The Grammys were stacked with female talent, a not-so-subtle rebuke to last year’s ‘step up’ sexism – ThinkProgress


While accepting the award for greatest new artist on the Grammy Awards Sunday night time, Dua Lipa began her speech by saying she was honored “to be nominated alongside so many unimaginable feminine artists.” With a wry smile, she added, “I suppose we actually stepped up this 12 months.”

Following Dua Lipa to the stage was none apart from outgoing Recording Academy president Neil Portnow, who infamously defined the earlier 12 months’s abject failure to acknowledge feminine expertise on the music trade’s greatest night time by saying girls who wished extra recognition on the Grammys wanted to “step up.” His gaffe — awkwardly walked again and in the end apologized for — snapped what had been already strained by an awards ceremony that noticed just one girl, Alessia Cara, win a televised award, and which didn’t grant Lorde, the one feminine nominee for album of the 12 months, a solo efficiency slot.

This 12 months’s present was clearly the results of the Grammys getting berated into addressing its gender points. The origin story just isn’t precisely flattering. However for what it’s value, on Sunday night time there have been indicators of life, of progress, of — if nothing else — proof that Grammys producer Ken Erlich knew the optics can be unforgivable if the present weren’t stacked with feminine performers and presenters.

The night time started with Camila Cabello’s exuberant rendition of “Havana” — for which she was joined by Ricky Martin, Arturo Sandoval, J Balvin, and Younger Thug — right into a welcome from host Alicia Keys, adopted instantly by the oh-so-casual entrance of Michelle Obama, who was flanked by Girl Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Jada Pinkett Smith. Certainly this FLOTUS cameo was assisted by Tina Tchen, Obama’s former chief of workers, now the top of the Recording Academy’s job pressure on variety and inclusion, a gaggle that was fashioned final 12 months to handle documented gender inequality inside the Academy and the music trade extra broadly.

The highest of the present was nearly solely feminine: Girl Gaga accepted night time’s first award when “Shallow” received greatest pop duo/group efficiency (Bradley Cooper was on the BAFTAs and couldn’t be part of her and/or pee onstage throughout her speech). Miley Cyrus joined Shawn Mendes for his single, “In My Blood,” after which Kacey Musgraves — whose Golden Hour received all 4 awards it was up for, together with album of the 12 months — sang “Rainbow.” After Musgraves got here Janelle Monae, whose rendition of “Make Me Really feel” was backed by a electrifying fleet of feminine dancers, a few of whom wore these vagina pants from Monae’s video for “Pink.”

On this method, the Grammys prevented placing males onstage sans girls till almost an hour into the telecast, when Put up Malone (ugh) and the Crimson Sizzling Chili Peppers broke that streak. However quickly the boys went again to their seats and have been all however erased from latest reminiscence by a Dolly Parton-led tribute to Dolly Parton — an icon amongst us! — that featured Musgraves, Maren Morris, Miley Cyrus, Little Large City, and a borderline-manic Katy Perry.

It feels ridiculous to group all these girls collectively as if “feminine” is a style, particularly given the dazzling vary on show: a grand however playful Cardi B., who grew to become the primary feminine solo artist to win the Grammy for greatest rap album; the plush, highly effective guitar of H.E.R., who received two of the 5 Grammys for which she was nominated, together with greatest R&B album; the gorgeous vocals of Brandi Carlile, who went three for six final night time; the incomparable Diana Ross who, like Dolly Parton, carried out a tribute to herself and in addition shouted “Pleased birthday to me!” although her birthday is over a month away. So what? Are you going to inform Diana Ross when she’s allowed to begin celebrating her 75th 12 months on this Earth?

There was exuberance and glee and defiance in all of those performances. It’s nearly as if the Grammys telecast would have been higher all these years if it had been frontloading this type of expertise from the soar: Girls who characterize the total spectrum of what’s thrilling and genuine about music proper now. The Grammys, like different intellectual awards reveals, has struggled to stability rising stars with its reverence for (learn: obsession with) its personal historical past. However Sunday night time’s present appeared to be honing in on a billing that revered historical past with out slicing off the longer term at its knees.

Buzzing beneath the entire night time’s proceedings was that feeling solely made express by Dua Lipa: That this was all an elaborate corrective and/or a very concerned apology to Lorde. Would that it didn’t take such a large failure for the Grammys to course-correct.


Is this a case of higher late than by no means, or is it simply too late?

The Grammy Awards are the largest night time in music, or so the Recording Academy continues to insist regardless of its ever-diminishing visitor checklist. This 12 months, the Academy did not safe a “sure” RSVP from Beyonce, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Infantile Gambino, and 21 Savage — the final one being the one particular person on that checklist who really couldn’t make it, as a result of the rapper, a double nominee this night, stays within the custody of the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement company, the place he has been detained since his arrest final Sunday.

The conspicuous absence of the aforementioned artists — besides, that’s, for when Grande appeared in an Apple’s Animoji industrial and Donald Glover danced in an advert for a brand new Google cellphone — gave the Grammys’ repeated insistence that they completely, positively matter the identical determined, hole air of the drunk woman on the waning occasion cheering about how she’s having the perfect time ever!!

These no-shows are signs of the Recording Academy’s deep, systemic failings, which aren’t so completely different from the failings music trade extra broadly: Racism, sexism, and the denial that both is kind of as dire as critics declare. Artists of colour are so ceaselessly ignored within the large 4 classes that it’s changing into a brand new Grammys custom for white artists to publicly apologize for successful what they know they didn’t deserve.

So, the place was everybody?

Ariana Grande, simply the among the many most prolific and cultural-conversation-dominating pop artists of the 12 months, introduced Thursday that she can be pulling out of a deliberate Grammys efficiency. Stories on how the conflict differ, however Grande, who launched a brand new album this week, tweeted that “it was when my creativity & self expression was stifled by you [Grammy producer Ken Erlich], that i made a decision to not attend.” Selection reported that Grande’s workforce was additionally livid to see Grande’s picture utilized in billboards and promoting to advertise the awards present, contemplating there was no dedication for her participation. She wound up successful her first-ever Grammy for greatest pop vocal album, however she spent the night time at residence within the customized Zac Posen robe she’d deliberate to put on on the pink carpet.

Erlich stated the Grammys additionally provided up efficiency slots to Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Infantile Gambino. However all three declined. Because the ceremony approached, not one of the artists would even verify whether or not or not they deliberate to attend. Drake, for one, hadn’t attended the Grammys since 2013. He confirmed up in any case, successful greatest rap track for “God’s Plan,” however Lamar, probably probably the most egregious of the latest Grammys snubs, opted out. Infantile Gambino’s “This Is America” received 4 awards, together with track of the 12 months, however Glover wasn’t in attendance to simply accept any of them himself.

Jay-Z and Beyonce’s The whole lot is Love was shut out of all the foremost classes; clearly the Carters had higher issues to do than wait round to choose up that coveted “city up to date” trophy they didn’t even know they’d win. Taylor Swift, whose Status was up for greatest pop vocal album, spent the night on the BAFTA Awards in London as her boyfriend’s plus-one. Certain, she’s additionally filming Cats in London. But when the Grammys have been no less than as culturally important as Swift, she’d probably make it her enterprise to attend.

Is there any level in believing in a ceremony that repeatedly fails to provide its highest honors to the worthiest recipients? Is there any salvaging a present that so constantly errs? As pointless because it appears to care in regards to the Grammys and their potential to dole out these awards in some truthful and significant method, possibly there may be, in the end, a cause for cautious optimism. It appears clear that the brand new system, the place the large 4 awards (greatest new artist, plus album, document and track of the 12 months) have eight nominees, up from 5 in years previous, is creating the area for extra various artists to have a shot at extra high prizes. Perhaps this 12 months’s ceremony — whose awards have been voted on by a much bigger and extra various physique than ever earlier than — is a preview of higher Grammy nights to return.


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