From the denial of Lorde’s request to perform solo at the awards show (sexism at its finest) to the major upset of Best New Artist (Alessia Cara released her first LP back in 2015, so how can she be considered new in 2017?), the Recording Academy seemed intent on gaining your approval by flaunting a culturally-diverse nominee list while simultaneously making your blood boil. At most, the night was…tolerable.
But there were a few moments, other than the ones above, that are worth talking about. Here are the highlights and pungent soundbites of the 2018 Grammys:
1) Hilary Clinton’s reading of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” – With James Corden hosting, Music’s Biggest Night was bound to get political at some point. What wasn’t expected was the cheeky remarks Cardi B had to say about Trump’s lifestyle before the final sucker punch: the one and only female presidential candidate “auditioning” for next year’s award for Best Spoken Word Album with an excerpt from the New York Times Bestselling book.
2) Ed Sheeran wins Best Pop Solo Performance – Despite how “woke” the Grammys speciously appeared to be this year, controversy still lingered in one of the first awards presented. Hopes were high for Kesha’s “Praying,” a potent yet healing anthem driven by the turmoil the artist endured during her association with Dr. Luke hailed as the show’s #MeToo moment. Its relevance and raw emotion, apparently, wasn’t enough for the Recording Academy, who decided that the libido-driven (“Grab on my waist and put that body on me”? Really?) radio fodder Ed Sheeran has mastered was more worthy and up to par for the award.
3) The tragedy of Jay-Z – The most nominated artist of the night, it seemed like Jay-Z would start getting tired of walking upstage and making acceptance speeches by the halfway point of the show. However, that wasn’t at all the case; like SZA and Khalid, the artist was shut out despite promising starts and extensively profound songwriting.
4) SZA’s performance of “Broken Clocks” – If Obama gives a song the green light, the rest of the world should follow right? Although the song isn’t what the singer with big hair and an even bigger personality is necessarily known for (“The Weekend” and “Love Galore” are the main tracks off of SZA’s debut CTRL that have made her popular for the most part), she highlighted its feminist independence (“I moved on for the better/ You moved on to whomever”), all the while proving she can pull off anything with a fringed basketball jersey and seam-cut jeans.
5) Bruno Mars sweeped – It’s rare to see each nomination become a gramophone record, but that was the case for the Puerto Rican artist who won Album, Record and Song of the Year, as well as Best R&B Performance, Song, and Album with 24K Magic.
6) Honoring the loved ones – With their names displayed behind the performers, the victims of the Las Vegas shooting at the country festival Route 91 were honored with an acoustic performance from Maren Morris, the Osborne Brothers and Eric Church.
Are the Grammys en route to a smaller audience though? It’s not hard to see how the Recording Academy evaluates the recipients of the awards sometimes, placing more significance on commercial success achieved through generic prose and catchiness rather than distinguished or personal lyricism and innovative, immersive instrumentation.
Unfortunately, one thing’s for sure: the snubs can only abound.