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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Grammys go off-key


Questions arise at lack of women among the winners

The 60th Grammy Awards left me with a myriad of questions, all stemming from my confusion at the lack of female winners.

Is time really up?

If 2017 taught us anything, it’s that women are constantly forced to live in the shadows of men. But last year also showed us that women refuse to be powerless, even in the face of powerful men. In 2017, we saw that together (with or without men’s support), women will take back the power stripped away from them. The Grammys took no notice of this.

In the wake of the Golden Globes, which unveiled the Time’s Up initiative, I believed the Recording Academy might announce their support of the initiative. Apart from Lady Gaga’s exclamation of “Time’s up!” at the end of her performance, the Grammys did not explicitly mention Time’s Up or #MeToo until Janelle Monae introduced Kesha. In her introduction, Monae emphasized the importance of recognizing that powerful men abusing their power were present not only in the film industry, but in the music industry as well.

Kesha’s performance was the most emotional of the night. Surrounded by other women, she sang “Praying,” written after the singer herself experienced sexual assault. The Grammys asked Kesha to stand on that stage, vulnerable in front of the world, and gave her nothing to show for it. As Kesha broke down immediately following her performance, I was sure she would win the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album, but she didn’t. Instead, Ed Sheeran won that category for “Divide,” an album essentially no different than his past works. 

Did only one woman release an album of the year worthy album?

Lorde was the only woman nominated for the Grammys’ most coveted award, Album of the Year. Her competition in the category were all rightly deserving men, but I can’t help but wonder why she was not asked to perform solo like her male counterparts.

Kendrick Lamar opened the show with a six-minute performance. Childish Gambino performed a song from his nominated album, as did Bruno Mars, accompanied by Cardi B. Jay-Z declined to perform. Why was Lorde asked to sing as part of a Tom Petty tribute, instead of performing a song from “Melodrama,” an album that topped many music publications’ charts for best album of 2017?

My frustration stems not merely from the fact that Lorde wasn’t given the opportunity to perform as her male counterparts did, but from the “encouraging” words of the Recording Academy’s president who said women need to “step up.” Following these comments, the Recording Academy president also neatly added his hopes of seeing Taylor Swift at next years’ awards. This leads me to my next question:

Okay, but where were all the black women?

SZA, a black woman, was the most nominated female artist of the night with five nominations. She released her debut studio album “Ctrl” in 2017, which was met with critical acclaim and immense mainstream popularity. In the weeks leading up to the Grammys many news outlets congratulated SZA on this momentous accomplishment, and a lot of the promotion surrounding the Grammys buzzed around the possibility of SZA winning. But on the night of the ceremony, she did not win a single award.

As an artist who made a studio debut in 2017, why didn’t SZA at least win Best New Artist? Alessia Cara, who won that award, released her first album in 2015, nearly three years ago. SZA, meanwhile, dominated 2017 with an album so different from the others she was up against.

Unfortunately, this is not the first year black women have not been celebrated at the Grammys. Lest we forget that Rihanna’s “Anti.”, her eighth studio album, which many recognize as her best, was snubbed at the 59th Grammy Awards.

And whether you believe Beyoncé is overrated, there is no denying that she was snubbed at the 59th Grammy Awards. She was the most nominated artist of the night, so you can guess how many major Grammys she took home (none). “Lemonade,” Beyoncé’s sixth studio album tells a story of black womanhood. Filled with spirit of black women of the past, present and future, “Lemonade” is a celebration of the black woman. On an album where she is most vulnerable, and most powerful, she turns her story of betrayal and forgiveness into a personal yet universal narrative.

Beyoncé did it all, yet this was somehow still not enough. Even Adele believed Beyoncé should have won Album of the Year over her, as Adele recognized the cultural impact of the album on music and black women.

Women made music in 2017 with albums like “SweetSexySavage” by Kehlani, “Trip” by Jhene Aiko, “Take Me Apart” by Kelela, “Something to Tell You” by Haim, “Lust for Life” by Lana del Rey. So what’s the Grammys’ excuse?

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