Is it really about the music anymore?

By: Shelby Ford

Women are empowered and speaking out against the dark side of the entertainment industry, confronting some of the most powerful men in Hollywood with allegations of harassment and sexual assault. The movement Time’s Up was created in support of this action by over 300 women in the industry.

We’re seeing more and more celebrities use popular award shows as a platform to address issues such as sexual harassment and inequality of race and gender. By using award shows like the Grammys, Golden Globes and Oscars, celebrities can influence viewers.

At the 2018 Golden Globes, attendees wore black in support of the Time’s Up movement, and spoke out against the problems of harassment in the film and television industry. Similarly, at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, celebrity guests wore a white rose in solidarity of Time’s Up. The appearance of the white rose was the first time that the movement has been brought up in the music industry.

The Time’s Up mission statement, according to the website, “is a unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere. From movie sets to farm fields to boardrooms alike, we envision nationwide leadership that reflects the world in which we live.” It was founded by notable women in the industry including, Natalie Portman, Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and more.

While artists should be able to have a freedom of speech, and bring light to important societal issues, although this has no bearing on how winners are chosen.

The Recording Academy has presented the Grammys since 1958, and manage the voting process.

The website states, “The Grammys are the only peer-presented award to honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position.”

According to The Recording Academy, the Grammys are not a popularity contest, and the music not judged on the subject matter, but rather the artistry and recording value.

The Grammys voting process involves hundreds of members. These include singers, musicians, producers, recording artists, lyricists, and more. Members nominate artists and vote on winners based on their musical expertise and genre.

After the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in New York, outrage swept the internet surrounding Ed Sheeran’s win for Best Solo Pop Performance for “Shape of You.” He was pitted against female vocalists, Lady Gaga, Kesha, Kelly Clarkson, and Pink.

Twitter exploded in disgust of Sheeran’s win, stating Kesha should have won for her song “Praying.” Kesha was recently absent for four years from her music career while in a lawsuit with her producer over sexual assault.

“Praying” was viewed as her strong comeback to the spotlight after years of silence. The ballad undeniably has deep meaning, giving strength to those who have suffered from harassment and assault.

Due to Sheeran’s absence at the Grammy’s, viewers were frustrated ever further. Twitter users compared his win to a “hate crime” against women and the Time’s Up movement. Posts also proclaimed that The Recording Academy is “sexist” and should “stay relevant.”

It is important to remember that the winners are not awarded based on political relevance, but rather the quality of the music in its category.

Liam Payne, former member of One Direction, spoke out about Sheeran’s controversial win, “I completely understand all of what’s going on at the moment, and I think it’s great that people are supporting that, but you can’t deny a great pop song,” Payne said.

Popular music in 2018 was dominated by male artists. According to the Billboard Top Artists of 2017, there is not a female artist until No. 15 with Ariana Grande.

At the Grammy’s, only one solo female artists receive an award, Alessia Cara (Billboard’s No. 27) for Best New Artist.

Chris Stapleton, winner of Best Country Album, discussed the lack of female artists during a post-Grammy interview. “Equality is something we have to address on a lot of levels. I can’t really speak to how voters voted and what happened there, but there is a lot of great music being made by a lot of great women,” Stapleton said.

Other artists at the Grammys used the stage to express their opinions, stand in solidarity, and bring light to current issues with inspiring and moving performances.

Kesha performed a moving gospel ballad rendition of her song “Praying,” backed up by a chorus of women adorned with white roses in unity of Time’s Up. It was an emotional performance, the audience, as well as Kesha, were in tears after the song.

Kendrick Lamar, who went home with four Grammy awards, opened the show with a combination of songs from his album DAMN. The performance showcased themes against violence and racism in America, in which he dubbed a “satire.”

Dave Chappelle joined Lamar on stage during his performance. “I just wanted to remind the audience that the only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America is being an honest black man in America,” Chappelle said, commenting on Lamar’s performance. “Rumble, young man, rumble.”

It is a turbulent time in the entertainment industry, as artists stand up and hold the people accountable on issues that have been going on for years.

As viewers, we should accept that the winners of an award show are beyond our control. We can cherish the strength and voice of other artists performing during the show, and those standing up and bringing light to important issues.

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