The Weeknd performed ‘Save Your Tears’ in a thunderstorm at the BRIT Awards, but the most shocking part came after – when Michelle Obama awarded him the Best International Male award.
It may be Tuesday, but everyone was feeling The Weeknd at the 2021 BRIT Awards. After rocking the Super Bowl Halftime Show, casting shade on The Grammys, and hinting that new music was on the horizon, the Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye, 31) delivered a cinematic performance of “Save Your Tears” during the May 11 event. Starting off dressed in a black outfit fitting for the English weather (i.e. raincoat and giant hat), Abel began to sing in a featureless room that, once the camera pulled out, was…outside? This Weeknd stepped out and bathed in the thunderstorm as if the sky was crying.
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But then, everyone was crying – because after The Weeknd performed, host Jack Whitehall brought out a special guest presenter to announce the winner of Best International Male Solo Artist: former First Lady Michelle Obama. Michelle praised the Weeknd and congratulated him on his hard work yielding some massive success. She also thanked him for “donating million to causes like COVID relief, and Black Lives Matters. He’s helped feed those displaced by violence in places like Ethiopia, he’s funded assistance to survivors of the explosion in Lebanon. So let’s just say in a tough year, he’s provided a light that’s pretty blinding and given us all a reason to dance.”
When The Weeknd was announced as one of the 2021 BRIT Awards performers, it was a bit of a spoiler for the International Male Solo Artist category. The Weeknd was nominated along with a wide range of performers: Burna Boy, Tame Impala, Bruce Springsteen, and Childish Gambino (who released 3.15.20 last year, in case you forgot since the record flew relatively under the radar despite being met with critical acclaim.) However, it would be awkward if The Weeknd were to perform at the BRITs only for “The Boss” to take home the trophy – though, it wouldn’t be Abel’s first major snub of 2021.
That would be the Grammy Awards. After his After Hours album was shut out of the 2021 ceremony, The Weeknd went on a tear, accused the Recording Academy of being “corrupt” and claimed that they owed “me, my fans, and the industry transparency.” After a back-and-forth in the press between the Weeknd and interim recording Academy president Harvey Mason Jr., Abel said he would boycott the awards show from now on. “Because of the secret committees,” the Weeknd said, per The New York Times, “I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.”
Well, on April 30, the Recording Academy announced changes to its nomination process. Instead of having nominations finalized by committees of 15-30 music industry “peers” representing their “genre communities,” the final pool of nominees for nearly all Grammy awards will be decided by a majority vote of Academy voting members. Despite this change, Abel isn’t ready to take the Grammys back. “Even though I won’t be submitting my music, the Grammys’ recent admission of corruption will hopefully be a positive move for the future of this plagued award,” he said in a statement to The New York Times, “and give the artist community the respect it deserves with a transparent voting process.”
The Weeknd may be more concerned with releasing new music than dealing with winning awards. If the last record is the after hours of the night,” he tweeted in early May, “then the dawn is coming.” These statements came after he hinted in late April that there is more music on the way. “Made so much magic in the small quarantined room … now just piecing it all together … it’s so beautiful.”
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