The 59th Annual Grammy Awards took place last night in 2017’s dystopian America, and while there were plenty of deserving (and less-deserving) winners, there was one clear loser: President Agent Orange — I mean, Trump.
1. James Corden’s not-totally-cringe-inducing opening monologue rap called out Trump and called for unity with the lines “With President Trump we don’t know what comes next / We sit here tonight, don’t matter our race, where we were born or color of face / using this art, remember forever, we can survive by sticking together.”
2. Jennifer Lopez quoted author Toni Morrison while presenting the first award of the night: “This is when artists go to work.”
3. Katy Perry represented Hillary and Elizabeth Warren in a white pantsuit and “Persist” wristband. She also wore a Planned Parenthood pin and projected the Constitution on set behind her while performing her politically charged new anthem “Chained To The Rhythm.”
4. Gina Rodriguez, star of Jane the Virgin, introduced a performance by Maren Morris and Alicia Keys saying, “When women stand together, we can do amazing things.”
5. Paris Jackson used her time on stage presenting The Weeknd to advocate for water defenders at Standing Rock. When the audience applauded, she said, “We can really use this kind of excitement at a pipeline protest, guys! #NoDAPL.”
6. Laverne Cox also promoted a hashtag, #StandWithGavin, supporting a trans teen boy taking a case to the Supreme Court next month against a policy barring him from using the boys’ bathroom at his Virginia high school. “Please Google Gavin Grimm,” she said. “He’s going to the Supreme Court.”
7. Hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest and MC Busta Rhymes called out “President Agent Orange” for “perpetuating all the evil [he’s] been perpetuating throughout the United States” and for his “unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban.”
8. Solange won her first Grammy for Best R&B Performance for her song “Cranes in the Sky” and tweeted that if she had been allowed to give a speech, she would have said that black women “ARE grammys.” It was her first Grammy nomination and she beat Rihanna, Musiq Soulchild, Ro James and BJ The Chicago Kid for the statue.
9. Chance the Rapper made history as he won Best Rap Album for Coloring Book, being the first artist to be nominated for and win a Grammy without selling his music. He remains unsigned to a record label and releases his music on Spotify and Apple Music. He also won Best Rap Performance and is the first black hip-hop artist to win Best New Artist since Lauryn Hill won in 1999.
10. Frank Ocean was notably absent from the awards ceremony, having withdrawn his album Blonde from consideration, saying, “The awarding system and the nomination system and screening system is dated.” He also stated, “It just doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down” and noted the lack of black artists winning the major awards, which was clear once again last night as Beyonce’s Lemonade lost out to Adele’s 25. Solange tweeted a link to Ocean’s Tumblr statement after Beyonce’s unexpected loss with the words, “Waddup Frank.”
11. A goddess-like pregnant Beyonce blessed us with her performance of “Sandcastles” and “Love Drought,” adorned with a gold crown, religious imagery, and symbols of motherhood; practically levitating on a chair; and surrounded by mesmerizing holograms, including that of her daughter Blue Ivy. If we thought expecting twins was going to slow Queen Bey down, we were happily mistaken. She then further blessed us released the videos for both songs on Youtube.
12. Beyonce took home Best Urban Contemporary Album for Lemonade and made a huge statement in her acceptance speech:
Thank you to the Grammy voters for this incredible honor and thank you to everyone who worked so hard to beautifully capture the profundity of deep Southern culture. I thank God for my family, my wonderful husband, my beautiful daughter, my fans for bringing me so much happiness and support.
We all experience pain and loss and often we become inaudible. My intention for the film and album was to create a body of work that will give a voice to our pain, our struggles, our darkness and our history, to confront issues that make us uncomfortable. It’s important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty so they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror, first through their own families, as well as the news, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the White House, and the Grammys, and see themselves. And have no doubt that they’re beautiful, intelligent, and capable.
This is something I want for every child of every race, and I feel it’s vital that we learn from the past and recognize our tendencies to repeat our mistakes. Thank you, again, for honoring “Lemonade.” Have a beautiful evening. Thank you for tonight. This is incredible.
13. Adele was all of us when she won Album of the Year for 25, in that she recognized that Beyonce was absolutely ROBBED. “I felt like it was her time to win,” she said in an interview backstage, “What the f— does she have to do to win album of the year? That’s how I feel.” She began her acceptance speech by effectively Kanye-ing herself, saying “I can’t possibly accept this award. I’m very humbled and I’m very grateful, but Beyoncé is the artist of my life.” She then snapped the Grammy in two, a la Mean Girls.
She professed her eternal love for Bey backstage, recalling when she was “11 years old, I was with some girlfriends, and we were practicing a song to do at an assembly. I probably suggested the Spice Girls, and they said have you heard [Destiny’s Child’s] ‘No No No’? And I was like, ‘no, no, no.’ I remember how I felt hearing her voice. I fell in love immediately with her. The way I felt when I first heard ‘No No No’ was exactly the same as when I first heard Lemonade last year. … The other artists who mean that much to me are all dead.”
A black artist hasn’t won Album of the Year since 2008, and only 10 black artists have won the award since its inception in 1959. While it’s not Adele’s fault that the Academy continues to fail to recognize and reward black excellence, her speech was a gracious acknowledgment of the fact that she even knew Lemonade was the more important album.
Top Photo & Videos: Youtube/Recording Academy/GRAMMYs; all other photos: Twitter
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