Power to women, the Grammy Awards seem to be shouting this year: the Staples Center in Los Angeles saw female artists as absolute protagonists.
Female performers proudly and fiercely took up their well-deserved space on the stage, starting with host Alicia Keys, who opened the show by asking: “Can I get some of my sisters in here tonight?” as Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez joined her on stage.
“Music has always helped me tell my story,” said former USA First Lady, who surprised the audience with her appearance. “It allows us to hear one another.”
Lady Gaga told the crowd: “They said I was weird, that my look, that my choices, that my sound wouldn’t work. But music told me not to listen to them.”
The opening clearly contrasted with last year’s Grammys, where male acts dominated in nominations and Lorde, the only woman competing for the top award, didn’t even get a chance to perform onstage.
But this year, women had a strong presence in the top categories. Five of the eight album-of- the- year nominees were women, including Carlile’s “By the Way, I Forgive You,” Janelle Monae’s “Dirty Computer,” Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” and H.E.R.’s self-titled album were also competing. Lady Gaga, Brandi Carlile and Kacey Musgraves won three Grammys each.
Problem is, women are missing in popular music.
Founder and director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California, “[ About the percentage of women working in the music industry, based on the Billboard Hot 100 ] Twenty three percent of the 700 songs in our sample had one of 10 male songwriters attached to them (…) So, culturally we’re allowing 10 men to set the norms — that really doesn’t represent the world that we live in.”
Also, at the 2018 Grammy Awards, when asked about the lack of women nominees in the top categories, Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow said women needed to “step up.”
A lot has changed in the following months, since the Grammys had a huge backlash, both for their treatment of women in the #MeToo era and for their lack of recognition of diverse communities.
“I guess this year we’ve really stepped up,” said British singer Dua Lipa when accepting her best new artist award, just after telling the audience she was was grateful to be nominated alongside so many female performers. Six of the best-new-artist nominees in fact were women, including H.E.R., Chloe x Halle, Margo Price, Bebe Rexha and Jorja Smith.
If we had to necessarily sum up the sixty-first Grammy Awards with just one hashtag, this could only be #girlpower. And it was about time, right?