- The 2020 Grammy Awards took place last night, with Billie Eilish breaking records after sweeping in all four major categories.
- Guests and viewers also mourned the loss of recently deceased LA legends Nipsey Hussle and Kobe Bryant with special tributes during the show.
- While dealing with backlash over corruption accusations from its former president, the Recording Academy also faced criticism from Tyler the Creator and Diddy who slammed its treatment and categorization of black artists.
Billie Eilish Wins Big
The biggest names in music gathered for 62nd annual Grammy Awards Sunday night, which proved to be a tough and emotional event mixed with celebration and mourning.
The stand out winner of this year’s show was Billie Eilish, who took home awards in all four major categories: Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Album of the Year.
Thanks to the success of her debut album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” and her smash hit “Bad Guy,” the 18-year-old has made history as the second artist to sweep in the top four categories, after Christopher Cross in 1981. She is also the youngest person and first woman to ever do so.
On top of that, Eilish is now the youngest person to ever win in the Album of the Year category, beating out Taylor Swift, and the youngest to take home Record of the Year, a spot previously held by Sam Smith and Kimbra.
Aside from the four major wins, the singer also won a 5th award for Best Pop Vocal Album.
Mourning Nipsey Hussle and Kobe Bryant
The Grammys also took a moment to celebrate the later rapper Nipsey Hussle with a star-studded tribute performance just hours after honoring him with his first Grammy posthumously.
The performance, which included the likes of John Legend, YG, DJ Khaled, and others, concluded with an image of Hussle alongside Kobe Bryant, the 41-year-old basketball legend who passed away just hours before the show.
Bryant, his 13-year old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash Sunday morning– news that stunned family, friends, and fans across the country.
The two were on their way to a youth basketball game with Orange Coast College baseball coaching legend John Altobelli, his wife Keri, their daughter Alyssa, mother and daughter Sarah and Payton Chester, assistant coach Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan, who all died in the tragic accident.
Bryant’s shocking death was also addressed at the show’s opening by host Alicia Keys who said, “We’re all feeling crazy sadness right now.”
“Earlier today, Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero. We’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”
After her opening remarks, Keys began a line from the Boys II Men song “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” and was joined by the ban itself moments later.
Recording Academy Scandal and Tyler the Creator on Diversity Issues
Though grief seemed to overshadow much of the night, the award show also had to deal with ongoing scandals and criticisms.
Dugan was ousted earlier this month, and since then, accusations of harassment, corruption, and conflict of interests have been thrown each way. Dugan recently filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing the Academy of retaliation, sexual misconduct, improper voting practices, and more. Meanwhile, the Academy accused Dugan of creating a “toxic and intolerable” work environment and engaged in “abusive and bullying conduct.”
But concern over insider Recording Academy practices also made headlines when Tyler the Creator seemed conflicted after earning his first-ever Grammy for Best Rap Album. Following a gracious acceptance speech, Tyler spoke to reporters backstage about the Recording Academy’s voting process.
While he said he was “very grateful” to have his work acknowledged, he called the categorization of his music as rap a “backhanded compliment.”
“It sucks that whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me — do anything that’s genre-bending or that’s anything they always put it in a rap or urban category. I don’t like that ‘urban’ word — it’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me,” he said.
Sean “Diddy” Combs showed similar concerns at Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy gala on Saturday, saying the Recording Academy has never respected black artists.
“Black music has never been respected by the Grammys to the point that it should be. So, right now, in this current situation, it’s not a revelation. This thing been going on and it’s not just going on in music. It’s going on in film. It’s going on in sports, It’s going on around the world,” he said.
He went to say that it was silly to allow “institutions that have never had our best interest at heart, to judge us.”
“We need transparency. We need diversity. This is the room that has the power to make the change. It needs to be made. They have to make the changes for us,” he continued.
Tyler’s comments come just as the Recording Academy announced new diversity initiatives to “ensure that the Academy — and the music business — is truly representative of artists and their audiences.”
Chairman and Interim Chief Executive Officer Harvey Mason Jr. said in his message to Academy members Sunday morning: “The music we create has always reflected the best of ourselves and our world. But what was true of music has historically not been true of the music business as a whole.”
“Too often, our industry and Academy have alienated some of our own artists — in particular, through a lack of diversity that, in many cases, results in a culture that leans towards exclusion rather than inclusion,” he added.
Justin Bieber Apologizes After Supporting Morgan Wallen’s Music
Bieber said he had no idea the country star had recently faced backlash for using a racial slur.
Justin Bieber Apologizes
Singer Justin Bieber apologized on Wednesday after sharing support for music from embattled country singer Morgan Wallen.
In February, Wallen was caught saying the n-word on a video circulated by TMZ. He was subsequently dropped from major country radio stations and suspended by his label. Still, he has managed to have a successful year so far, and his album — “Dangerous: The Double Album” — has spent months at the top of the carts.
Bieber posted on his Instagram story this week that he was listening to “Dangerous” and said he loved the album. He ended up deleting that post after fans called him out. Bieber later explained that he was unaware of Wallen’s recent controversy.
“I had no idea that the guy’s music I posted was recently found saying racist comments, as you know I don’t support or tolerate any sort of racism or deicrimination,” he wrote on his Instagram story. “I had no idea, I sincerely apologize to anyone I offended.”
Bieber Addresses Previous Controversies
The “Sorry” singer then addressed backlash he previously faced for a similar reason. Two videos surfaced in 2014 depicting Bieber using racial slurs when he was younger. In the first, he was 15-years-old and told a racist joke using the n-word. Bieber was 14-years-old in the second video, where he made a racist parody of his song “One Less Lonely Girl” that likewise included the n-word. He apologized for both at the time and brought them up again on Wednesday in hopes others could learn from his mistakes.
“When I was a kid, I was incredibly ignorant and said some very hurtful racist jokes that were clearly not funny,” he wrote. “I hurt a lot of people, especially the Black people in my life but was fortunate enough to have had them educate me on the horrifying origin of the N-word. This brings those painful memories back up, I will always take ownership for my ignorance and my past because I know I am not that person.“
He added that even though he has already apologized for these remarks, he believes it is important “to bring this up to hopefully educate people who may be ignorant to the topic of racism and how hurtful it is.”
He added that he has a lot left to learn but is thankful for the patience he has received, particularly from the Black community.
Read more: (Entertainment Weekly) (Complex) (The Hollywood Reporter)
Selena Gomez Slams “The Good Fight” for Kidney Transplant Joke
The singer said the reference to her transplant was “tasteless” and encouraged writers to call out these kinds of jokes so they don’t make it on air.
Selena Gomez Addresses Joke About Kidney Transplant
Singer and actress Selena Gomez slammed a recent episode of “The Good Fight” Tuesday after it made a joke about her 2017 kidney transplant.
In one scene of the Paramount+ show, a group of characters brainstorm jokes and then start discussing what subjects are out of bounds. They ultimately agree that necrophilia, autism, and “Selena Gomez’s Kidney transplant” are not to be mentioned.
This led to swift backlash online from people who thought the series was making light of Gomez’s health struggles. Many argued on Twitter that the singer’s battle with Lupus is no laughing matter, prompting Gomez to join the conversation herself.
“I am not sure how writing jokes about organ transplants for television shows has become a thing but sadly it has apparently,” she wrote. “I hope in the next writer’s room when one of these tasteless jokes are presented it’s called out immediately and doesn’t make it on air.”
Gomez also encouraged people to register as organ donors if they are able to do so.
A source close to the production of “The Good Fight,” however, told Variety that some of the anger is being taken out of context.
“If you watch the episode in full, the reference to Selena Gomez is part of a discussion the characters are having about topics that are not okay to make fun of and the idea of cancel culture and being canceled for telling a bad joke,” the source explained. “The reference is that Selena Gomez’s transplant is not something you can joke about.”
Previous Joke in “Saved by the Bell”
Still, some believe that by referencing Gomez’s kidney transplant as something you can’t joke about, the show was in turn making a joke about it.
This is not the first time a show has made headlines for making a quip about Gomez’s procedure. In 2020, a scene from Peacock’s “Saved by the Bell” reboot was removed because it included several characters talking about the situation. In the scene, characters were asking if several people, including Gomez’s ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber and singer Demi Lovato, were secretly Gomez’s organ donor. At one point “Does Selena Gomez even have a kidney?” is written on a school hallway.
Gomez’s friend Francia Raisa gave her the kidney in an act Gomez previously described as “the ultimate gift and sacrifice.” NBC ended up apologizing for the scene, claiming they had no “intention to make light of Selena’s health.” The network also donated to The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research at the University of Southern California.
After the apology, Raisa slammed the joke in “Saved by the Bell” as offensive and dismissive to organ donors. She made no specific remarks about the joke in “The Good Fight” but retweeted Gomez’s posts on the matter.
See what others are saying: (Variety) (Entertainment Weekly) (People)
Disney Eviscerates Scarlett Johansson’s “Black Widow” Lawsuit as “Callous,” but Report Suggests Emma Stone and Emily Blunt May Follow Her Lead
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” the company said in an uncharacteristically blunt statement that was heavily criticized online.
Johansson/Disney Lawsuit Gets Bitter
Disney has described a recent lawsuit from “Black Widow” actress Scarlett Johansson as “sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” but Johansson may have just unleashed what is to become an even bigger legal challenge for the House of Mouse.
At the center of this dispute, Johansson alleges she lost $50 million because Disney opted for a dual streaming/theater release of “Black Widow,” which debuted in theaters and for $30 on Disney+ with Premier Access earlier this month.
According to Johansson’s suit, her contract with Disney — which was negotiated prior to any hint of a pandemic — stipulated that “Black Widow” would see an exclusive theater release. Notably, the actress also said her contractual bonuses were tied to the movie’s box office performance, which is an extremely common practice with films featuring A-list celebrities.
Of course, when the pandemic hit — like many other industries — movies were upended. Pandemic-related changes meant that despite having an initial release date of May 2020, Marvel fans wouldn’t get a chance to see “Black Widow” for over a year.
Still, Johansson said she tried to contact Disney to renegotiate her contract prior to the film’s ultimate release, but she claims the company was unresponsive.
On Thursday, she then filed a complaint with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, with her attorney arguing that “Disney has enjoyed the benefits of having one of Hollywood’s top actresses promote its wholly owned subscription service at no additional cost to Disney, and with the intended effect of taking money out of that actress’ own pocket.”
Later Thursday, Disney claimed that it has “fully complied” with Johansson’s contract and that the streamed release of the film “has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date.”
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” the company said in its uncharacteristically blunt statement.
Are Emma Stone and Emily Blunt Next?
Speaking of blunt, it was reported Friday that both Emily Blunt and Emma Stone may also file lawsuits against Disney’s dual streaming release of their films.
In fact, according to an exclusive newsletter run by former Hollywood Reporter Editor Matt Belloni, Stone “is said to be weighing her options” over the dual release of “Cruella” in May. Meanwhile, he suggested Blunt could also take action or speak out following this weekend’s release of “Jungle Cruise.”
Belloni went on to describe Disney as “notoriously difficult to deal with” regarding such matters and claimed that many have simply been waiting for someone powerful enough to speak out.
Disney Criticized for Its Response
Much of the public perception of the situation has led to overwhelming support for Johansson’s camp. Online, a slew of people lambasted Disney’s response, with many calling it a deflection.