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Grammys 2018: Awards and Performances

          The 60th Annual Grammy Awards kicked off on Sunday, January 28 at 7:30 . The official awards ceremony started after the Red Carpet. Many artists wore white roses, in solidarity with the Time’s Up initiative, a legal fund to support those who have ever experienced sexual assault, harassment, and inequality in the workplace. The show was at Madison Square Garden for the first time since 2003. This year’s Grammys were highly anticipated due to the waves caused by the #MeToo movement and the current political climate.

           This year’s Grammy host was James Corden, the host of the Late Late Show on CBS. This year’s nominees were the most diverse they have ever been. Jay-Z was the most-nominated artist with eight nominations, including nominations for Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year. However, he was shut out from all the major awards while Bruno Mars was the biggest winner of this year. Bruno Mars’ album “24K Magic” brought him seven awards, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year for the song “24K Magic”  and Song of the Year for “That’s What I Like”.

          The first performance of the night was Kendrick Lamar. He performed a mashup of four of his songs beginning with “XXX”, then “DNA” and then verses from two new songs, “New Freezer” and “King’s Dead” which is from the recently released Black Panther soundtrack. Lamar was surrounded by men in army uniforms with a digitized American flag waving behind them. Dave Chappelle made the occasional interruption and said once, “The only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America, is being an honest black man in America.” There was even a short cameo from U2 in the beginning of the performance. The performance was by far the most politically charged in this year’s show. Lamar won the award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for his song “Loyalty” featuring Rihanna.

           Alessia Cara won the award for Best New Artist, and she gave an emotional acceptance speech saying, “I’ve been pretend-winning Grammys since I was a kid.” The night featured many performers, including Lady Gaga with her songs “Joanne” and “Million Reasons”, Sam Smith with his hit song “Pray”, P!nk with her emotional song “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken” and Childish Gambino performing his song “Terrified”. Bruno Mars and Cardi B also hit the stage with the remix of Mars’ song “Finesse” in a colorful performance. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee also performed their summer smash “Despacito.” Rihanna, Bryson Tiller, and DJ Khaled also performed their hit “Wild Thoughts” and brought a fun, frisky energy to the stage.

           Going along with the political theme of the night, there was an amusing segment in which artists like Cardi B, Cher, John Legend, Snoop Dogg and in the end, Hillary Clinton, read out parts of Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury”, the inside look of President Trump’s White House. They were auditioning to read for the audiobook, and at one point, Cardi B even said in disbelief, “This (is) how he lives his life?”            

            Kesha also took the stage along with Camila Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Bebe Rexha, Julia Michaels, Andra Day, and the Resistance Revival Chorus with her anthem “Praying” in honor of the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp. It was a monumental performance with all the artists belting out the lyrics “I hope you’re somewhere praying, praying / I hope your soul is changing”. The performance was preceded by Janelle Monae giving a defiant speech saying, “And to those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s up.”           

           Maren Morris, Eric Church, and Brothers Osborne gave a heart-rending tribute to the Las Vegas shooting victims with “Tears in Heaven”. They all had performed in Las Vegas that night and paid tribute to all the souls lost that night. Ben Platt and Broadway legend Patti Lupone gave soaring performances in honor of Leonard Bernstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Chris Stapleton and Emmylou Harris paid a tender tribute to Tom Petty with his 1994 hit “Wildflowers”.

         The last performance of the night was rapper Logic’s “1-800-273-8255” featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid. The performance was incredibly moving and heartfelt, but even more so because of the presence of suicide attempt survivors and friends and relatives of suicide victims. Logic ended the performance with a speech addressing the #MeToo movement by saying, “Stand tall and crush all predators under the weight of your heart that is full of the love that they will never take away from you”. He also clapped back at President Trump’s comment about immigrants, saying “You are not —-holes” and also, “Bring us your tired, your poor and any immigrant who seeks refuge. For together, we can build not just a better country, but a world that is destined to be united.” The speech was given roaring approval and a standing ovation by the audience.

         While the nominees of this year’s Grammys were the most diverse they have ever been, there still is a long way to go. Rappers and hip-hop artists like Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z were repeatedly shut out of major awards in favor of the more pop-influenced Bruno Mars. Alessia Cara was the only woman to receive an award in the live show. Lorde was the only woman nominated for Album of the Year, as opposed to the nominees of the award for Best Pop Solo Performance which included Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga, P!nk, Kesha, and Ed Sheeran but the award went to Ed Sheeran anyways for his song, “Shape of You”. The show was quite entertaining, but still left something to be said, especially about the #MeToo movement. After all, as Janelle Monae said in her speech, “We come in peace, but we mean business.” The music industry still needs to accept that completely. Hopefully, more people will be given the recognition they deserve for their achievements in music in the years to come.