The performers, nominees and presenters at this year’s Grammy Awards showed their support for the #TimesUp campaign by wearing and carrying white roses on the red carpet Sunday night.
Once inside though, it was all about the men, who walked home victorious in every single category but one during the extended telecast of the annual event.
That prompted outcry on Twitter and led to the birth of #GrammysSoMale, a hashtag that is continuing to trend in the wake of comments made by the president of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow.
When asked about the lack of female winners and nominees in major categories this year in an interview with Variety, Portnow 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, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level.’
He then added: ‘[They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome.’
Portnow’s claim that the Academy would ‘welcome’ women was made on the same night he refused to let Best Album nominee Lorde perform citing a lack of time.
Off pitch: ‘[They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome,’ said Neil Portnow when asked about the #GrammysSoMale controversy (Portnow above with Best Album, Song and Record winner Bruno Mars on Sunday)
Huh?: Portnow eliminated the one category that honored women back in 2012 when the Academy eliminated Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, which became Best Pop Solo (the nominees on Sunday night above, with Ed Sheeran winning)
Unicorn: Alessia Cara was the only lady to take home a solo Grammy during the telecast when she won Best New Artist (Cara above in the press room)
Lorde responded to that slight on Twitter by writing: ‘IF YOU’RE DEBATING WHETHER OR NOT I CAN MURDER A STAGE… COME SEE IT FOR URSELF.’
She also included an emoji of a smiling angel.
The omission of Julia Michaels is perhaps worse, with the singer being relegated to singing backup for Ke$ha despite being a nominee for Best Song.
And despite there being no room or time for Michaels and Lorde, Portnow and his producers did find a way to give Sting a 10-minute showcase during the ceremony, despite the fact that he has not been nominated for an award since 2006.
Sam Smith was also given a showcase near the top of the program despite not receiving a single major nomination this year. The same goes for Elton John and Miley Cyrus.
Portnow addressed this in another tone deaf response, saying: ‘We have a wealth of riches every year, and it’s hard to have a balanced show and have everybody involved.’
It was also Portnow who decided to drop the one category that specifically honored women back in 2012, when the Academy eliminated the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance category.
That decision did not stop Portnow from saying: ‘I don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face but I think it’s upon us – us as an industry – to make the welcome mat very obvious, breeding opportunities for all people who want to be creative and paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists.’
Best Female became part of the Best Pop Solo Performance category that same year, and on Sunday night four of the five nominees were women.
Powerhouse performers Kelly Clarkson and Lady Gaga – who both previously won a Grammy in the Best Female category – were joined by Pink and Ke$ha, whose deeply personal song ‘Praying’ about her alleged abuses was the early favorite to win.
Ke$ha did not win her first Grammy in the end, losing out in both this category and Best Pop Vocal album to Ed Sheeran and his single ‘Shape of You.’
That upset drew a strong response on social media, with many quick to point out that Sheeran won for a song in which he sings about the shape of a woman’s body.
Don’t sing so close to me: Portnow then said that women ‘would be welcome,’ on the same night he refused to allow Best Album nominee Lorde perform during the telecast (Lorde on left, Sting right)
Thinking out loud: Once again, #EdSheeran wins over much stronger female contenders, so instead of #Kesha ‘s song about overcoming sexual abuse, we reward another song by a man about a woman’s body,’ wrote Anya Silver (above)
Stinmgs: ‘And Mo Ryan wrote: ‘I’m 51. And Sting is a fine artist. He wasn’t nominated for anything. He got 10 minutes of screen time’
‘Once again, #EdSheeran wins over much stronger female contenders, so instead of #Kesha ‘s song about overcoming sexual abuse, we reward another song by a man about a woman’s body,’ wrote Anya Silver on Twitter.
And Mo Ryan wrote: ‘I’m 51. And Sting is a fine artist. He wasn’t nominated for anything. He got 10 minutes of screen time. Lorde, the only female Album of the Year nominee, got exactly zero stage time.’
It was Alessia Cara who scored the one solo win of the night, beating out SZA and Julia Michaels, among others, for Best New Artist.
Rihanna was also a winner during the telecast, but for Best Rap / Sung Collaboration with Kendrick Lamnar.
There were not even any females among the many writers and producers in the Best Song, Record and Album categories, which all went to Bruno Mars.
This does however come just one year after Adele won big in 2016 and the year before that it was Taylor Swift who owned the night.
And it was not just the women who were slighted, with Jay Z also walking home empty handed despite his eight nominations.