As yet another awards show rolls out big reforms, one of its most vocal critics isn’t backing down. On Friday, the Recording Academy, which hosts the Grammy Awards, said it was eliminating the secret nominating committees that have been the focus of criticism and controversy recently.
Now, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason, Jr., told Variety, “the ultimate decision [about who gets nominated] falls on thousands of people rather than the nomination review committees.”
The move would seem to be, at least in part, a reaction to The Weeknd’s decision to no longer allow his label to submit his music to the Grammys for awards consideration. In a statement to The New York Times in March, the artist cited the secret committees as the reason for his decision. The statement came after months of uproar over the fact that The Weeknd’s critically acclaimed and commercially successful fourth studio album After Hours did not receive a single Grammy nod.
“Any time an artist, especially one of that stature, calls our process into question or thinks something is unfair,” Mason said, “the Academy is of course going to be affected by that, and want to work to make things better.”
But The Weeknd still isn’t convinced. On Monday, he told Variety that “The trust has been broken for so long between the Grammy organization and artists that it would be unwise to raise a victory flag.” He did sound a cautiously optimistic note, calling the changes “a positive start.”
He also hinted at a possible follow-up to After Hours, recorded during lockdown: “If the last record is the after hours of the night, then the dawn is coming.”
Meanwhile, those in charge of the entertainment industry’s biggest awards shows seem to be experiencing their own dark night of the soul. But will long-awaited changes around inclusion and transparency at the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and the Grammys be enough? Or is it all too little, too late? Will much-needed reforms lead to renewed interest in these hallowed institutions? Or will fans rethink whether awards shows are even necessary? Given the record low ratings for this year’s ceremonies, it seems like they already are.