While socially distanced and partially virtual, March 14th still marked the biggest night for music. The show, which was hosted by Trevor Noah, allowed fans at home to tune into CBS Television Network to see which one of their favorite artists took home a Grammy this year. The show came at the heels of a lot of controversy as “Scammys 2021” trended on Twitter, accusing the Grammys of “robbing” many deserving artists of a nomination. Chart-topping musicians like Zayn Malik, The Weeknd, and Halsey received zero nominations.
During the pre-show, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande took home Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Rain on Me,” making them the first female team to do so. This is the same category that BTS was nominated for and lost. BTS fans, known as “Army”, accused the Grammys of using BTS’s popularity for clout, and did not fairly consider them as contestants for the award. Twitter user, @ninaannnelson, said, “it’s the fact that BTS doesn’t need a grammy, it’s the Grammys that need BTS #bts.” Army was anticipating BTS to have a historic win on their first English track, “Dynamite.”
In August 2020, “Dynamite” gained 101.1 million Youtube views in 24 hours which set the record for most views in one day, the Guinness World Record reported. As the first Korean group to be nominated for a Grammy, BTS already made history, but their loss came as a surprise. They were the last performance of the night and filmed their jaw-dropping stage in Seoul, South Korea on a set that resembled the Grammys. After the show, BTS started a VLIVE which lasted 18 minutes and accumulated roughly 7.8 million views during that short time Pinkvilla reported. Within a few hours, their broadcast reached more than 11 million views. BTS’s 18-minute broadcast gained almost as many viewers as the entire award ceremony. The Recording Academy tweeted that The Premiere Ceremony had 12.6 million views. Fans claim BTS’s popularity was used to boost viewership for the show and that they were scammed out of the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance Grammy.
The highly popular R&B and Rap categories, which are usually dominated by people of color, amassed criticism because they were only broadcasted during pre-show rather than live on CBS. Like many others, Twitter user, @zsquared10 was infuriated. “Honestly how about the @RecordingAcad work harder at not being racist and xenophobic #Scammys2021 #scammys.” Fans are questioning why these categories were not aired live, and many speculate underlying corruption in the Grammys which many notable artists also called out.
Singer-songwriter The Weeknd was not nominated for a Grammy this year despite his hit track “Blinding Lights” and album “After Hours” breaking multiple records. IFPI reported that “After Hours” was the second best-selling album worldwide and “Blinding Lights” sat in the top 10 US Billboard Hot 100 for a majority of 2020. After nominations were initially announced, The Weeknd tweeted, “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans, and the industry transparency.”
Zayn Malik also spoke out about being excluded from the nomination list for 83 different categories at this year’s Grammy Awards. On March 19th, Malik posted on his official Twitter account: “F**k the grammys and everyone associated. Unless you shake hands and send gifts, there’s no nomination considerations. Next year I’ll send you a basket of confectionery.” Later that same day, he clarified his statement: “My tweet was not personal or about eligibility but was about the need for inclusion and the lack of transparency of the nomination process and the space that creates and allows favoritism, racism, and networking politics to influence the voting process.”
Halsey made claims similar to both Malik and The Weeknd. On November 28, 2020, Halsey posted on her Instagram story, “It can often be about behind the scenes private performances, knowing the right people…”
Even amidst all the controversy, rapper Megan Three Stallion made a point to unite viewers during the ceremony. During her acceptance speech, she remarked on the power of music during such a difficult year. “Music really helped a lot of us get through the pandemic… So a shout out to everybody who was here today – because a lot of these songs really pushed us all the way through.”