The embattled country hit maker was famously removed from country radio and dropped by sponsors after an ugly incident this winter, caught on camera drunkenly using a racial slur. Wallen was swiftly removed from the spotlight and has remained off the radar ever since — and was even famously banned from consideration at this year’s ACM Awards. He can’t be banned from the Billboard awards, though, which has caused the show’s producers to address the situation directly.
In an unheard-of statement included in the press announce of this year’s nominees, dick clark productions says Wallen’s record-breaking album means he is up for awards — but not welcome at the show, for now. The statement reads as follows:
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.
Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album had come out just a few weeks before the controversy broke, and at the time, was already on top of both Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and the all-genre Billboard 200. It went on to spend 12 weeks atop the country chart and 10 on the Billboard 200 — setting a new record for a country album — and some fans have continued to protest his “cancellation.”
The 2021 Billboard Music Awards broadcast is set to air live May 23 on NBC at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on NBC. And Wallen has recently begun emerging back into public life, first posting an update about his personal journey, and then sharing a photo of himself and fellow country star Eric Church fishing.