Want to Be Heard During the Grammys? Maybe Stay Home | Modern Society of USA

Want to Be Heard During the Grammys? Maybe Stay Home

Want to Be Heard During the Grammys? Maybe Stay Home

Ariana Grande didn’t attend the Grammys, but that didn’t stop her from being at the center of the conversation about — and around — the ceremony.

On Friday she released an album, “Thank U, Next,” and a hot-button video for a new single, “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored.” And throughout Sunday, she found several ways — some earnest, some petty — to stay at the forefront of online discussion. When she won best pop vocal album, for “Sweetener,” she wrote on Twitter, “I try not to put too much weight into these things,” conceding, “this is wild and beautiful.” She appeared in a psychedelically disorienting commercial for Apple’s Memoji, with an animated Grande head performing “7 Rings.”

When Cardi B won best rap album, Grande fired off a couple of frustrated tweets; her ex-boyfriend, Mac Miller, who died last year, was a nominee. (She later apologized and deleted all of the tweets.) And she posted several photos of herself in the custom Zac Posen dress she was going to wear during the ceremony.

[Who soared and who flopped? See the best and worst of the Grammys.]

This wasn’t the Grammy experience Grande was planning to have. Up until a couple of days ago, she was slated to perform on the broadcast, a plan that imploded in spectacular fashion.

After the longtime show producer Ken Ehrlich said in an interview that Grande was no longer performing because she “felt it was too late for her to pull something together,” Grande replied with barbs.

“I’ve kept my mouth shut but now you’re lying about me,” Grande wrote on Twitter. “I can pull together a performance over night and you know that, Ken. It was when my creativity & self-expression was stifled by you, that I decided not to attend.”

And so on the night of the Grammys, all of the noise Grande generated was heard everywhere but the actual broadcast, making her one of several artists who made loud splashes without ever setting foot in the Staples Center.

This year’s ceremony was perhaps as notable for who didn’t show up — Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino (who won four awards, including record and song of the year for “This Is America”), Taylor Swift — as who did. And also for how it treated several of its biggest winners, including Drake, cutting off their speeches abruptly. (This, on a broadcast on which only nine awards were handed out over more than three and a half hours.)

[See the full winners list.]

So perhaps the best place to communicate an unfettered message during the Grammys is anywhere but the actual ceremony. The show still conceives of itself as a linear television experience, when in fact the consumption of it — and especially the stars it relies upon — is wild, woolly and omnidirectional.

Consider 21 Savage, nominated for two awards for his role on Post Malone’s “Rockstar” but unable to attend because of his detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement last week. When Post Malone performed, he didn’t mention his collaborator, which spurred a fierce backlash online. (Eventually, a photo of him wearing a 21 Savage T-shirt underneath his outfit was circulated.) Kei Henderson, one of 21 Savage’s managers, wrote on Twitter that she and others “attempted to solidify recognition for Savage during the performance of ‘Rockstar,’ it just didn’t work out that way.” The only person to mention 21 Savage during the broadcast was Ludwig Göransson, the Childish Gambino collaborator. The lack of other acknowledgment was glaring.

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