Bruno Mars Grammys

The Best and Worst Performances of Grammys 2018

Best Worst Performances Pink

If you were looking for a breakout performance at the 60th annual Grammy Awards along the lines of Ricky Martin, or even a Soy Bomb moment, you were out of luck. This was a professional, if highly politicized, affair, that began with tackling racism and police brutality and ended up touching on hot-button topics like immigration and sexual harassment. Kendrick Lamar kicked off the night with his incendiary opening performance, but politics reared its head when he split the hip-hop constituency and allowed good old-fashioned R&B in the form of high-stepping Bruno Mars to steal the show.

Here are the top performances of Sunday night’s show:1. Kendrick Lamar: Riffing non-stop through “XXX,” “DNA,” “The Heart Part 4,” and god knows what else – then sampling U2 live in exactly the right dose – K-Dot seized the moment and seemed ready to dominate the rest of the night until simple numbers got in the way. We’re not sure what Dave Chappelle was doing out there, though. “Rumble, my man.”

2. Bruno Mars f/Cardi B, “Finesse”: Perhaps the closest thing to a “who’s dat girl?” moment was when Cardi B sauntered onto the primary color set and stole the show. And Bruno Mars proved all he wants to do is dance, and for you to, too.

Bruno Mars Grammys

Grammys Ratings Woes Worse Than They Appear: A Bad Sign for Oscars?

Pink Slams Grammy Chief Neil Portnow for ‘Step Up’ Comment

3. Pink, “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken”: No, she didn’t hang from the ceiling. Plainly dressed in a low slung T-shirt and jeans, she used only her voice to raise the stakes. “There’s not enough rope to tie me down,” she sang, and then proceeded to soar anyway.

4. U2, “Get Out of Your Own Way”: Yeah, I know it wasn’t live, but the symbolism of Bono and the Edge silhouetted against the Statue of Liberty was one of the most effective shots of the night. And it was the only rock performance of the ceremony.

5. Kesha, “Praying”: Despite the ragged vocals and too-cluttered staging, she sang her heart out in this unapologetic rebuke to Dr. Lukes everywhere. Extra points to Janelle Monae’s furious introduction, a plea to “undo the culture that does not serve us well.”

6. Patti LuPone, “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”: The attenuated Broadway tribute still produced a pair of standing ovations for this memorable rendition of her 1981 Grammy winner, and “Dear Evan Hansen” star Ben Platt’s soaring “Somewhere.”

7. SZA, “Broken Clocks”: She and Cardi B vie for the title of most impactful newcomer, and this low-key but high-impact performance will make Grammy rue the day she lost best new artist.

8. Logic w/Alessia Cara and Khalid, “1-800-273-8255”: He’s done this at previous award shows, but the song never fails to move, combining three of the most promising young talents out there.

9. Childish Gambino, “Terrified”: Donald Glover is a true renaissance man, but his moment was stolen by his “The Lion King” co-star JD McCrary’s slicing soprano.

10. Rihanna and DJ Khaled w/Bryson Tiller, “Wild Thoughts”: I’m still trying to figure out what exactly master hypeman and cheerleader (“raise your hands in the air”) DJ Khaled was doing, but this erotic pas de deux between Rihanna and Bryson Tiller lit up my screen.

Best Bits of the Night: Hillary Clinton reading a selection from Fire & Fury; James Corden’s Subway Carpool Karaoke with Sting and Shaggy

Best One-Liner: Jim Gaffigan, “I never heard of me, either.”

Worst Performances of the Night

1. Gary Clark, Jr. and Jon Batiste: This Fats Domino/Chuck Berry tribute fell disastrously flat. Weren’t Keith Richards or Dr. John available?

2. Sting/Shaggy, “Englishman in New York” and “Don’t Make Me Wait”: Another in the Recording Academy’s ongoing attempt to show the Police’s reggae roots. We get it.

3. Sam Smith, “Pray”: Not that he didn’t sound great, but it was an especially unmemorable moment.

4. Eric Church, Maren Morris and Brothers Osborne, “Tears in Heaven”: A little too on the money, too maudlin-by-half tribute to those killed at the country music festival in Las Vegas.

5. Elton John and Miley Cyrus, “Tiny Dancer”: I loved Miley in maroon floor-length gown gushing as a latter-day Kiki Dee, but Elton’s range makes this a sad display of what was.

Bruno Mars Grammys

Grammys 2018: The Biggest Snubs and Surprises

Grammys Snubs Surprises

In the Grammys pre-ceremony on Sunday, with 84 individual categories handed out (only nine were awarded on the evening telecast), it looked early on that it would be a Kendrick Lamar coronation.

In fact, after piling up three Grammys in the afternoon and another two at night, Lamar looked like a lock for some of the biggest prizes, especially after his incendiary opening performance set the political template for the night. But it turns out that Variety‘s own predictions were correct:K-Dot and Jay-Z split the burgeoning hip-hop vote, leaving Bruno Mars’ traditional song-and-dance R&B to rule the night’s three major categories. In the end, it was no upset.

As for the evening’s one mild upset, in which Alessia Cara topped critic’s fave SZA for best new artist, that is a category – much like the best supporting actress Oscar – that always seems to throw prognosticators a curveball. Cara’s terrific, but this may be one the Recording Academy looks back on and wonders what it was thinking.

The afternoon’s major surprises included Carrie Fisher winning out over Bruce Springsteen’s audiobook in the spoken word category, along with Leonard Cohen beating out fellow posthumous entrant Chris Cornell in the best rock performance category.

Bruno Mars Grammys

Grammys Ratings Woes Worse Than They Appear: A Bad Sign for Oscars?

How the Grammys Embraced Diversity and Still Lost

The Recording Academy’s political machinations also reared their head. The inclusion of the best comedy album was clearly an opportunity to get Dave Chappelle, Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Gaffigan, and Sarah Silverman some airtime.

Other headscratchers: what were Hailee Steinfeld and Donnie Wahlberg doing handing out a best country album award, or Tony Bennett and John Legend announcing the best rap/sung performance winner? And didn’t the Grammys lose a little face when the snubbed Ed Sheeran turned out to be a no-show for his best pop solo performance award? That’s proof the voting isn’t rigged… at least not in that way.

The evening had a welcome political edge to it, with Janelle Monae’s intro to Kesha almost overshadowing the emotional catharsis that followed. The Time’s Up issue wasn’t exactly answered by this year’s Grammys, however, with Cara serving as the ceremony’s only woman to accept a televised award.

And still, after all the hoopla about this being the year of hip-hop and political commentary, an old-fashioned song-and-dance man took home the lion’s share of the awards, with Mars winning best album, record, and song, giving insight into a membership that is changing, but certainly still holds some traditional musical values.

Even the In Memoriam section turns into a matter of diplomacy, as Emmylou Harris and Chris Stapleton played Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” over the year’s requisite roll call of the departed, with the chosen sound bites indicating whose death was more impactful.

In the end, the Grammys played out pretty much according to form. Everyone walked home with something. Even Jay-Z, who took the schneid, was given the industry icon award at Clive Davis’ bash the night before. Still, by trying to be something to everyone, the Grammys somehow made it all look pro forma. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; the show is more relevant than ever, and the egregious mistakes – think Jethro Tull winning best heavy metal or Starland Vocal Band best new artist – are pretty much over. But the spirit of discovery is long since gone. Now, it’s a matter of politics.

Best Worst Performances Pink

Lorde Shades the Grammys in New Tweet

iHeartRadio Secret Sessions By AT&T Featuring Lorde At The Houdini Estate

The Grammy Awards were tough on female artists in several ways — there was a small number of female nominees (and consequently winners), and Lorde, the only female artist nominated for Best New Album, was also the only artist in that category who wasn’t offered a solo performance during the show, sources tell Variety.

Making matters worse, immediately after the show, when Grammy chief Neil Portnow was asked by Variety what women artists need to do to push things forward, he said, ““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, who want to be part of the industry on the executive level… [They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome. I don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face but I think it’s upon us — us as an industry — to make the welcome mat very obvious, creating opportunities for all people who want to be creative and paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists.”

And when asked if it was a mistake to leave Lorde out of the show, executive producer Ken Ehrlich said: “I don’t know if it was a mistake. These shows are a matter of choices. We have a box and it gets full. She had a great album. There’s no way we can really deal with everybody.”

Best Worst Performances Pink

Pink Slams Grammy Chief Neil Portnow for ‘Step Up’ Comment

Grammy Moments You Didn’t See on TV

This, despite the fact that the show had a strong #MeToo theme, both overall and via Kesha’s performance of “Praying” and Janelle Monae’s introducing speech.

Lorde apparently had a response on Twitter Monday afternoon, writing in all-caps “IF YOU’RE DEBATING WHETHER OR NOT I CAN MURDER A STAGE… COME SEE IT FOR URSELF.” — and then providing a link to the dates for her forthcoming tour, which begins in Milwaukee on March 1 and wraps June 2 at the Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona.

While she did not perform on the Grammys, Lorde performed twice in New York during Grammy Week, playing a four-song set with Jack Antonoff at his Ally Coalition benefit, and also playing a powerful version of Stevie Nicks’ “Silver Springs” at the MusiCares Fleetwood Mac tribute at Radio City Music Hall.

Bruno Mars Grammys

Bon Iver Slams Bruno Mars’ Grammy Wins: ‘You Absolutely Have to Be S—ting Me’

Bon Iver Justin Vernon Grammys

Bon Iver took aim at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards on Monday, questioning Bruno Mars’ Grammys sweep.

“Looks like [Grammys] are still something serious musicians should not take seriously!” tweeted Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. “Absolutely NO offense to Mr. Mars, but you absolutely have to be s—ting me.”

Mars scooped up six awards — album of the year (“24K Magic”), song of the year (“That’s What I Like”), best R&B performance (“That’s What I Like”), best R&B song, and best R&B album — plus an additional win for best engineered album (non classical). Mars bested Kendrick Lamar, Lorde, Childish Gambino, and Jay-Z for the top prize.

“To be factual, Mr. Mars made a name in the INDUSTRY by making hits OUT of hits of yesteryear,” Vernon continued. “SO … no real need to be mad, even, at the [Grammys]. SZA? KENDRICK? I’d say move on from this s— show. Felt like a Democratic Party Party, not R ‘n’ Roll.”

Vernon — a four-time Grammy nominee with two wins in 2012 for best new artist and best alternative album — didn’t stop there. He next addressed the lack of female winners, asking, “While some awesome musicians do win, what is WINNING?”

His comment was directed at Recording Academy president Neil Portnow’s response when asked about the majority of male winners and how women can move forward next year.

“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,” he said. “I don’t have personal experience of those brick walls that you face, but I think it’s upon us — as an industry — to make the welcome mat very obvious, breeding opportunities for all people who want to be creative and paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists.”

Bruno Mars Grammys

Grammys Ratings Woes Worse Than They Appear: A Bad Sign for Oscars?

How the Grammys Embraced Diversity and Still Lost

This response didn’t sit well with Vernon.

“S—ty Coach language,” he said.

Vernon also sided with Lorde, who declined performing at the ceremony because she was the only album of the year nominee not afforded a solo performance. Lorde was offered an opportunity to perform in a Tom Petty tribute, but turned it down, watching from the audience as Mars won album of the year. Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich defended the choice in the press room, explaining, “these shows are a matter of choices. We have a box and it gets full. She had a great album. There’s no way we can really deal with everybody.”

Vernon again took umbrage, siding with Lorde.

“I have to say Ken [Ehrlich] is a d— producer. I’m with Lorde on this, hard,” he wrote. “Ken told us Holocene (roty, soty nominee in 2011 (?)) was ‘too long and slow and that we’d lose 4-6 million viewers cause of that’ and that he’s broken a lot of careers on the show, so I should listen.”

To further cement his point, Vernon retweeted Crosby, Stills and Nash star David Crosby’s response to a fan question on Twitter if he watched the telecast with the hashtag, “incrozname.

“No,” he wrote. “I didn’t even bother to watch.”

Charlie Walk

Republic Records Exec and ‘The Four’ Judge Charlie Walk Accused of Sexual Harassment in Open Letter

Charlie Walk

Republic Records Group president Charlie Walk has been accused of sexual misconduct in a bombshell open letter written by Life Lab founder Tristan Coopersmith. Walk is currently starring as a judge on the Fox show “The Four.” Republic is home to Ariana Grande, Hailee Steinfeld, The Weeknd and Drake, among other hit acts.

In the letter, posted on her website, lifelabhb.com, Coopersmith says daily meetings with the record mogul and conversations peppered with lewd and suggestive comments made her feel “sick to my stomach.” She also describes an encounter with Walk during which, Coopersmith alleges, “You cornered me and pushed me into your bedroom and onto your bed. The bed you shared with your wife.”

When reached by Variety, a rep for Universal Music Group, of which Republic is a subsidiary, said: “While it appears this blog post relates to the period prior to Mr. Walk’s appointment to his position at Republic Records, we take the allegations very seriously and intend to conduct a full and complete review of this matter.”

A spokesperson for Fox, which airs “The Four,” said in a statement to Variety: “We have only recently learned of these past allegations regarding Mr. Walk.  We are currently reviewing this matter and are committed to fostering a safe environment on all of our shows.”

Grammys 2018: Jessie Reyez, Kacey Musgraves, 6lack Highlight Universal Music Showcase

Music Industry’s Brave New World Requires New Breed of Executive

Coopersmith, a former record company staffer who appears to have worked with Walk while he was an executive at Sony Music (Walk worked at Columbia Records and Epic Records, both Sony labels), is now a licensed psychotherapist helping others “heal and release past wounds,” according to her website.

In the letter, she tells her story of being a 27-year old with dreams of making it in the music industry and getting hired for a dream job heading her own department. Walk took her to backstage meet-and-greets, she writes, and introduced her to moguls like former Columbia Records head Donnie Ienner, YouTube music chief Lyor Cohen, and hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons (since accused by several women of sexual assault), as well as superstars like Prince. But the dream turned to “nightmares,” as she claims Walk made unwanted advances even as his wife was in the next room.

“For a year I shuddered at the idea of being called into your office, where you would stealthily close the door and make lewd comments about my body and share your fantasies of having sex with me. I was 27,” she wrote. “No previous experience had taught me what to do in such a situation. So I laughed it off, gently reminded you that you were married with children, and tried to change the subject. But you were relentless.”

The advances continued with invitations to dinners, sometimes with his wife at the table.

“You did it so that you could put your hand on my thigh under the table, every time inching it closer and closer to my sacred place,” writes Coopersmith. “You did it so you could lean over and whisper disgusting things into my ear and I had to smile so that no one suspected anything. On multiple occasions your wife was sitting right across from us. … And then there was that event at your swank pad when you actually cornered me and pushed me into your bedroom and onto your bed. The bed you shared with your wife… your wife who was in the room next door. You being drunk and me being 6 inches taller was my saving grace.”

After a year, she reported the behavior to Walk’s then “counterpart,” who wasn’t surprised, she notes, but offered her a graceful exit. Coopersmith says she took the “dirty money” and moved to Los Angeles.

She continues: “To you, Charlie Walk what you did was normal. It was a power you perceived to have earned, with a right to exercise it. But to me it was insulting, confusing and objectifying. And it was a secret that I held for a very long time, my experiences only spilling out in flashbacks and nightmares. And my silence paid off. I was able to flourish in the industry, but the more that I did, the more that I saw there were so many Charlie Walks. I walked away from the world of entertainment 8 years ago and never looked back. … The truth is Charlie Walk there will always be scumbags like you. I know this because you’re raising sons who will follow in your own footsteps.”

The open letter ends with a plea. “I don’t wish ill for you, Charlie Walk,” she writes. “Only the possibility of personal awakening, accountability and transformation so that you can use your power for good. I forgive you, Charlie Walk. I hope you can forgive yourself.”

Read the open letter in its entirety here.

“The Four” is wrapping its debut season with a final taping this week.

Variety has reached out to Walk for comment. Sony Music declined comment.

Bruno Mars Grammys

How the Grammys Embraced Diversity and Still Lost

Kendrick Lamar Grammys

If O. Henry had survived long enough to write about the music business, he couldn’t have written a story with a sadder twist than the tale of the 2018 Grammys. The whole saga led to a series of no-win reversals that a fiction like “Gift of the Magi” could only envy.

To wit: The nominating committees’ emphasis on hip hop in the top categories led to a lot of stories about how pop and rock were being shoved aside in this, the Year of Hip-Hop. That, along with a more socially and politically-aware telecast, should have greatly increased the Grammys in the perceived relevance department, right? The sense of increased relevance might have even been seen in some quarters as a reasonable, if costly, tradeoff for the record-low viewership that had to be at least in part a result of the “Grammys don’t care about Ed Sheeran or pop’s biggest stars” meme. Except that the Grammys didn’t even get their credibility consolation prize. Because the overall voting membership had different ideas than the nominating committee and gave all the top awards to non-hip-hop nominees, leading to a world of renewed memes about how out-of-touch the Grammys are.

Bruno Mars Grammys

Grammys Ratings Woes Worse Than They Appear: A Bad Sign for Oscars?

Alessia Cara Responds to Backlash Over Best New Artist Grammy Win

In other words, the nominations may have seemed too cool for the general populace, who tuned out early, while the winners weren’t nearly cool enough for the folks who get to go on grumbling that the Grammys are just a populist contest after all. Everybody loses, really. O. Henry’s Della has given up her hair for money, while her husband Jim has given up their money for combs. And… curtain!

The Grammy saga is never just about who gets the awards. In fact, it’s rarely about that. The cliché is that no one ever recalls who wins the Grammys, but they do remember who performed on the show. That’s suddenly less true in 2017 and 2018 than it has been in previous years: The thing that everybody holds onto from last year is how Beyoncé lost album of the year, and the big takeaway this year is the “Lemonade”-ization of Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z, as they both ceded every big cross-genre category in which they were nominated to Bruno Mars, a great but far from weighty entertainer. Even the Men in Black might have a hard time getting the industry to soon forget these perceived slights.

But if we could set aside what the voters did and re-focus on what the telecast’s producers did, maybe there’d be some celebrating going on, instead of the mass weeping and gnashing of teeth and rush to recriminations we’re seeing on the day after. This may be going out on a crazy limb to say, but the show itself — while nobody’s idea of perfect — was topical, lively, well balanced, well staged, provocative, entertaining, and … did we mention going out on a limb here? … relevant.

If you think this year’s Grammy telecast was stodgy, maybe you’ve gotten too used to seeing major music awards shows open with Lamar using shocking choreography to send out a Black Lives Matter message. (Sarcasm spoiler: there haven’t been any others.) Lady Gaga and especially Kesha spoke powerfully to the #MeToo movement. Bono offered a (bleeped) commentary about “s—hole countries.” In a speech, Cuban-born Camila Cabello, arguably the biggest pop star of January 2018, spoke directly to the Dreamer experience. Logic also addressed the issue as part of his suicide-prevention show-closer. You could criticize the Grammys for trying too hard — certainly Nikki Haley and Donald Trump Jr. were eager to suggest just that — but you couldn’t accuse them of being tone-deaf to the moment, at least if, like most of the music industry, your thoughts about the state of the country lean a little center-left. Don’t imagine that the ratings dive the Grammys took this year didn’t have a thing to do with putting that incendiary Kendrick performance in pole position. Does that overshadow the actual trophies going to a song-and-dance man instead? There’s a good argument for a “yes” on that.

There were other smart decisions about the telecast that had nothing to do with politics or social commentary. Like having Pink do the ultimate anti-stunt stunt: just singing. Putting Gaga at a piano at the small satellite stage for a nearly-as-intimate performance. Taking a risk by letting Childish Gambino stop the show with a song that is anything but a clear-and-obvious show-stopper. Putting Miley Cyrus in Veronica Lake drag alongside the not-so-noir Elton John. A great “West Side Story” throwback with a contemporary Broadway star. Chris Stapleton and Emmylou Harris, a match made in heaven, for the coil-shuffling memoriam segment. And SZA and Patti LuPone. Not together — damn it! — but still, SZA and Patti LuPone. On the same show, killing it, in their respective fashions.

Were there things that didn’t work? Of course. With all due respect to U2 and their established penchant for memorable outdoor performances, the band’s obviously pre-recorded number on a barge was a moment that absolutely no one was talking about around the water cooler Monday morning. The country salute to the victims of the Las Vegas massacre — well intentioned, and nearly well executed — might’ve worked better if it’d been a country song … or really, any other song than “Tears in Heaven.” Sting began to feel like Zelig over the course of the telecast; you half-expected him to be accepting with Bruno at the end as a previously unrecognized member of the Stereotypes. As for James Corden, he’s probably not going anywhere as host for years to come, given the need for network cross-promotion. But someone should have taken a look at that filmed subway sketch with Sting and Shaggy and been willing to say that these are five horrific minutes that maybe we should give instead to … oh, I don’t know … Lorde?

Ah, the Lorde Problem. Grammy producers surely wish they had a do-over on that one. It’s not a huge stretch to think of the reasons they might have wanted to squeeze her into a collaborative performance, against her will: She only got one nomination — albeit a key one — unlike any other nominee who earned a solo spot on the show. And her album, great as it was, was not a smash, nor were its singles hits. But there was an equally compelling case to put her on just because she’s That Good. And, clearly, the optics that emerged when her MIA status became public were not good. Her non-performance made the show suddenly about perceived sexism … in a year when 12 of the 19 live performances had women as either the main or featured artists, including bravura turns from a good share of the most powerful women in the business. Sometimes the Grammys can’t lose for winning.

And that led to the most regrettable Grammy Moment of them all, albeit one that occurred after the telecast. Asked about the regrettable fact that less than 10% of the nominees were women, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow could have done the safe thing and pointed to the fact that the actual telecast was so diva-heavy as their attempt to lead the way and redress that imbalance. Instead, he suggested that women haven’t been as motivated to infiltrate the business and that they need to “step up” … a pile he surely almost immediately wished he could have stepped out of. It was just one more reason why a year that should have earned a #GrammysSoWithIt hashtag ended up being more #GrammysSoSad.

It’s easy to see how this cycle might repeat for the Grammys. The Recording Academy’s blue-ribbon nominating committees aren’t likely to want to stop honoring the edgier side of hip-hop … and voters aren’t likely to stop casting ballots for the most conservative and/or popular choice they’re offered, short of some kind of new sign-up drive that makes the Oscars’ membership overdrive look like nothing. The show’s producers will feel compelled to put on a telecast that includes a lot of that edginess, which may turn off a lot of middle America in a year without an Adele. And the inevitable dichotomy between nominees and winners somehow ends up making the Grammys seem way too diverse or hip for Kansas and much too square for the coasts.

In the midst of all this, is it possible to consider that Mars’ sweep is far from the most disastrous one the Grammys have ever accorded? Probably most in the industry would have applauded if the love had been split between him, Lamar, and Jay-Z. Pundits sacrifice their own credibility if they’re actively rooting against someone so seriously dedicated to every aspect of writing, recording, performing, and showing general hardest-working-man-in-show-biz tendencies … and whose work is, if not actual hip-hop, certainly steeped in that culture around the edges. O. Henry could surely appreciate the irony of somebody whose lineage is a mixture of Puerto Rican, Filipino, and Jewish somehow getting caught in a supposition of institutional racism. Some performers speak out about diversity, and some, like Mars, are diversity. A lot of us might wish for Grammys that didn’t always incline so inevitably toward the middle of the road. But that doesn’t preclude celebrating how much the center has shifted.

Best Worst Performances Pink

Pink Slams Grammy Chief Neil Portnow for ‘Step Up’ Comment

Best Worst Performances Pink

The backlash from Grammy chief Neil Portnow’s comment after the show that female artists and executives need to “step up” has met with a furious reaction online that was picked up by Pink, a frequent Grammy performer who sang on the show Sunday night.

In a handwritten post on her social media accounts, she wrote:

“Women in music don’t need to ‘step up’ – women have been stepping since the beginning of time. Stepping up, and also steppin aside. Women OWNED music this year. They’ve been KILLING IT. And every year before this. When we celebrate and honor the talent and accomplisments of women, and how much women STEP UP every year, against all odds, we show the next generation of women and girls and boys and men what it means to be equal, and what it looks like to be fair.”

Earlier in the day, Charli XCX tweeted: “ugh bout 2 step up on 2 ur face.. women are making AMAZING music right now wtf is this dude talking about ?????”

While the show’s nominees were far more diverse racially and stylistically than any before, there was a striking absence of female nominees and winners, even though it featured two #MeToo-related segments via Janelle Monae’s powerful “Time’s Up” speech and Kesha’s moving performance of “Praying.”

But the #GrammysSoMale situation was exacerbated the day before the show when Variety reported that Lorde — the only female Best Album nominee — was also the only such nominee who hadn’t been offered a solo performance on the show (sources say she was offered a spot in the Tom Petty tribute and declined).

That narrative was thrown into stark relief by the perhaps hasty and definitely unfortunate post-show comments from Grammy chief Neil Portnow — who said female artists and executives “need to step up,” although the context suggests his intended meaning may not have been as harsh as it sounds. When asked whether a Lorde performance should have been included in the show, Ehrlich said “we’ve got a lot of spots to cover.”

Lorde Shades the Grammys in New Tweet

TV Ratings: Grammy Awards Hit All-Time Low in Key Demo

 

 

 

 

Head Over Heels

Go-Go’s Musical ‘Head Over Heels’ Books Broadway’s Hudson Theater

Head Over Heels

The Go-Go’s musical “Head Over Heels” has booked a Broadway opening this summer, lining up the Hudson Theater for a run that begins previews in June.

Already set for a pre-Broadway engagement at San Francisco’s Curran Theater, “Head Over Heels” uses the hits of the all-female band the Go-Go’s to tell a fanciful story set in the Elizabethan era about a royal family and an oracular prediction of doom. Songs in the score including “We Got the Beat,” “Vacation” and “Our Lips Our Sealed,” as well as “Mad About You” and “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” two of band member Belinda Carlyle’s solo hits.

The project has picked up some buzz thanks to the appeal of the band’s well-known music — not to mention the attachment of Gwyneth Paltrow, who is a member of the producing team. Also stirring up enthusiasm is the pedigree of a creative team that includes director Michael Mayer (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “Spring Awakening”) and a number of the designers that were involved in the Tony-winning revival of “Hedwig.”

Lined up for the cast are Andrew Durand, Iman Jones, Jeremy Kushnier, Bonnie Milligan, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Peppermint, Tom Alan Robbins, Alexandra Socha and Rachel York.

“Head Over Heels” runs April 10-May 6 at the Curran in San Francisco prior to Broadway, where the show begins previews June 23 ahead of a July 26 opening.

Rick Ferrari, Donovan Leitch, Christine Russell, Louise Gund, Hunter Arnold, Tom Kirdahy and Jordan Roth are on the producing team with Paltrow, while Carole Shorenstein Hays, Scott Sigman, Robert Kravis, Vikram Chatwal, Carrie Clifford, The John Gore Organization and Mara Sandler serve as co-producers. Julie Boardman is associate producer with 101 Productions, Ltd. as exec producer.

With fewer than 1,000 seats, the Hudson is a relatively intimate venue for a musical. The venue’s current occupant, Uma Thurman headliner “The Parisian Woman,” closes March 11.

Bruno Mars Grammys

Grammy Awards Review: A Slick Ceremony With a Few Moments of Urgency

James Corden Grammys Host

Thank the musical gods for Kesha, SZA, Janelle Monae, and Rihanna. These women, among others, rode to the rescue of Sunday’s Grammy Awards ceremony, which was generally quite tame — with a few exceptions.

Sure, several musicians made statements with their music: Kendrick Lamar’s time on stage was electric, and there were energizing performances from Childish Gambino, Logic and Pink. One could make the argument that Bruno Mars won too many awards, but it was not humanly possible to resist Mars and Cardi B’s rendition of their infectious pop tune “Finesse.”

Other than that, though, the Grammys were professional, smooth and generally predictable. The first half of the broadcast seemed especially disconnected from the cultural moment. It felt, for long periods, as though it came from another planet — one on which Times Up, #MeToo and the post-Weinstein era were distant entities.

Of course, many presenters and audience members wore white roses in support the Times Up movement. One live performance paid tribute to music lovers who died in violent incidents at concerts in Manchester and Las Vegas, and Lady Gaga worked a “time’s up” mention into her performance.

Bruno Mars Grammys

Grammys Ratings Woes Worse Than They Appear: A Bad Sign for Oscars?

How the Grammys Embraced Diversity and Still Lost

But otherwise, the proceedings often felt fairly unremarkable. Singles were plugged, managers and executives were thanked, jokes were made, and there were many references to the Grammy’s 60th anniversary. In the Best Pop Solo category, four female artists competed with Ed Sheeran, who won the award. When he didn’t show up to collect it, you could feel the air drain out of the room. All in all, in an era in which female musicians dominate not just all kinds of musical categories but also popular culture in general, to see so few collect major awards on Sunday was a bit surreal, to say the least.

And though James Corden was an affable host whose energy never flagged, it wasn’t his best outing at an awards show. His jokes and introductions were acceptable, but not much more than that. A contrived attempt to make Corden’s subway ride with Sting and Shaggy into a viral moment went on too long and was quickly forgotten.

Unlike that awkward “Carpool Karaoke” moment, there were a few moments in the broadcast that are destined to live on after the credits rolled on Sunday’s Grammys. Two of them came courtesy of Janelle Monae and Kesha, whose time on stage shifted everything, at least temporarily.

Monae delivered a concise warning to the audience: She said that women “mean business” and that their patience was at an end when it came to harassment, pay inequality, abuse of power and discrimination. Whether the most powerful people in the audience in Madison Square Garden will do their utmost to curb those kinds of abuses in the music industry is anyone’s guess, but what Monae said needed to be spoken out loud, and her delivery was charismatic and powerful.

Her speech was succeeded by the most moving and relevant performance of the night. Surrounded by her fellow artists, who were all dressed in white, Kesha performed “Praying,” and the intensity with which she delivered the song was galvanizing. It was an emotionally raw moment in a glossy broadcast that very much needed one. As she collapsed into understandable tears, she was embraced by the other women on stage — a visual reminder of the kind of female solidarity that has come to the fore of late.

For much of the rest of the broadcast, however, it would seem that Grammy organizers were, paraphrasing the words of “30 Rock’s” Jack Donaghy, trying to make it 1991 again through science or magic.

Midway through the ceremony, Sting performed “An Englishman in New York,” a song that came out more than three decades ago. The most generous reading of that moment was that the organizers of the Grammys wanted to draw attention to the plight of immigrants to this country — but it’s hard to give that explanation much weight when the song was sung by a famous, wealthy white man. Few would argue that Sting’s in danger of being deported.

More importantly, why was Sting performing at all? Every minute of a high-profile broadcast like this is potentially important — commercially, of course, but culturally and politically as well. But Sunday’s Grammys, the first in 15 years to be broadcast from New York, took not just one but two opportunities to showcase the work of the former Police frontman, and he also presented an award. I cede my love of the Police to no one, and of course Sting has built an impressive career. But he’s not especially relevant to this moment in time, musically or culturally, which makes it extremely strange that he got a lot of Grammy airtime, as opposed to, say, Lorde, who apparently wasn’t even offered her own solo performance slot.

I’m well aware that the Grammys aren’t especially known for having their finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist, and that the annual ceremony is more a test of endurance. That’s partly because the event has to accommodate the demands of a very diverse array of music industry constituencies; given all the factions that must be catered to, there are always going to be some awkward selections and strange collisions. (One Broadway song was probably enough, but two seemed a bit like overkill –though I’m sure fans of musicals wouldn’t agree.)

All the more reason to celebrate the well-chosen trio of Logic, Khalid and Alessia Cara, who performed the anti-suicide song “1-800-273-8255” with eloquent urgency. After the song was over, in an homage to immigrants to this country and the “beautiful” nations they come from, Logic declared that those countries and their citizens were “not s—holes.”

That comment was bleeped for broadcast. It was somehow ironic and perfectly on brand that one of the most memorable moments of the Grammys wasn’t even heard by viewers at home.