Justin Bieber took to Instagram on Nov. 24 to express both his pride and disappointment after being acknowledged by The Recording Academy with nominations in the Pop categories for the 2021 GRAMMY Awards. To Bieber, his 2020 album Changes stands alone as an R&B album, but he was not nominated in any of the R&B categories. Despite his reputation as a pop music icon, Bieber still insisted his album should have been nominated in a different category because of certain technical aspects, like "hip hop drums." Justin Bieber's response to his 2021 GRAMMY nominations has fans split; some agreed with him, while others called him out for making a statement they found to be ungrateful and narrow-minded.
Bieber's statement, first and foremost, expressed his gratitude toward The Recording Academy for nominating him in four categories this year: Best Pop Solo Performance for "Yummy," Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "Intentions," Best Pop Vocal Album for Changes, and Best Country Duo/Group Performance for "10,000 Hours." His Notes app screenshot posted to Instagram got a bit convoluted from there, however, when he insisted "Changes was and is an R&B album" and it was "strange" to him that it is not being acknowledged as such. He concluded the post by stating, "To be clear I absolutely love Pop music it just wasn't what I set out to make this time around."
Initial reactions to his post by other celebrities were positive. Maejor, a frequent collaborator of Bieber's, commented, "Interesting how they classify these things," and thanked Bieber for pointing it out. Ryan Good, the creative director of Bieber's clothing brand, Drew House, simply stated, "Well said."
Other reactions to Bieber's statement weren't as flattering, however. Several journalists said they believed Bieber shouldn't have been nominated in the first place for his song "Yummy," while calling attention to The Weeknd's snub for "Blinding Lights" in the same category. While it's true that Bieber's Changes incorporated key musical elements typically associated with the R&B genre, that hasn't convinced the public that the traditionally pop act should be included in R&B categories.
Some Twitter users were even more critical of Bieber's statement, adding context that some BIPOC were not nominated at all for their work in the same categories Bieber took issue with. In reply to the popular stan news account Pop Crave, one user wrote, "he touched on the very REAL issue of the Grammys dividing pop and r&b noms along racial lines, but instead of pointing out how it has hurt Black artists, he chose to center himself."
Other users poked fun at his statement, saying that he must think R&B stands for "ringtones and boredom."
Bieber has yet to address the backlash over his statement.