If you thought it would take awhile after host James Corden’s intentionally stumbling and Donald Trump-referencing opening routine for the Grammy Awards to strike a political power chord, Jennifer Lopez was damn sure to prove you wrong.
“At this particular point in history, our voices are needed more than ever,” said the Shades Of Blue star just 12 minutes into the live show Sunday from the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, as she took the stage to present the first award of the night. “As Toni Morrison once said, this is precisely the time when artists go to work,” the past Grammy nominee added before she announced the Best New Artist.
“There is no time for despair, no place for self pity, no need for silence, and no room for fear. We do language, that is how civilizations heal. So tonight, we celebrate our most universal language, music as we honor the voices of the past and the present,” JLo said, just before awarding Chance The Rapper the win.
The Chicago native didn’t mention politics while accepting the award — though he did have to suffer the indignity of the show trying to play him off early into his speech thanking God and those he works with.
However, while Chance the Rapper sidestepped political talk, Paris Jackson jumped right into the arena when she came out to introduce a performance by The Weekend and Daft Punk. “We can really use this excitement at a Pipeline protest, guys,” the daughter of Michael Jackson said. “#NoDAPL,” she added, in a reference to the much disputed Dakota Access Pipeline, which has seen repeated stand-offs in recent months.
And that was just the first two presenting turns at the microphone tonight.
Back on a Sunday after last year’s move to Monday, and partially up against the winter return of ratings blockbuster The Walking Dead, the 59th annual Grammys were widely expected to see President Trump and his policies take center stage as much as Adele, the dueting Lady Gaga and Metallica, and Beyoncé. In fact, beside the political commentary, tonight’s performance-heavy CBS broadcast is widely seen as a battle between Beyoncé, who leads this year with nine nominations for Lemonade, and the 25 album singer, who had five nominations.
Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich said earlier this week that he had no problem with winners and attendees expressing their politics on music’s so-called biggest night. No word if the former Celebrity Apprentice host will be checking out the Grammys, but we know the FCC will be watching in case the language crosses lines. If that does happen, in a political context or not, the federal agency will start dropping fines on the House of Moonves. As for POTUS, only a tweet later will tell what he thought of Lopez and Jackson’s remarks.
On the Grammy red carpet today, singer Joyce Villa continued her tradition of attention-getting outfits as she showed up in a gown that said “Make America Great Again” down the side and “Trump” on the train.
Before the televised portion of the night, Adele took the awards for pop vocal album and pop solo performance for “Hello” – the latter being a victory over Queen Bee. Both the British singer and Beyoncé are up for the big prize of album of the year and record of the year – which are being presented during the live telecast and which Adele won back in 2012 with 21.
Never shy to make a statement, political or otherwise, Kanye West is up for eight nominations this year as are Drake and Rihanna. However, neither the husband of Kim Kardashian and visitor to Trump Tower, nor the former Degrassi: The Next Generation actor are expected at this year’s Grammys.
Last year, the Grammys saw a Gaga tribute to the recently deceased David Bowie (who won five Grammys today for his final album Blackstar), and tonight will see tributes to Prince and George Michael, both of whom passed away in 2016. The former Thin White Duke won four posthumous Grammys on Sunday in the pre-televised ceremony for his final Blackstar album – including Best Rock Performance. A tribute to the Bee Gees is also scheduled for tonight’s more than three-hour no jive talkin’ show.