The Recording Academy has announced the slate of performers set to appear at this year's Grammy Awards ceremony. The musicians who will be "coming together while safely apart" include nominees Bad Bunny, Black Pumas, BTS, Brandi Carlisle, DaBaby, Doja Cat, Billie Eilish, Mickey Guyton, HAIM, Brittany Howard, Miranda Lambert, Lil Baby, Dua Lipa, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, Megan Thee Stallion, Maren Morris, Post Malone, Roddy Ricch, Harry Styles, and Taylor Swift; non-nominated performers include Cardi B, whose gargantuan 2020 single “WAP” was not submitted for nomination, Tamika D. Mallory, and John Mayer. In addition to the scheduled performers, staff members of COVID-affected venues The Troubadour, Hotel Cafe, the Apollo, and the Station Inn will present certain categories. View the full announcement at the Recording Academy's website.
This year's Grammy Awards are taking place amidst a storm of controversy. Last March, a month-and-a-half after the 2020 Grammy ceremony took place, Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan was relieved of her duties after an internal investigation into allegations that she had committed verbal abuse against her staff. The firing came after Dugan filed an explosive complaint alleging that the Recording Academy was plagued with vicious systemic racism and sexism, and that the board of the Recording Academy had helped cover up the rape of a female recording artist by former Grammys CEO Neil Portnow, an allegation Portnow later denied. In the complaint, Dugan also alleged that rampant fraud had been taking place in the Grammy Awards, with the Recording Academy's historical lack of transparency being used to hide conflicts of interest.
Shortly after the 2020 awards, multiple Black artists stated they felt sidelined or misunderstood by the awards ceremony. After winning his first ever Grammy for 2019's IGOR, Tyler, the Creator called out the categorisation of certain awards in the Grammys, saying: "Whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me — do anything that's genre-bending, or anything, they always put it in a rap or urban category. I don't like that urban word, it's just a politically correct way to say the N-word to me. When I hear that, I'm just like, why can't we just be in pop? Half of me feels like the rap nomination was a backhanded compliment."
Later, FKA twigs, who performed with Usher and Sheila E. during a Prince tribute as a dancer, rather than a singer, stated that she hadn't been asked to sing despite wanting to. "Of course I wanted to sign at the Grammys," she wrote during the broadcast. "I wasn't asked this time but hopefully in the future. None the less what an honour."
The 2021 nominations slate was led by Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Roddy Ricch, and Dua Lipa, but was conspicuously missing any mention of The Weeknd, whose 2020 album After Hours was one of the most critically and commercially successful of the year, and which spawned "Blinding Lights", one of the most commercially successful singles of all time. In the wake of the nominations announcement — which, it has been rumoured, snubbed The Weeknd due to his decision to perform at the Super Bowl despite the Grammys' protests — The Weeknd took to Twitter to call the Grammys "corrupt", stating that he and his fans deserved answers as to why After Hours was snubbed. In response, Grammys CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said that there was no intent of harm behind The Weeknd's snubbing. The Grammys air Sunday, March 14 on CBS.