Grammy Producers Respond to Frank Ocean Criticism

The longtime creative forces behind the annual Grammys broadcast, producer Ken Ehrlich and writer David Wild, joined the latest episode of Rolling Stone Music Now to preview this year’s show and address past triumphs and controversies.

In one highlight of their conversation with host Brian Hiatt and staff writer Brittany Spanos, they responded to criticism from Frank Ocean – who declined to submit his 2016 music for Grammy consideration and called the awards “dated” and out of touch with music by young black artists – as well as similar critiques from Drake, Kanye West and Justin Bieber. None of those artists are expected to appear on this year’s show, which airs Sunday, February 12th on CBS.

The entire interview with Ehrlich and Wild is available on the latest episode of our podcast, Rolling Stone Music Now. Listen and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Spotify and tune in next week for another episode.

Wild explained that Frank Ocean’s noticeably awkward, minimally staged performance at the 2013 Grammys was entirely Ocean’s vision. “Frank had a very definite idea of exactly what he wanted to do and how he wanted to do it,” Wild said. “Ken said, that’s not great TV, and what he’s taught all of us is, ‘We’re not putting on a radio show … you have to make it a TV moment.’ And he knew from the start that that was not one of those moments.”

Ehrlich added that Ocean was “rigid” about his idea, “and we executed his vision knowing that it was faulty. And we tried to tell him that, we tried to tell his management that, we tried to tell the record label that. So, his feelings about the Grammys right now, I would imagine, probably go back to that in one way. But honestly, it wasn’t us.” (Ocean’s representative didn’t respond to a request for comment.)

Ehrlich also noted that he had invited Drake, West and Bieber to perform on this year’s show. “If they’re concerned about the representation of hip-hop on the show,” he said, “they need to respond and say ‘Yeah, of course I want to do it.’ They’ve all done it in the past. Without overstating it, I think we were very instrumental in the growth of Kanye West’s career. He did epic performances on our show going back to ‘Jesus Walks.’ We know that he’s had his problems this past year, but we pursued him. We would love to have had him here. Same with Drake. But early on, before nominations came out or anything, Drake had already locked in his schedule to be in Europe. So, there’s nothing I can do about that. Justin Bieber, we’re still talking to him – he may or he may not be there.”

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