By MIRANDA O’CONNOR
The 60th Annual Grammy Awards, held on January 28, sparked several controversies that are sure to keep the public talking until the next Grammy Awards. While it is an honor for many celebrities to receive a nomination, controversy is often sparked when certain nominees are robbed of a win. Jay-Z was nominated for the most Grammys of the night, with 8 nominations. However, Jay-Z’s walked away empty handed. Other events of the night sparked debate, including Bruno Mars’ towering success over other nominees, Lorde’s sour attitude towards Pink’s empowering performance and Grammy Chief Neil Portnow’s comment towards female artists, stating that women need to “step up” if they want better representation in the industry.
Jay-Z was nominated in eight categories- Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Rap Performance, Best Rap/Sung Performance, Best Rap Album, Producer of the Year, and Best Music Video. Unfortunately, Jay-Z did not win any of these Grammys. Jay-Z, who has won 21 Grammy Awards throughout his career, seemed like a sure win to many people. It is impossible for someone with 21 Grammys to not be extremely talented, so it seems it would also be impossible to not win at least one of eight nominations. Many people took to social media following the Grammys, most flabbergasted at Jay-Z going home empty-handed, and some taking karma’s side and tweeting, such as social media editor Lauren Zupkus, “see what happens when u cheat on beyonce” -@laurenzup.
“…and the Grammy for Album of the Year goes to…Bruno Mars!” “…and the Grammy for Song of the Year goes to…Bruno Mars!” This phrase was repeated 6 times throughout the show, announcing R&B singer and performer Bruno Mars’ Grammy wins. Bruno Mars was nominated for six Grammys and won in all six categories he was nominated in. Mars’ ethnicity also accounted for a break in a decade long “whiteness” streak for Album of the Year, according to Billboard.
So, were the Grammys rigged or can nominee’s wins be attributed to their pure talent? While it seems to be difficult to win in all categories one is nominated for, it takes raw talent, which is tough to argue. Mars’ array of music he produces can support his talent and ability, such as his collaboration with rapper Cardi B on “Finesse”, his older soulful music like “Grenade”, or his dance tunes, such as “Uptown Funk”. Mars is inarguably versatile and talented.
Another controversy that popped up on social media following Pink’s performance of “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken” was Lorde’s distasteful face and baby clapping as the cameras panned the audience. Several sources, such as Cosmopolitan, noted that Lorde’s “disgust” could have been due to the lack of a performance slot despite being nominated for Album of the Year- while all male counterparts with the same nomination performed. It seems possible that Grammy Chief, Neil Portnow, made this decision on purpose, especially following his sexist comment following the show, creating possibly the biggest controversy produced by this year’s Grammy Awards.
Grammy Chief and The Recording Academy President/CEO, Neil Portnow, commented by saying, “Women need to ‘step up’ if they want better representation.” Following this statement, several female music executives are calling for Portnow’s resignation. According to USA Today, many female music executives across the US responded commenting “we do not have to sing louder, jump higher or be nicer to prove ourselves”. Female stars such as Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, Pink, and Sheryl Crow took to social media to express their disappointment in Portnow. Since his comment, Portnow has responded by agreeing in a “poor choice of words”, but he has not formally apologized. It is not that these women expect an apology, but that they deserve respect from the beginning. Females and males in the music industry, or any industry, need to be treated as equals until, in this case, the most talented prevail. It’s 2018, and people apathetic to the fact that there are strong females in this world need to wake up.
While every celebrity awards show seems to be a haven for gossip and large controversy, they also seem to always produce comical or political moments. Following the Grammys, the public took to social media noticing the smaller background moments, including Blue Ivy, Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s daughter, telling her parents to stop embarrassing her, what a diva! James Corden also provided some comic relief as he channeled Oprah in saying “You get a puppy! You get a puppy! You get a puppy!” for all of those Grammy nominees who did not win. However, even this sparked some controversy among animal rights activists. Corden’s actions, which were supposed to be received as comical, prove that no matter what you do, people will always have an opinion or be offended.
Camila Cabello made a large political statement with her support of the DREAMers, stating that “her story is no different from theirs”. The last important event of the Grammys was Pink’s performance. While Pink is known for trapezing above her audience, she chose to dial it back with a simple performance in jeans and a t-shirt to make a strong, feminist statement. Pink’s choice to forgo her usual leotard-like outfits and acrobatic performance style was a powerful statement because she chose to wear jeans and a ripped white t-shirt in solidarity with the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements against sexual harassment. I loved Pink’s choice as she has been a feminist in the public eye for quite some time, and as more women step forward with sexual allegations in solidarity with other women, it is important that we are all in support of each other during these times.
Clearly, you can’t have an award show without a little controversy. From Jay-Z’s complete block out from winning any awards, to the Grammys missing the “year of the women” memo, there was no lack of controversy this year. Until next year…