Kesha, Lorde and SZA were among the women let down at this year's Grammy Awards

Is time really up?

Ilana Kaplan
New York
Monday 29 January 2018 03:25
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Kesha stuns with emotional performance of Praying at the Grammys 2018

It was a disappointing year for the 60th Grammy Awards, which launched its nominations at the end of 2017 with a point of trying to appear more relevant, by recognising artists such as Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Jay Z, Bruno Mars, Lorde and Khalid.

The awards show has been quite gung-ho about supporting the #TimesUp movement, which supports women's equality and confronts the conversation of sexual assault in the entertainment industry. An overwhelming number of artists showed up on the red carpet wearing white roses to the ceremony including Lady Gaga, Camila Cabello, Nick Jonas and more.

But while the Grammy nominations came across as being more progressive than ever (four out of five artists in the Best Pop Solo Vocal category were women, and it was the first time in 20 years that a white male wasn't nominated for Album of the Year and Record of the Year) they still managed to fall short when it came to following through.

The first instance of Grammy "error" came in the form of Best New Artist, the first major award handed out in the televised ceremony. SZA and Khalid arguably had the biggest 2017, touting their records Love Galore and American Teen, respectively, but the award went to Alessia Cara - a relatively faceless singer who has been around longer than most "new artists".

During the evening, Cara was the only woman who won an award in the larger Grammy categories - with the exception of Rihanna sharing Lamar's award for Best Rap/Sung Performance.

Last year she collaborated with rapper Logic alongside Khalid on his suicide prevention track "1-800-273-8255," but her debut album came out in 2016. The remaining four nominees all released their debut LPs in 2017. The issue wasn't Cara's lack of talent - she is a competent singer - it was that she didn't have as big or as successful of a 2017 as SZA or Khalid, who catapulted to stardom in R&B and were both named in many critics' end of year "Best Albums" lists.

When the Best Pop Vocal portion of the evening arrived, it was justly a competitive category featuring Kesha, Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson and Pink and Ed Sheeran. Granted Ed Sheeran's "Shape Of You" was everywhere in 2017, but so was Kesha's war cry "Praying." With the #TimesUp movement being the focal point of the Grammys, it did a disservice to Kesha, the women nominated in the category and the awards show to not give the Grammy to Kesha. Also, giving the award to Sheeran, the only male performer in the category who also didn't show up to the Grammys, wasn't a great look for a ceremony that was supposed to be putting women at the forefront. Sure, there could have been a split vote between the artists, but it just seemed counterproductive to not give the award to a woman who rose from the ashes to restart her career against misogyny.

Despite being nominated for Album of the Year for her record Melodrama - an album that was very well-received - Lorde is apparently the only nominee in the category who will not perform solo during the Grammys. The New Zealand singer is the only female nominee in this category, alongside Jay Z, Childish Gambino, Bruno Mars and Kendrick Lamar.

Allegedly all of the male nominees in this category had been asked to perform solo, while Lorde had only been asked to perform as a part of an "American Girl" tribute to Tom Petty. For an artist who has performed twice during Grammy Week - once at the The annual Ally Coalition Benefit and again at the MusiCares concert honouring Fleetwood Mac - it would be a natural fit to have Lorde perform one of the hit songs from her sophomore record. The fact that Lorde supposedly didn't get the same ask as all of her fellow nominees - who were all male - doesn't reflect well on the #TimesUp movement.

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When the Album of the Year winner was named, it was once again Mars who dominated the major categories - Lorde didn't get any recognition for her work and once again Lamar was snubbed for Album of the Year.

Women get small moments at the Grammys, but not as much glory as anyone else. Perhaps letting Camila Cabello open the awards show singing "Havana" would have been a big step for women and the Latina community - plus it would have added to her speech that advocated for Barack Obama's DREAMers. It's the small things that have the potential to make a big difference at these ceremonies.

Don't be fooled by the white roses: while the Grammys may seem progressive on the surface, there's still a lot of work to be done. The awards show may have made some small changes to bring them forward, but they've proved they're still falling behind.

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