The 2020 Grammys had so many showstopping performances and incredible red carpet looks that you may not have noticed the conspicuous absence of one of the biggest night's nominees: Taylor Swift. On Jan. 24, Entertainment Tonight confirmed, after much speculation, that Swift — who was nominated for best pop vocal album, song of the year, and best pop solo performance — would not be in attendance at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards. It had even been speculated at one point that Swift might perform at the award show (as rehearsal schedules for the taping at Staples Center had included one mysterious "TBA" artist), but the singer never confirmed nor denied the rumors.
While no explanation was offered for her decision not to attend, fans are speculating that her absence may have been due to former Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan. On Jan. 16, the Recording Academy's board of trustees placed their first-ever female CEO (who'd only held the position for five months) on administrative leave after she was accused of bullying by an assistant. However, Dugan denied the charge, and in response to being ousted, Dugan filed an extensive complaint to the Los Angeles Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, asserting that she was suspended in retaliation for uncovering misconduct and corruption. One of the things Dugan claimed to have uncovered: that the Grammy nomination process had been unfairly manipulated.
During an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 25, Dugan explained that her EEOC complaint was not about the Grammy Awards, but instead about the Academy itself. "The ceremony is about the musicians and the fans," she said. "I don't want to taint that. This is about the Recording Academy. The Recording Academy must change. To bring the Grammys down because of a few bad eggs [at the Academy] wouldn't be fair to the artists."
According to Variety, Swift may have pulled out in solidarity with Dugan. While speculating about her maybe-performance at the Grammys, fans imagined she would perform her feminist anthem "The Man" (which is all about gender inequality and the double standards women are held to), but Dugan's controversy seemingly compelled Swift not to perform — or even attend the show at all. Neither Swift nor her representatives have commented on her reported cancelation of a performance, so we can only speculate about what might be going on behind the scenes.