As soon as award season rolls around, we typically look for a few specific things: red carpet looks, performances, nominations/wins, and whether or not Beyoncé will attend.
The 60th Annual GRAMMYs were no different. Everyone stood by, devices in hand with screens opened to our social feeds (side note: live-tweeting shit is not the easiest job). However, over the last few years many entertainers have felt more of a need to promote strong messages, whether in their music, their acceptance speeches, or their red carpet interviews.
And rightfully so. On a night where music industry newcomers and veterans are called together to celebrate the accomplishments of the best and brightest, it is absolutely crucial to highlight issues that have been limiting to the careers of so many who attend. Beyond that, it was especially beautiful to see artists fully step into the “role model” job that they probably didn’t even ask for, yet accepted dutifully anyway.
Call the GRAMMYs what you will, but it is always good to know that despite accolades, trophies and critical acclaim, some of our idols aren’t the distant, incomprehensible figures they appear to be when we view them through the veils of their own success. That (plus Blue Ivy’s iconic presence) might have been the GRAMMYs saving grace.
Here are some groundbreaking moments in which artists used their platforms for the greater good:
ALESSIA CARA ON EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL ARTISTS
After receiving the trophy for ‘Best New Artist’ (please hold your comments), Alessia Cara addressed the standards of the music industry, deeming it a “popularity contest”. Her message is one that encourages everyone — from listeners to big label executives — to pay attention to artistry that may not necessarily have the mainstream pull.
Plenty of quality artists spend their lives trying to get to the same level where ironically mediocrity gets elevated to so easily. A lot of those artists were even nominated for GRAMMYs and lost. Tea.
LOGIC ON PREDATORS, ABUSERS AND DONALD TRUMP
In the company of Khalid and Alessia Cara, Logic performed his song “1-800-273-8255,” named after the National Suicide Prevention Line. The music video centers around a young man who struggles with feeling accepted because of his sexuality. Logic’s live performance takes it a step further by including victims of sexual assault and abuse, especially in the workplace — offset by the chain of allegations of sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein.
In addition, the rapper gave an outstanding rebuttal to Donald Trump’s “shithole” comments, saying, “stand tall and crush all predators under the weight of your heart that is full of the love that they will never take away from you.”
Donald Trump has not yet responded via Twitter.
JANELLE MONAE TAKES #METOO TO THE BIG STAGE
Singer/songwriter, producer and actress Janelle Monáe has positioned herself to be a face and voice rallying behind equality in addition to creating incomparable art. Before presenting Kesha to perform, she had a much needed message to share with those of us watching, both at Madison Square Garden and at home.
“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,” said Monáe. “And just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo a culture that does not serve us well.”
KENDRICK LAMAR STARTS OFF WITH A BANG
What better way to set the political tone of the GRAMMYs than with one of the most profound lyricists of our time, Kendrick Lamar? Compton’s very own, as expected, didn’t hold back in his spitfire delivery and visually impeccable performance.
Assisted by legendary rock band, U2, and renowned comedian, Dave Chappelle, Kendrick blazed through his own music with immensely talented dancers surrounding him.
Much to unpack from Kung-Fu Kenny’s performance, but one of the biggest message to take away was explicitly given by Chappelle himself, “the only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America is being an honest black man in America.”
KESHA BARES IT ALL WITH A STAR-STUDDED SISTERHOOD
Kesha’s very public legal battle with former producer Dr. Luke took quite a toll on her after allegations of sexual, verbal and emotional abuse from him. The hitmaker stepped onto the scene in 2005 after being featured on Flo-Rida’s hit “Right Round”.
Since then, she’s dropped three albums, including GRAMMY-nominated ‘Rainbow’ featuring lead single “Praying”. Kesha was accompanied onstage by singers Camila Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Julia Michaels, Bebe Rexha and Andra Day.
For Kesha, this could be a fresh start for a new path.