Amid the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements, this year’s Grammy Awards were a male-dominated affair — despite women taking center stage with powerful messages about the need for equality and attendees showing solidarity with victims of sexual harassment and assault by wearing white roses.
Men took home more gramophones during the CBS telecast with Alessia Cara (best new artist) and Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman (best country duo/group performance) among the very few women to win and have their acceptance speeches get airtime on the 60th annual show. The hashtag #GrammysSoMale was even trending on Twitter.
The night’s most prominent winner of the night was Bruno Mars, who took home seven total trophies including the two biggest awards of album of the year and record of the year for his 24K Magic album.
Another top headliner on the winner’s list was Kendrick Lamar, who had wins in the best rap album and best rap/sung collaboration which he accepted with Rihanna for “Loyalty.”
JAY-Z who had the most nominations of the night – with eight – did not take a single victory this year.
Though women, such as Kesha and SZA, took center stage with powerful performances, both female artists were shut out of their categories. Most prominently, Ed Sheeran’s best pop solo performance Grammy had many in Madison Square Garden and elsewhere outraged as he was the only man nominated in the category with Kelly Clarkson, Kesha, Lady Gaga and Pink.
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In addition, Lorde was the only artist nominated for Album of the Year who wasn’t asked to perform at the show, according to TMZ, who was the first to report.
Women who did perform (solo or in a group) during the broadcast included Rihanna, Cardi B, Maren Morris, Lady Gaga, Little Big Town’s Fairchild and Schlapman, Miley Cyrus, Pink, Patti Lupone and Cara.
Presenter Janelle Monae commanded the stage with a poignant speech before introducing Kesha’s “Praying” segment.
“Tonight I am proud to stand in solidarity as just not an artist but a young woman with my fellow sisters who make up the music industry: artists, writers, assistants, publicists, CEO, producers, engineers and women from all sectors of the business. We are also daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, and human being,” Monae said.
“We come in peace but we mean business. And to those who would dare try to silence us. We offer two words: Time’s up. We say time’s up for pay inequality. Time’s up for discrimination. Time’s up for harassment of any kind. And time’s up for the abuse of power because you see it’s not just going on in Hollywood, it’s not just going on in Washington, it’s right here in our industry. And just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that doesn’t serve us well. So let’s work together,” the singer/actress continued.
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Concluding, “Women and men as a united music industry committed to creating safe work environments, equal pay, and access for all women. And as artists so often do our next performer embodies the great tradition of delivering important social messages. This fearless two time Grammy nominee inspires so many of us, including myself when she spoke her truth on her album Rainbow, which is nominated for best pop vocal album tonight.”
To donate to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which will provide subsidized legal support to women and men in all industries who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace, visit its GoFundMe page. Learn more about Time’s Up, an organization of women in entertainment combating sexual harassment and inequality, on its website.
Before the start of the show, Monae also tweeted a startling statistic from the University of Southern California Annenberg Inclusion Initiative about the gender breakdown of Grammy Award nominees.
“A total of 90.7% of nominees between 2013 and 2018 were male, meaning just 9.3% were women. #TimesUp #Grammys,” the singer/actress wrote.
Backstage, Chris Stapleton, who won three out of three nominations in the country categories, addressed that his thoughts on why less than a handful of women walked away winners.
“It’s always a hard thing to see things not go somebody’s way, or whatever. Equality’s certainly something we have to address on a lot of levels,” Stapleton told reporters. “I can’t really speak to how voters all think about how they voted and what happened there.”
Meanwhile, Grammys president Neil Portnow had a clearer opinion about the lack of female winners.
“It has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level,” he said.
“[They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome. I don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face but I think it’s upon us — us as an industry — to make the welcome mat very obvious, breeding opportunities for all people who want to be creative and paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists,” Portnow added.
Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich also spoke to reporters backstage, explaining why Lorde did not perform.
“I don’t know if it was a mistake. These shows are always a matter of choices, and the box gets full. She had a great album, but there’s no way we can really deal with everybody,” he said. “She had a great album. I mean, Album of the Year is a big honor, but there is no way we can really deal with everybody. So, sometimes maybe people get left out that shouldn’t, but on the other hand, we did the best we could to put on a really balanced show.”
According to Variety, he also addressed Taylor Swift’s absence from the awards, saying, “It wasn’t her year. She was kind of off cycle. Hopefully we’ll see her next year.”
The 60th annual Grammy Awards, hosted by James Corden, were broadcast live on CBS from Madison Square Garden in New York City.
- Reporting by MAGGIE PARKER