The Grammys’ long-dubious cultural relevance shrivels further with each passing year, and in 2017, the awards ceremony seems hilariously unfit to wear its own self-proclaimed designation as “Music’s Biggest Night.” It’s clearly NOT music’s biggest night, in any capacity, as proven by high-profile 2017-absentee artists like Frank Ocean (who said, “Winning a TV award doesn’t christen me successful”) and Justin Bieber (who “just doesn’t think the Grammys are relevant or representative”).
So, in a naked, desperate attempt to get some social-media traction and grab some headlines away from Our National Disgrace, Grammys Producer Ken Ehrlich more or less begged the handful of artists who would be attending his ceremony to say something controversial. Please! As Ehrlich told Variety:
One of the tenets of our show is artistic freedom, and over the years we’ve shown we do believe in it. How many more times do we need to hear “I’d like to thank my publicist, my agent, my wife and kids.” The great acceptance speeches are ones that have a point of view and are more personal.
Eat that, publicists, agents, wives, and kids! YA BURNT. When Ehrlich says “personal,” he means “political,” and where better to turn for political insight than drunk, anxious musicians, many of whom aren’t US citizens and have absolutely no understanding of how our government operates? What insights into policy might we glean from the likes of Adele, Bruno Mars, Chance, the Chainsmokers? Guess we’ll find out. We’ll keep track of all the “speeches that have a point of view and are more personal” right here. Come on, you boring-ass wife-thankers! Make the Grammys relevant again!
Joy Villa Rocks A MAGA Dress
Joy Villa is a singer-songwriter who, per Billboard, is “no stranger to turning heads on the red carpet; having a tendency to push boundaries with her fashion choices.” This one definitely sets a weird tone for the night. You can’t see it in any of the pix above, but the back of her dress says TRUMP right along the hem, really going all-in on the WTF-ness of the garment. You know, I think it’s safe to say I don’t agree AT ALL with Joy Villa’s views, but, um, at least she’s saying something.
Jesse & Joy Stand With “Every Minority Group”
Jesse & Joy won the Grammy for best Latin pop album, and in their pre-telecast speech, the duo said:
We are so proud to be Mexican-American so, this goes to all the Hispanics out there in this country. To every minority group, we are with you, we stand with you.
Not exactly Malcolm X over here, but it counts! Congrats, Jesse & Joy.
J-Lo Quotes Toni Morrison
In her Best New Artist introduction speech, Jennifer Lopez got pretty political-ish, saying:
At this particular point in history, our voices are needed more than ever. As Toni Morrison once said, “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, and no room for fear. We do language. That is how civilizations heal.”
She was OBVIOUSLY subbing the Trump administration, and even though it woulda been cool to hear her call out the enemies of civilization by name, a nod to Toni Morrison ain’t bad.
Paris Jackson Shouts Out #NoDAPL
In introducing a performance by the Weekend, Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris veered hard left, saying:
We could really use this kind of excitement at a pipeline protest guys. Hashtag NoDAPL! [pumps fist sort of ironically]
Hey man, say what you want, but she’s right. We COULD use this kind of excitement at a pipeline protest. Paris Jackson goes harder than most metal bands when it comes to politics in 2017.
Katy Perry Rocks A PERSIST Armband
In her performance of new single “Chained 2 The Rhythm,” Hillary surrogate Katy Perry wore an armband with the word PERSIST spelled out in sequin sparklies, and her dancers were stationed behind a white picket fence (aka a “wall”). As the song moved toward its conclusion, the dancers started tearing down the fence, and the Constitution was projected over their bodies. Perry also wore a Planned Parenthood lapel pin. Welcome to #wokepop, motherfuckers!
Katy Perry – Chained To The Rhythm – Grammys 2017 pic.twitter.com/WwL1c5jVxZ
— JAFET (@GODYPERRY) February 13, 2017
James Corden Jokes About “Fake Tweets”
As you may know, our so-called president has a tendency to reject any media critical of him by calling it “fake news.” This is a horrible development that will lead to the erosion of all our institutions, including, over time, the presidency itself. So ANYWAY, Grammys host James Corden gently mocked this behavior by claiming that any mean stuff you might hear about HIM was ALSO fabricated by a Fourth Estate biased against him. Said Corden: “Any negative tweets you see are fake tweets.” Note: This is not true.
Beyoncé Asks Us To “Recognize Our Tendencies To Repeat Our Mistakes”
Lemonade would be a pretty fucking openly political statement in any era or under any presidential administration, so it stands to reason that Beyoncé’s acceptance speech for Lemonade’s Best Urban Contemporary Album win was inherently charged. Here are a few of the key lines:
It’s important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty, so they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror — first at their own families, as well as the news, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the White House, and the Grammys — and see themselves, and have no doubt that they are beautiful, intelligent, and capable. This is something I want for every child of every race, and I feel it’s vital that we learn from the past, and recognize our tendencies to repeat our mistakes.
No one would mistake this for agitprop, but the message is pretty clear: We’ve come a long way as a country, and right now, we’re in serious danger of moving backwards. Beyoncé had to say something of substance, and she delivered.
— Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) February 13, 2017
Laverne Cox Shouts Out #StandUpWithGavin While Introducing One Of The Worst Musical Moments Of The 21st Century
In introducing a Lady Gaga/Metallica collab performance that mirrored the Trump presidency in its awfulness, transgender star Laverne Cox encouraged viewers to Google “Gavin Grimm,” and check out the hashtag StandUpWithGavin — a movement fighting for transgender rights.
— ACLU National (@ACLU) February 4, 2017
Needless to say, Gaga has been a champion of LGBTQ issues over the course of her career, but the folks with whom she shared the stage tonight are quite a bit less vocal about such causes. In fact, Metallica frontman James Hetfield has never “willfully had a political conversation” with his own bandmates, and yet, he recently relocated from San Francisco to Vail, Colorado, because:
I kind of got sick of the Bay Area, the attitudes of the people there, a little bit. They talk about how diverse they are, and things like that, and it’s fine if you’re diverse like them … I felt that there was an elitist attitude there — that if you weren’t their way politically, their way environmentally, all of that, that you were looked down upon. I think in Colorado, everyone is very natural; people are not playing some game, they’re not posturing.
So, Lars, now you know why James moved from your cultural metropolis to a Swiss-style ski village with a population of 5,300 people: He was looking for diversity! He was sick of your posturing! But as a devoutly religious, anti-porn, Libertarian-leaning NRA member, he’s deeply afraid of sharing his views with the world. Glad you guys were able to avoid having an awkward conversation about any of this. Sorry that Grammy performance sucked so goddamn hard.
Q-Tip Shouts Out #TheResistance
Leading into A Tribe Called Quest’s performance with Anderson .Paak, Tribe’s Q-Tip said:
We’d like to say to all of those people around the world — all of those people who are pushing people who are in power to represent them — tonight, we represent you.
Considering the lyrical content of We Got It From Here… (not to mention Tribe’s politics since the very beginning), it’s not a huge surprise to hear Tip make such a dedication. Better to have those guys on your side than freaking Joy Villa any day.
Busta Rhymes Blasts Trump
Busta delivered the most overtly anti-Trump sentiment of the night, saying, “I wanna thank President Agent Orange for perpetuating all the evil” while performing with Tribe for “We The People,” and after it was over, he shouted “RESIST! RESIST!” Busta Rhymes is a badass. Fun fact: Busta’s flow inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda while writing the character of Hercules Mulligan for Hamilton. Dude brings the revolution in real life, too.
NARAS President/CEO Makes A Plea For Congressional Reform Of Safe-Harbor Laws
Closing things out on an insanely vague note, Neil Portnow, the president and CEO of the National Academy Of Recording Arts and Sciences made a long and winding speech that started with some empty platitudes about social tolerance, and made its way to a crazily impassioned plea that Congress reform certain laws that shield people who share content online. In brief: He would like to see those people’s shields taken away, in the interest of protecting the earning potential of copyrights holders. I’m happy to get into this at length, but this is NOT the forum for such a discussion, just as the 2017 Grammys were not the forum for such a discussion. But hey, that’s what we got. Did you expect anything else?