Questions To Consider
- What products are the Grammys selling?
- Why does the Grammy Awards show exist?
- How does this representation of diversity connect to the #MeToo movement?
- How have Grammys performances changed in the last 4 years?
- What emotion do the Grammys producers want you to to feel by including more women and people of color?
What We Think
As soon as it opened with Camila Cabello’s “Havana”, I got the feeling this could be a special Grammys. Turns out it was: This Grammys was so satisfying for how many women (especially women of color) performed powerfully and won awards. With Alicia Keys as the host — how laid back and chill can a host be? — it was sure to be full of love and peace.
First Lady Michelle Obama, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, and Jada Pinkett Smith joined their host on stage and talked about what music means to them in a collaborative speech. JLo wore a Beyoncé “Formation” hat.
The show is “just a show”, and the show was truly female-heavy — as it should be, given women’s incredible roles in music industry. But who wins really influences artists’ future careers, so what went on to determine the winners?
Good news there, too. The Recording Academy’s Task Force on Diversity & Inclusion announced that it invited 900 women and people of color to become voting members for the Grammys. Now, the committees are all now either half or majority female. A full 48 percent are now people of color (formerly 37 percent). So inclusion in progress, thanks to the task force.
Both of the tributes were to legendary women: Dolly Parton and Diana Ross who each gave incredible performances that show they’ve still got it.
Even the country category was represented by women in performances by Kasey Musgraves and Brandi Carlile (folk-country).
Whatever you thought of Cardi B’s humping and undulating (Nicki Minaj performing “Anaconda” at the 2014 VMAs, anyone?), she snatched that Best Rap Album award from a bunch of dudes. Overall, black women killed it, winning Best R&B Album (H.E.R.).
And then, Dua Lipa and St. Vincent’s performance of the latter’s song “Masseduction” (mass-seduction, get it?) seemed like a nod to LGBTQ sexuality and to me, it didn’t feel overly created for the male gaze. They sang: “I can’t turn off what turns me on.” (The song won for “Best Rock Song”.)
Who was robbed? In my opinion, Janelle Monae should have won for “Dirty Computer”, an album I basically have on repeat. And Lizzo was nowhere to be seen to bring some real body-positivity. Maybe next year. Ariana Grande was also excluded — she said “thank u, next” to the producers when she wasn’t comfortable with a performance they suggested.
I had the privilege of attending the Grammys in 2014, where there were a lot of women’s bodies on sexualized display, a lot of people-of-color-for-white-people’s-entertainment, and a whole lotta men. So this was really very different, and empowering.
The Grammys may have been inspired to change by earlier icky comments by its president that women haven’t been “stepping up”. Or maybe it was the popularity of last year’s message of healing from sexual assault, evidenced in Kesha’s amazing “Prayin'” performance. In any case, with this year’s production and award choices, they’ve gotten a lot closer to parity and giving women the respect they deserve. — Jennifer Berger
Where We Saw It
The 61st Annual Grammy Awards, CBS, February 10, 2019
Take Action Now!
We complain when we’re outraged, so let’s also thank the folks who made this show inspiring and positive. Remember, paper letters actually make a huge difference and stand out.
Ken Ehrlich, Grammys Producer
Facebook Page for Ken Ehrlich Productions
Address: 136 Hampstead Ct / Westlake Village, CA 91361
Phone: (818) 995-6967
Recording Industry Association of America
On Twitter @RIAA
Address: 1025 F Street NW / Washington, DC 20004
Phone: (202) 775-0101
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Phone: (212) 975-4321