As Kourtney has expertly edited last Sunday’s 60th Grammys Award, I would like to give my two cents to what has transpired in the aftermath of the Recording Academy president’s utterly tone-deaf quote when asked about the lack of female representation among winners at the Grammys. He did try to clarify his statement further but unleashed more criticism from artists such as Pink, Katy Perry, Sheryl Crow, Halsey, and Kelly Clarkson. Sorry to say this, Neil Portnow, you can’t undo what you said.
So with that said, let’s start with some positives, shall we? First off, I was able to actually get through the entire Grammys without getting sidetracked this time around despite it being still very long. Secondly, it was refreshing to see it taking place in New York. After all, there’s a certain East Coast vibe that is hard to shake off, and what better place to have it in New York to make some poignant statements about the current state of our nation? Don’t get me wrong, Los Angeles is not a shabby place at all, but New York is where you show your grittiness and toughness with brutal honesty, especially when you want to get down to business.
Maybe it was that change in the usual setting coupled with fiery statement performances from Kendrick Lamar, Kesha, Logic/Alessia Cara/Khalid, and others. But the sheer disappointment of watching Bruno Mars winning not just the “Song of the Year” and the “Record of the Year” but also the “Album of the Year” was palpable. Don’t get me wrong. Bruno Mars is a consummate perfectionist, a real professional who lives and breathes funkified pop. Watching him and Cardi B paying homage to “In Living Colors” in their full-blown ’90s remix was extremely entertaining, hitting the right marks by reworking new jack swing for the current generation.
With all the talks of showing respect for hip-hop as a legitimate genre and with Dave Chappelle narrating during Kendrick Lamar’s opener, the acceptance speech and such, I was hoping, just hoping that maybe it would be different this year. So it was a huge let down at the very end. Was I expecting such an outcome? Probably. Did I wish it was different? You bet I did along with countless others who vented their frustration on both social media and various media outlets.
And let’s not forget that the real “Song of the Year” most definitely belonged to “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, representing another music genre that is always getting second-class treatment from the music industry. No wonder why they have a separate Latin Grammys altogether to celebrate the brilliance of their artists. It’s like you’re good enough for live performances to spice things up at the Grammys, but no, you’re not good enough for getting awarded.
Last but not least, the women issue. Yes, there was a fair amount of female artists — Lady Gaga, Pink, Alessia Cara, Sza, Rihanna to name a few — who performed throughout the evening. Kesha’s heart-wrenching performance, with assistance from Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Andra Day, Julia Michaels, Bebe Rexha and the Resistance Revival Chorus, singing her song, “Praying,” which alluded to her pain and suffering that she endured from her very public legal battle with producer Dr. Luke, where the judge ruled against her wish to break free from her contract. Yes, she was singing that song while still tied to Dr. Luke. Just think about it.
While introducing Kesha, Janelle Monae eloquently delivered a powerful speech mentioning the “MeToo” movement by saying “time’s up” and urged the music industry to confront the issue head-on. I have a feeling that the industry has a long way to go. Sadly enough, the industry has a long way to go in terms of accepting and supporting diversity not just by showcasing performances and announcing nominations that are deemed to be diverse but actually awarding those very talented artists who deserve to be recognized. It was even reported that Lorde, who was the only female nominee for the “Album of the Year” award, was not offered a solo performance.
There are many reasons why music has such a powerful effect on people, one being for pure entertainment purpose — people want to have a good time — and another for being an instrumental force, acting as an important conduit to bring people together to convey a specific message. I mean, think about Bob Dylan and his contemporaries in the ’60s. That’s what they did. They wanted to create a movement for the betterment of the world. And how about “We are the World” in the ’80s? You get my point. Music is touted as being a universal language, but it seems like we have yet to reach consensus on what that truly means.
I can’t speak for everyone, but instead of trying to escape from reality, I think we should do more by confronting the ugly side of our society. And boy, we have lots to work with nowadays. So give that a thought. Give due where it’s needed. To deny the genre that has so many young talents that are not only paying respect to those who pioneered the scene but also making their own mark for the future generation. To say that it’s partially the fault of the female artists for not stepping up enough in the music industry to explain the lack of female winners is just plain wrong.
So should we give Grammys another year to shape up? If they want to keep viewers around, they better get their act together soon. Change is happening whether you like it or not, so change, change with time, Grammys.