Kesha singing at the Grammys
Kesha performing at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards (Image via Fuse TV)

#TimesUp for the Grammy Awards: It’s Time to Address the Issues

The 60th Annual Grammy Awards fell flat this year in addressing the issues of gender inequality and sexual violence that are plaguing the nation.

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Kesha singing at the Grammys
Kesha performing at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards (Image via Fuse TV)

The 60th Annual Grammy Awards fell flat this year in addressing the issues of gender inequality and sexual violence that are plaguing the nation.

The Grammys have been growing less and less impressive each year and the 2018 Grammy Awards were no exception. The 60th Annual Grammy Awards took place this past Sunday, Jan. 28, in New York.

The initial prospects looked great: Kesha was set to perform her power ballad “Praying,” as an ode to the #MeToo movement, Elton John and Miley Cyrus were to perform a duet and late night show host James Corden was hosting the evening. However, these promising performers lost their opportunities to make strong, important commentary regarding social justice and most importantly, entertainment.

The Grammys gave a fantastic opportunity to advocate against sexual violence and gender disparity through Kesha’s performance of “Praying,” the power ballad that has turned into the anthem for the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. The lyrical masterpiece was used as a tool to call out an individual who had both sexually and emotionally abused Kesha.

However, Kesha’s voice fell flat and, unfortunately, so did the song’s message. During the performance, Kesha was surrounded on stage by other powerful women in the music industry in an effort to stand together for equality and against sexual violence, but no clear verbal message was made prior to or following the compelling performance.

The Grammys missed a crucial opportunity to provide necessary and purposeful commentary on the ever-present topic of sexual violence. Allowing Kesha to perform such a vulnerable song that references the topic but failing to create a dialogue about it almost seemed inappropriate.

The second opportunity the Grammys had to make meaningful commentary once again surrounded the topic of gender equality. Newcomer Alessia Cara, at the ripe age of 21, won the award for best new artist, making her the only woman to win in any of the popular televised categories this year; though, it’s no coincidence that males dominated the winning field.

Women were clearly underrepresented and their work was not recognized. The most shocking moment of the night came when Ed Sheeran won for best pop vocal performance against four female nominees.

The Grammys had the opportunity to provide gender diversity amongst their winners, and despite the spectacular performances put on by recording artists Pink, Lady Gaga and SZA, they failed to do so. This is indicative of a more widespread gender disparity issue that is happening not just in the music industry but throughout the nation and the world.

Not only did the Grammys fall short in providing gender diversity, but the diversity of individual winners was appalling and bizarre. The evening would better have been named the “Bruno Mars’ Award Show.”

Bruno Mars managed to take home wins in six major categories: album of the year, song of the year, record of the year, best R&B performance, best R&B song and best R&B album. With the plethora of artistic content released in the past year, it seems bizarre that one individual could dominate all six categories.

Not only does it seem wrong, but it made for a dull and repetitive evening of Bruno Mars accepting awards over and over again. However, Mars’ performance of his hit single featuring Cardi B. titled, “Finesse,” supplied an upbeat and enchanting energy that had been lacking throughout the duration of the evening.

Bruno Mars winning a Grammy
Bruno Mars winning one of his Grammy Awards (Image via CNN)

The night grew more bizarre with performances from U2 and a duet from Elton John and Miley Cyrus. The band U2 appeared in the opening performance alongside Kendrick Lamar to sing “XXX.”

Later in the evening, U2 reappeared on a boat performing, “Get Out of Your Own Way,” in front of the Statue of Liberty. They were quite entertaining, but the performance was lackluster and dull on a night that should have been pushing boundaries towards the future instead of staying stuck in the past with older acts.

Elton John was paired with Miley Cyrus to perform a rendition of his hit, “Tiny Dancer.” The pairing symbolized that music is timeless and bridges generational borders. As one would expect, both were vocally exceptional, but the performance itself was irrelevant and unnecessary to the night as a whole in regards to the important gender statements that should have been happening.

With the 60th Annual Grammys being practically a catastrophe, it only made sense that the host of the evening was also a catastrophe. James Corden, host of The Late Late Show on CBS, was greatly absent over the course of the special.

For the times when he was present, it came in the form of pre-recorded video segments. He attempted to implement his beloved Carpool Karaoke piece into the show, which he modified to take place on the New York City subway system. The segment, obviously scripted and fake, offered only cringe-worthy acting and awful comedy.

Corden lacked strong comedic style and appeared nervous when he was present on live television. It felt as if no one was carrying the night or responsible for the disastrous events and lackluster performances.

Former Presidential-hopeful Hillary Clinton appeared in a segment of Corden’s that mocked the spoken word album category of the Grammys. In the video, Corden suggested that Hillary Clinton had the potential to win this category next year and she then appeared reading excerpts from the novel “Fire and Fury,” a book that became infamous for calling out wrongdoings of President Trump and his administration.

The Grammys were willing to take risky stabs at the executive branch, but not at exploring relevant social justice issues. Instead of working to solve societal problems, they chose to complicate and add to them.

Time is up in the music industry and the organizers of the Grammys need to realize the responsibility of the platform they have. Instead of brushing over significant topics, as the most popular music awards show, the Grammys could have made powerful statements in regards to relevant social justice issues.

The evening needs to be more than just a celebration of celebrities — it needs to be about the issues at hand. Topics of gender inequality and sexual violence deserved to be addressed, but the Grammys failed to bring them to the forefront of the show.

Writer Profile

Katie Lommen

Saint Louis University
Communication and Psychology

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