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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

At politically-charged Grammys, Hillary Clinton, Time’s Up and ‘sh*thole countries’ in spotlight

The 60th annual Grammy Awards became a platform for artists to address sexual harassment and abuse, but also President Donald Trump, immigration and gun violence.

music Updated: Jan 29, 2018 12:21 IST
Kesha (C) performs with (from L to R) Bebe Rexha, Cindy Lauper, Camila Cabello and Andra Day during the 60th Annual Grammy Awards show on January 28, 2018, in New York.
Kesha (C) performs with (from L to R) Bebe Rexha, Cindy Lauper, Camila Cabello and Andra Day during the 60th Annual Grammy Awards show on January 28, 2018, in New York.(AFP)

One-time Grammy winner Hillary Clinton made it back to the awards show Sunday night in a role she no doubt relished. She was a surprise guest in a skit by host James Corden, supposedly auditioning for the spoken word recording of Michael Wolff’s best-seller on President Donald Trump’s administration, “Fire and Fury.”

She followed John Legend, Cher, Snoop Dogg, Cardi B and DJ Khaled, all of whom Corden found wanting. The final “auditioner” lowered the book from in front of her face to reveal it was Clinton. Corden said she got the job and was a sure winner.

“You think so?” Trump’s 2016 election opponent said. “The Grammy’s in the bag?”

Clinton is already a Grammy winner from 1997, for reading her book, “It Takes a Village.”

Nikki Haley: Don’t ruin great music with trash

Not everyone was a fan of the moment. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Halley tweeted that the moment ruined the Grammy-watching experience for her.

“I have always loved the Grammys but to have artists read the Fire and Fury book killed it,” she tweeted. “Don’t ruin great music with trash. Some of us love music without the politics thrown in it.”

Show producer Ken Ehrlich said backstage that Corden and his producers did the work of convincing Clinton to appear. They sent her the script and in a few days, Clinton agreed to do it.

Neil Portnow, head of the recording academy, told The Associated Press that he felt Clinton’s appearance was more satirical than political.

“The excerpts that were read from the book weren’t really political,” he said. “We have a history of pointing out funny things, unusual things about our leadership.”

It wasn’t the only political moment at the awards show. Like the pre-recorded skit with Clinton, all were meticulously planned.

Three country artists who were on the bill at the country music festival that was the site of a mass shooting in Las Vegas in October joined to sing a somber version of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.” Eric Church, Maren Morris and the Brothers Osborne performed before a backdrop with the names of shooting victims.

Janelle Monae: Time’s Up

Singer Janelle Monae spoke up for women’s rights in an introduction to Kesha’s performance of her song “Praying,” which is about fighting back against mistreatment. Kesha accused her former producer, Dr. Luke, of sexual assault. The charges were later dropped, but Kesha’s song was an obvious reference to her battle, and she was joined by about a dozen other women singers backing her up.

“We come in peace, but we mean business,” Monáe said. “And to those who would dare try to silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s Up. We say Time’s Up for pay inequality; Time’s Up for discrimination; Time’s Up for harassment of any kind; and Time’s Up for the abuse of power.”

Camila Cabello: Country built by dreamers for dreamers

Rapper Logic led a song calling attention to a suicide prevention hotline, joined by Alessia Cara and Khalid. “Black is beautiful, hate is ugly,” he said at the song’s conclusion.

Singer Camila Cabello, a Cuban-Mexican immigrant brought to the United States as a child, spoke in favour of legal protections for so-called “dreamers.”

“This country was built by dreamers for dreamers,” said Cabello, who introduced the rock band U2.

Bono: Blessed are the s**thole countries

In a pre-recorded performance of their song “Get Out of Your Own Way,” U2 was on a barge in the New York harbour with the Statue of Liberty in the background. As the song ended, Bono referenced Donald Trump’s recent disparaging remarks, shouting, “Blessed are the shithole countries, for they gave us the American Dream.” (It was censored on live TV.)

First Published: Jan 29, 2018 12:13 IST

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