On Jan. 28, the music industry’s biggest night was held in Madison Square Garden in New York City. The 60th Annual Grammy Awards was broadcast on CBS.Despite the award show being dedicated to music, staff and students both remarked on the show’s political focus.
This is the first year the show was held outside of Los Angeles since 2003. The show was moved to January in order to avoid competition with the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
The show was hosted by comedian James Corden, who had previously hosted the show in 2017. The show included music releases released between Oct. 1, 2016 and Sept. 30, 2017.
According to Variety, the show suffered a severe drop in viewership compared to previous years. The show dropped 24 percent compared to 2017, and had the smallest audience in the show’s history with 19.8 million viewers.
Student opinions mirrored this statistic, as many students had not seen the show, or only followed the event on social media.
Dr. Evene Estwick, a communication studies professor, remarked on the political aspects of the event.
“There was a great deal of advocacy and tackling of some the current issues that we have in America,” she explained. “There was a very strong component of the #MeToo movement especially in statements from female artists.”
The #MeToo movement is a hashtag that spread awareness for the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, particularly in Hollywood. The movement became popularized after allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Celebrities at the award show wore white roses to support adjacent movement Time’s Up, which is the focus on legal justice of sexual assault.
There was particular interest in Kesha’s appearance at the award show, as she had previously suffered legal battles with producer Dr. Luke, who she had alleged sexually assaulted her in the past.
“The performance by Kesha, and how that was designed for her to sing and be supported by a group of women in light surrounding her was incredible.”
“There was also a focus on immigration when U2 performed in front of the Statue of Liberty, which is a major symbol of New York, of America, and also a major image of immigration in this country,” continued Estwick.
“On one hand, there were probably people in the audience who were saying ‘I really don’t want celebrities and performers to be politicians.’ On the other hand, some other people are probably saying ‘Even though these celebrities are rich and beautiful, they have some of the same experiences as me as a person who is an average working class individual in the U.S.’”
Junior earth and environmental science major Allie Aspey watched the Grammy’s for the purpose of entertainment.
“I only really watched it for the performances,” she said. “I really liked Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar’s.”
Despite the show’s attitude towards social justice, it received criticism for it’s male-centric nominees. In particular, many criticised the choice of ‘snubbing’ Lorde and the lack of performance by her and other female nominees at the show. This led to the spread of the hashtag #GrammySoMale on social media. Many were also angered by artist Ed Sheeran winning Best Pop Solo Performance over Kesha.
“I don’t think some of the awards should have gone to the people they have gone to,” said freshman criminology/sociology student, Hannah Welfey . “I think it should have gone to Kesha for her song Praying. It’s raising a lot of feminist controversy. It was one of the main things I saw on social media.”
“It still was dominated in terms of performances and nominees by men, so, where are we?” asked Estwick. “Are we back to square one? I don’t know.”