Controversy Strikes 2018 Grammys

BY ALEX PEREZ

Sunday night was the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. With a diverse and inclusive range of nominees and performances by the biggest stars in the industry, the ceremony seemed to be going in the right direction. However, issues, ranging from gender inequality to anti-Trump political commentary, sparked controversy on music’s biggest night.

One of the biggest issues many fans and musicians noticed was the underwhelming amount of wins that went to females. With a powerful performance by Kesha and her chorus of female singers, which included Cyndi Lauper, emotional speeches by Janelle Monáe, and Camilla Cabello on the #MeToo movement and immigration, and a good number of female nominees for awards, males ultimately dominated the wins, contradicting what audiences hoped would be a signal for change within the industry.

While there were plenty of women nominated for awards, only one nominee represented women for the night’s biggest award: Album of the Year. Lorde had to compete with Childish Gambino, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, and Bruno Mars for the coveted award. Despite her nomination, fans criticized the Grammys for not allowing Lorde to perform like the rest of the nominees. Her loss to Bruno Mars did further to upset people about the contradictory nature of the Grammys and the apparent gender inequality.

When questioned by reporters from Variety on the perceived gender inequality within the Grammys, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow answered by saying that, in order for the music industry to take them seriously and recognize them, women need to “step up.” Portnow immediately faced backlash from this comment by music fans and musicians alike.

Artist P!nk slammed Portnow on Twitter with a handwritten note expressing how women “have been stepping up since the beginning of time.” Portnow has since apologized and has stated that his comment was taken out of context and was not as “articulate” as he would have hoped, according to Variety.

While fans hoped for more women to win, one of those wins faced some backlash as well. Alessia Cara won Best New Artist on Sunday. However, many fans pointed out on social media that she received initial notoriety for her song, Here, in 2015. Cara’s win was over newer artists like Lil Uzi Vert, SZA, Khalid, and Julia Michaels.

However, according to USA Today, Cara has since defended her win saying that she “had no control over” the win and that she was not going to be “upset about something [she has] wanted since [she] was a kid.”

 

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With immigration and the #MeToo movements highlighted throughout the Grammys, politics become a big part of the ceremony. While artists and presenters made jabs at President Trump throughout the night, the moment that got the most attention was the skit of famous people reading excerpts of “Fire and Fury,” by Michael Wolf. The skit ended with Hillary Clinton reading a passage from the controversial book about President Trump and his administration. While the audience cheered when Hillary appeared on screen, others were not as happy.

Nikki Haley, the United Nations Ambassador, tweeted her displeasure with the Grammys. “I have always loved the Grammys but to have artists read the Fire and Fury book killed it” tweeted Haley, “Don’t ruin great music with trash. Some of us love music without the politics thrown in it.”

Haley was not alone in her criticism of the skit. Donald Trump, Jr. also took to Twitter to bash Clinton. “Getting to read a #fakenews book excerpt at the Grammys seems like a great consolation prize for losing the presidency. #GrammyAwards” said the oldest of President Trump’s children.

Haley and Trump, Jr. faced some criticism themselves for their tweets. Comedian Kumail Nanjiani fired back by pointing out how politics is present in all art forms. The “The Big Sick” star tweeted, “Art has always been political. Music has always been political. Movies have always been political. Books have always been political. Keep your ‘Keep your politics out of my BLANK’ bs outta my face.”

Late night hosts James Corden and Stephen Colbert also took turns to bash Haley and Trump, Jr. on their shows. James Corden, who hosted the Grammys, targeted President Trump’s eldest saying that “If anyone knows anything about consolation prizes, it’s Donald Trump’s second favorite child.”

While the Grammys took place on Sunday, the effects are still being felt today. Fans were hoping for a great night celebrating music, but it seems that they got a little more than what they were hoping for. Women within the music industry are now calling for Recording Academy president Neil Portnow to step down, according to Vulture, and the political nature of the ceremony has caused even more tension between the recording industry and President Trump.

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