Despite a bombastic performance from Kendrick Lamar, a rallying #MeToo speech from Janelle Monae, and an incredibly emotional Kesha moment, last Sunday’s Grammys disappointed in a giant way. Hip-hop got shut out from the major categories again (this time by Bruno Mars) and women were all but ignored, claiming only eleven of the 84 trophies. Best new artist winner Alessia Cara was the only solo female to win a Grammy. She beat out SZA, who despite being the most nominated lady of the night, went home empty-handed. In a night filled with multiple appearances from U2, Sting, and Shaggy, many wondered why Lorde (the only female nominee for Album of the Year) did not perform. Following the show it was revealed that the Melodrama artist was never offered a solo slot, only an appearance in a Tom Petty tribute, which she understandably turned down. Asked for comment on the matter, Grammy executive producer Ken Ehrlich told Variety, “We have a box and it gets full. She had a great album. There’s no way we can really deal with everybody.” His idiocy was quickly eclipsed by Recording Academy president, Neil Portnow. When asked about the lack of female representation in the awards, Portnow made the following tone deaf statement:
“It has to begin with… women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level… [They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome…”
Many were not happy with his comments, especially his suggestion for women to “step up.” Pink and Charli XCX were among those that took to Twitter to lambast Portnow; others followed suit by using #GrammySoMale to voice their disapproval. On Thursday, in response, Portnow announced the establishment of a new task force that will investigate gender bias at The Grammys and the Recording Academy. On the same day, music-business lawyer Rosemary Carroll spearheaded a group of female music executives’ call for Portnow step down. In an open letter, the executives state, “Today we are stepping up and stepping in to demand your resignation.”
- Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl RevengeOn Sunday night, Justin Timberlake returns to the Super Bowl for the halftime performance. The move has prompted many to ask “What about Janet?” It was fourteen years ago that JT and the “Rhythm Nation” singer shocked television audiences when Timberlake revealed Jackson’s breast at the end of their 2004 halftime performance of “Rock Your Body.” While Timberlake’s career has continued to flourish, Jackson was virtually blacklisted from the industry after the event.Though Jackson won’t be present at the Super Bowl, she is finally making her deserved comeback. Coachella organizers Goldenvoice have announced Jackson as one of the the top billers of the 2018 Panorama music festival. From July 27 – 29, she’ll headline along with The Killers, The Weekend, SZA, Father John Misty, St. Vincent, The War on Drugs, Due Lipa, Gucci Mane, Cardi B, The XX, Fleet Foxes, Migos, Odessa, and David Byrne.
- Speaking of David Byrne…
Byrne made news for several events this week. The Talking Heads founder is releasing a new album, American Utopia, in March, and yesterday he released a playlist in response to a certain political figure. “The Beautiful Shitholes” is a collection of tracks from the likes of Amadou & Mariam, Orchestra Baobab, and Calle 13. Byrne released the following partial statement along with the playlist:“I assume I don’t have to explain where the shithole reference came from.Here’s a playlist that gives just the smallest sample of the depth and range of creativity that continues to pour out of the countries in Africa and the Caribbean. It is undeniable. Can music help us empathize with its makers?”Read Byrne’s full statement and listen to “The Beautiful Shitholes” here.
After a couple of years of heavy touring with a live band and the exit of Rhye co-founder Robin Hannibal, Mike Milosh is back with Blood, the follow up to Rhye’s 2013 debut, Woman. “Count To Five” is the first official video off of the sophomore release. Albert Hammond Jr.’s upcoming album, Francis Trouble, is out March 9th via Red Bull Records. On Thursday night he performed new track, “Muted Beatings,” on Conan. Chvrches released a clip this week for fresh single, “Get Out.” The Scottish trio will play Governor’s Ball in NYC on June 3rd. The tracklist for the soundtrack of upcoming Marvel movie Black Panther has been released; Grammy-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar co-produced the soundtrack which features SZA, Khalid, Jorja Smith, Jay Rock, and more. The first single off the album, “Pray For Me,” is out now and features Lamar and The Weekend. The soundtrack drops February 9th. King Krule is asking listeners to submit photos inspired by the cover of his latest album, The Ooz. The collection of pics are being published on a new Instagram account and prizes may be involved. Flatbush Zombies have three new projects in the works. The rappers’ sophomore album, Vacation in Hell is out April 6th, their touring life is chronicled in Building a Ladder, a new documentary out April 2nd, and group member Erick “The Architect” Elliot is releasing Arcstrumentals2 on February 16th. Nas performed his seminal album, Illmatic, with the National Symphony Orchestra. The concert airs on PBS tonite at 9pm. Noughties nostalgia is fulfilled on “Get It,” a new track from Missy Elliot, Kelly Rowland, and Busta Rhymes. The copyright floodgates have been opened! Kanye West and Solange are both being sued by Prince Phillip Mitchell for unsolicited use of his song “If We Can’t Be Lovers.” West sampled the track for 2007 song, “Everything I Am,” Knowles used it in her leaked 2008 release, “Fuck The Industry.”