Morgan Wallen has had great success on the Billboard charts in the past year, with his second studio album, Dangerous: The Double Album, spending 12 weeks at No. 1 on Top Country Albums and 10 weeks atop the all-genre Billboard 200. This chart success explains why he is a finalist in five categories at this year’s Billboard Music Awards.
But Wallen won’t appear on the Billboard Music Awards broadcast, which is set to air live May 23 on NBC. This is the result of a Jan. 31 incident in which Wallen used the N-word with friends as they were entering his Nashville home; the incident was videotaped and posted Feb. 2 on TMZ.
dick clark productions, which produces the Billboard Music Awards, released a statement Thursday (April 29) to explain why Wallen is a BBMA finalist, and why he won’t appear on the show this year.
“Unique among awards shows, Billboard Music Awards (BBMA) finalists are determined by performance on the Billboard charts, and are not chosen by a voting committee or membership organization. BBMA finalists and winners are based on key fan interactions with music (including album and digital song sales, streaming, radio airplay, social engagement), tracked by Billboard and its data partners, including MRC Data.
“With our content reaching millions of viewers, dcp and MRC have the privilege and responsibility to effect change by creating a more inclusive dialogue in our productions and across the industry.
“Morgan Wallen is a finalist this year based on charting. As his recent conduct does not align with our core values, we will not be including him on the show in any capacity (performing, presenting, accepting).
“It is heartening and encouraging to hear that Morgan is taking steps in his anti-racist journey and starting to do some meaningful work. We plan to evaluate his progress and will consider his participation in future shows.”
The BBMAs is not the first major awards show to not allow Wallen to appear. On Feb. 3, the Academy of Country Music announced that Wallen would not appear on the 56th Annual ACM Awards, which aired on April 19, and that he was declared ineligible to compete. (Those awards, unlike the BBMAs, are based on the preferences of academy voting members.)
On Feb. 10, Wallen released a videotaped apology in which he asked his fans not to defend him.
This year’s BBMAs includes 51 categories. There are also special awards, including the Changemaker Award, which was introduced last year. Rapper Killer Mike was the first recipient, in recognition of his social activism amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement. The award was presented by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. This year’s Changemaker honoree will be announced in the coming weeks.
The 2021 Billboard Music Awards are set to air Sunday, May 23, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on NBC from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The show will air live across the country.
This year’s awards are based on the chart period of March 21, 2020 through April 3, 2021.
The 2021 Billboard Music Awards is produced by dick clark productions. Barry Adelman and Robert Deaton are executive producers.
The Billboard Music Awards are produced by dick clark productions, which is owned by MRC. MRC and Penske Media are co-parent companies of Billboard.