Ariana Grande is about to have a very busy weekend, with her album Thank U, Next out at midnight on Friday, but a trip to the Grammy Awards is no longer included on the agenda. According to Variety, not only has the pop star rescinded her RSVP to Sunday’s awards ceremony, but she also canceled her scheduled (but never officially announced) performance during the broadcast after reportedly butting heads with the producers.
A source told the outlet that Grande was “insulted” after Grammys producers wouldn’t allow her to choose which of her songs to perform. Grande reportedly wanted to perform her latest single “7 Rings,” and while the producers finally agreed on the condition that it would be part of a medley performance, when they insisted on choosing the other tracks included in the performance, Grande completely canceled her participation in and attendance at the show. Per Variety‘s source, the already insulting stipulations were made even worse by reports that the producers had imposed no such restrictions on other performers.
Grande’s absence will likely be an embarrassing one for the Recording Academy not only because she’s currently one of the biggest names in music, but also because, despite having yet to announce her as one of the show’s scheduled performers, the Grammys were using her likeness to advertise the broadcast on billboards around Los Angeles. Also expected to skip the ceremony is Taylor Swift, who will presumably support boyfriend Joe Alwyn at the BAFTAs instead and who, like Grande, was snubbed for Album of the Year. (Reputation and Sweetener are both up for the somewhat less prestigious Best Pop Vocal Album, and Grande also nabbed a nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance for “God Is a Woman.”)
The entire snafu is indicative of one of the prevailing criticisms of the Grammys: that it’s nowhere near representative of the music industry, especially in terms of showcasing female artists. Just last year, for example, no women were nominated for Record of the Year, and Lorde was the only female artist included in the Album of the Year race; similar to reports about Grande’s participation, while Lorde’s four male co-nominees were given time to perform songs off their nominated albums during the 2018 broadcast, she was reportedly only offered a spot in the group Tom Petty tribute performance and declined. The major award categories this year include significantly more women than previous years’ nominees, but clearly the Recording Academy still has a ways to go before reaching true parity.
At least come Sunday Grande’s fans will have 12 new tracks to distract them from her notable absence from “Music’s Biggest Night.”