The Grammy Awards are the biggest night in the music industry. Founded to celebrate artistic achievements for artists by the recording academy, they are meant to celebrate the best music in every genre released that year and show where the industry is at in the last year. From pop and R&B to rock and classical and everything in between, the Grammys should be a joyous night for any artist nominated. However, they fell flat at the 2018 award show.
Nominations were dominated by male artists through all 84 categories, and so were the winners. Of the big three awards- Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year- two of 15 nominees were female, showcasing the industries support of women is lacking severely. Male nominees won all three awards.
Lorde, the sole female nominee in Album of the Year, wasn’t offered a solo performance like the other four men nominated in the same category. The New Zealand native reportedly turned down an offer to perform “American Girl” in the group tribute to Tom Petty.
Taking out a page long ad in the New Zealand Herald the morning after the award show, sewing an excerpt of an essay by Jenny Holzer, a feminist artist, to her dress and even tweeted “IF YOU’RE DEBATING WHETHER OR NOT I CAN MURDER A STAGE… COME SEE IT FOR URSELF” with a link to purchase tickets to her world tour, Lorde used her platform to take a stand on the issues surrounding the industry.
Users took to Twitter with the hashtag #GrammysSoMale about the award winners and performers. When President of the Recording Academy Neil Portnow was asked by Variety about the hashtag, his response was:
“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… [They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome,” said Portnow. “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.”
As for performances, the night used Kesha’s performance as the only talk about #MeToo or #TimesUp where were in full swing by the award show on January 28th. The singer took to the stage surrounded by several other women in the industry to perform “Praying.” Written about “going through hell” and the legal battle between Kesha and producer Dr. Luke, the performance was the most powerful commentary about women’s equality issues of the night.
For an industry that is struggling for representation of women, the Grammys sure proved that to a national audience. The industry has a long way to go on equal representation and opportunities for women, but changes are being made very slowly. Several festivals just pledged to book more gender-balanced lines ups by 2022, which isn’t much for the industry as a whole, but it’s a start.