February 5, 2018
Bruno Mars swept the top categories at the 60th annual Grammy Awards, hosted by James Corden, and Kendrick Lamar took home five awards. According to New York Times, “The most startling, least promotional segment of the Grammy Awards opened the show. It was a verbal barrage and choreographed massacre by Mr. Lamar, who dominated the hip-hop categories but lost album of the year.” Later, Cardi B. joined Bruno Mars on preforming his song “Finesse,” then Kesha had a #MeToo moment. The pop star, who accused her longtime producer, Dr. Luke, of years of abuse in a 2014 lawsuit, performed her new song “Praying” after Dr. Luke denied the accusations. She and Janelle Monáe introduced Kesha and her song with a small but powerful speech, “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,” she announced. Kesha didn’t stand alone — she came with singers, Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels, Andra Day and Bebe Rexha. Her performance of “Praying,” a ballad off “Rainbow,” her first album since 2012, was an emotional exorcism. Singing directly to an antagonist — “You brought the flames and you put me through hell/I had to learn how to fight for myself” — she trembled, she screeched, she slipped around the song’s melody. And she fell into the women’s arms as the audience rose to its feet (NYT).
A newcomer soon took the stage, SZA, who had five nominations. Unfortunately, none of her nominations led to an award, but she was the only nominee for best new artist and performed a full song on her own. The artist sang “Broken Clocks”, which is about a frustratingly iffy relationship, topping a slow-swaying vamp with jazzy, unbalanced vocal lines that could dart nervously ahead, pivot suddenly, linger over a quivering tone and declaim a chorus. Later in the night, country singers Eric Church, Maren Morris, and the Brothers Osborne played a solemn cover of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven,” to remember those who were killed in the Las Vegas shooting. At the end of the ceremony, Hillary Clinton got one of the loudest reactions of the night. Clinton appeared at the end of a pre-taped skit in which various musicians read excerpts from Michael Wolff’s best-seller Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, purportedly auditioning for the audiobook most likely to take home Best Spoken Word Album at next year’s Grammy’s. “One reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s,” Clinton reads from the book, smirking, “nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.” Clinton’s delivery of the line was the capper of an otherwise lukewarm bit in which she was preceded by artists like Snoop Dogg, John Legend, Cher, and Cardi B, delivering their own readings of lines from the book, along with some commentary.