How the Grammys Stood With #MeToo, Time's Up Movements
The annual music awards show saw white roses and powerful ballads grace its stage Sunday night in New York City — despite a lack of female winners.
After a politically charged opening performance by Kendrick Lamar — who was joined by U2 and comedian Dave Chappelle — James Corden acknowledged the 2018 Grammy Awards' historically diverse crop of nominees, then adding of himself, "We also have, for the second year in a row, the least diverse host in Grammys history.”
The powerful show opener ran in place of any performance from Corden himself, who opened last year with an impressive rap number. Instead, his monologue was short and sweet, keeping up the show's momentum. And instead of calling out the biggest movement of the year, Corden let the white rose on his lapel speak for itself.
It had been announced ahead of Sunday night's ceremony that Grammy artists would be wearing white roses as a symbol of the #MeToo movement and to stand in solidarity with victims of sexual harassment. When the red carpet kicked off, many performers and nominees wore or carried white roses (some men did not).
The hosts of E! News' red carpet shows wore white roses, or pinned them to their microphones, and many of the preshow questions related to the #MeToo movement and Time's Up initiative, focusing on how the music world can contribute to the conversation of wage equality and equal gender representation.
But the biggest nod to the movement was the highly anticipated performance from Kesha (watch in the video player above).
The "fearless" best pop vocal album nominee was introduced to the stage by singer and actress Janelle Monae, who evoked the Time's Up movement and turned its spotlight on the music industry. "We are also daughters, wives, mothers, sisters and human beings. We come in peace but we mean business," she said to applause. "And to those who would dare try to silence us, we offer you two words: time's up."
She continued, "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 as well. And just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that does not serve us well. So let's work together, women and men, as a united music industry committed to creating more safe work environments, equal pay and access for all women."
Kesha, who has been battling her former record producer Dr. Luke in court for years over allegations of emotional and sexual abuse, performed her single inspired by the experience, “Praying,” with Cyndi Lauper, Andra Day, Camila Cabello, Bebe Rexha and Julia Michaels. The women sang before a chorus of women all dressed in white. Kesha, who grew emotional during the performance, ended the powerful set embraced onstage by the group.
"That was an incredibly powerful and relevant performance that comes in the midst of a movement that commands our attention and our support — thank you, Kesha," said Corden.
Pink also performed a powerful, stripped-down rendition of “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken,” singing along with a language interpreter. The song off her Beautiful Trauma album was originally written for the 2015 film Suffragette, centered on the women's suffrage movement in the early 1900s in the U.K., but it didn't make the final cut.
The annual music show had been praised for a diverse set of nominees more reflective of popular music than in years past, as 2018 saw its major categories dominated by rap and R&B. Several winners remained on message during their acceptance speeches, like best new artist winner Alessia Cara, who encouraged the support of real artists, "because everyone deserves the same shot." Cara, however, was one of few women who got the opportunity to accept a televised award, as women were underrepresented when it came to nominations and winners.
The show was also filled with political and social statements, including U2's ode to immigrants in front of the Statue of Liberty; a surprise cameo from Hillary Clinton during a star-studded reading of Trump White House tell-all Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff; country stars Eric Church, Maren Morris and Brothers Osborne led a tribute to the victims of mass violence at concerts in Las Vegas and Manchester; and Alessia Cara, Khalid and Logic's "1-800-273-8255" performance alongside a group of suicide survivors.
The 60th annual Grammy Awards took place Sunday night at New York City's Madison Square Garden and aired live on CBS. Head here for all the winners.