The 61st GRAMMY Awards telecast was a massive celebration of women in music. It’s too bad the rock genre wasn’t invited to the party, because they had a hell of a representative.
From start to finish, viewers were treated to an incredible variety of performances from women including Lady Gaga, Cardi B., Kacey Musgraves, Camila Cabello, Alicia Keys, Brandi Carlile, Chloe x Halle, St. Vincent and many more.
And that list should have included Halestorm.
Halestorm was nominated for Best Rock Performance for “Uncomfortable,” which is oddly appropriate. A big reason why the telecast was so women-centric was in response to some very awkward and off-the-mark comments last year from now exiting Recording Academy president Neil Portnow.
Portnow gave this ridiculous answer when asked by Variety why last year’s GRAMMY telecast only featured one solo woman winning an award:
“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… [They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome. 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.”
It’s probably no coincidence Portnow, who’s been at the helm of the Recording Academy since 2002, is letting his contract expire in July 2019. The fact Portnow was also accused of siphoning money from the charity MusiCares in order to cover losses from last year’s GRAMMY telecast doesn’t help either.
All of this and more would have been a perfect reason why Halestorm should’ve performed their GRAMMY nominated song, “Uncomfortable.” Not only is Halestorm one of rock’s best live acts, but can you imagine Lzzy Hale delivering lyrics like these on a telecast that was, more or less, about defiance?
“I did it all to break
every single preconceived notion that you have
I did it all to shake
every single one of your emotions and just to make you
I love to make you
The Academy certainly know who she is, and they know her phone number: she was one of the presenters during the pre-telecast. And even though there were a number of performances during that show -- representing jazz, new age, dance music, and other genres -- there were no rock performances there, either.
Want to know what award show did invite Hale to play? The CMT Awards, back in 2014, saw Eric Church duet with Lzzy on "That's Damn Rock N' Roll." Watch her tear it up, in the video below.
Uploaded by Ben Cleary on 2014-06-05.
Halestorm had an acclaimed album in 2018, Vicious, and Hale can hold her own alongside anyone on stage. And she was at the GRAMMYs. She could have been the centerpiece of rock's big moment. Instead, representing rock we got Post Malone with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who weren’t even eligible for a GRAMMY; their last album was 2016's The Getaway. Also, this performance was basically just a repeat of what Malone did with Aerosmith at the 2018 VMAs; it also said nothing about rock in 2018.
We did get St. Vincent, a guitar goddess who technically falls under “rock representation” since she won the GRAMMY for Best Rock Song for “Masseduction.” If there were a Best Alternative Song category, “Masseduction” would be better suited for that category. Her performance with pop artist and Best New Artist winner Dua Lipa was one of the show's highlights. to be sure. But judging by online sentiment of rock fans, it wasn't enough.
That meant that once again, rock got snubbed on “Music’s Biggest Night.” This year’s GRAMMY telecast's most disrespectful moment, however, was the omission of the late Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott from the “In Memoriam” segment.
The GRAMMY telecast, as a whole, was a massive step up for diversity in music, particularly for women. But if they're looking to keep the attention of rock fans, it was an epic fail. Next year, they should invite some bona fide rock stars (with music recorded and released in 2019), instead of just having hip-hop artists who sing about them.
Erica Banas is rock/classic rock news blogger that loves the smell of old vinyl in the morning.