mason responded:
“For The Weeknd, in every year you only have a certain amount of people you can nominate for each category. As for Harry, he has some great nominations this year [even though he wasn’t nominated in the top categories]. We are excited about some of the other categories where he was nominated. It’s never easy to tell where people are going to land.”
The interviewer then continued, “There was a day where both of these artists would have been nominated for album, record and song of the year. The Grammys have shifted in terms of what they value. Now they seem to value championing newer and less well-known artists over reinforcing things that have already been rewarded in the marketplace.” Mason “hesitantly” (as the publication put it) responded, “Yeah, it’s interesting.”
It was later pointed out to Mason that country artists weren’t well-represented in the Big Four categories, to which he responded, “There are a certain amount of nominations that we can give out. The voting body really determines where those nominations go. We take it very seriously. We review every bit of music that is submitted. From year to year, it is really hard to predict who is going to be nominated and who’s not. I personally wish we could give everybody a nomination, but there are only a certain amount of slots. There were some amazing records that did not get nominated.”
Mason was then pressed, “There doesn’t seem to be a high priority given to making sure country is represented, like there is to making sure the nominations are diverse.” He replied, “We don’t sit down and decide we have to have this person and we have to have that person; We have to have that genre; and we have to have this race. We really are trying to land on quality. In my experience, it’s not really been about trying to even the playing field for every different group and make sure that everyone’s included. It’s really about trying to highlight quality and excellence. We really hope that is a diverse group; that it represents a lot of genres. I think this year if you look at the overall nominations, we have represented more genres than we generally do in our Big Four categories. They’re very diverse across the board in gender, age, and genre.”
Read the full interview here.