To be honest, Kesha deserved a Grammy. The 2018 Grammys were a let down for a lot of women, but I believe Kesha’s comeback was the most under-rewarded.
After suing her producer, Dr. Luke, for sexual assault in 2014, the court denied her the ability to void her contract, which restricted her from releasing music with any company but Kemosabe Records, a partnership between Dr. Luke and Sony Music Entertainment. Kesha began recording again in 2016 after Sony Music assured her that Dr. Luke would not be involved in the production. He was removed as CEO in April 2017. She released her first album in five years, “Rainbow,” Aug. 11, 2017, and it was full of all the feels.
Much of “Rainbow” was written during her time in rehab for an eating disorder. The album explores the topics of physical and emotional recovery, female empowerment and moving on, but tracks like “Godzilla” and “Boogie Feet” are a reminder that the old Ke$ha isn’t completely dead.
The themes on this album are especially relevant given the rising #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Celebrities have banded together to show support for these movements at awards shows, like the Golden Globes where many individuals wore all black and Time’s Up pins to fight not only sexual harassment in the workplace but also workplace inequality. White roses were the representation for the movements at the Grammys.
Kesha’s Grammy performance of “Praying” fully embodied the celebrity support of the #MeToo movement. The performance featured a diverse, all-female chorus dressed in white. “Praying” was the first single she released from “Rainbow” and is about her healing process, allegedly after her trauma involving Dr. Luke, but she has never confirmed nor denied this.
“Rainbow” was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album, and “Praying” was nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance. Ed Sheeran took home both these awards for “÷” and “Shape of You,” respectively.
Given the atmosphere of society right now, a white man receiving awards for a song that is strictly about the female body doesn’t bode well with me. I’m not a musician, and I don’t know know how the Grammys are judged, but I know enough to understand that there were enough qualified candidates that not all men should have won. Only 20 percent of the awards went to women.
Alessia Cara received Best New Artist, but she was the only female to win a major award. SZA, the most nominated female artist, was nominated for five awards, but didn’t receive any. Meanwhile, Bruno Mars was nominated for six awards and won them all.
#GrammysSoMale started trending on Twitter.
“I think 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, who want to be producers, who want to be part of the industry on the executive level — to step up,” said Recording Academy President Neil Portnow, who has received criticism for his response.
Many female executives in the music industry have now called for his resignation in light of this comment.
Now, let me be clear. I’m not opposed to giving credit where credit is due. I’m not saying that some of these men did not deserve their awards. I don’t believe that women should be given awards just because they are women. But I do believe that women don’t need to step up. I believe that there were nominated women who are superior to their winning male counterparts. Like Kesha says in “Praying,” “And you said that I was done. You were wrong and now the best is yet to come,” and I can’t wait to see what Kesha and the rest of the female music industry do next.