If the 59th Grammys are any indication of what America should expect in 2017 awards season, America should expect politically-charged events. Last night’s 59th Grammys were the usual star-studded affair, with moment after moment of political statements expressed in very artistic forms through multiple artists. Artist Katy Perry’s performance became a highlight moment for many, when she took the stage and performed “Chained to the Rhythm” in a clear nod to Hillary Clinton and other feminists that have arisen in the spotlight post-election 2016, reports Time Magazine.
— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) February 13, 2017
Katy Perry is hoping to spring life back into a genre of music known as “purposeful pop” and that is, pop with a purpose. Her performance last night did not disappoint Hillary Clinton supporters who have launched a global movement since the election, known as The Resistance. Last week, after Senator Elizabeth Warren was told to sit down and be quiet by men in the Upper Chamber, the Resistance gained a little sister known as the #ShePersisted movement.
Katy Perry managed to include touches of both of these movements in her feminist inspired performance last night, and appeared on stage with a blinged up armband that merely read “Persist” in all capital letters. Singing her latest single, “Chained to the Rhythm,” live at the 59th Grammys, Katy Perry appeared in a white pantsuit and sunglasses. It was, as Time Magazine reports, a performance that was a “definite departure” from Katy Perry’s normally peppy and colorful sets.
But the political statement of the performance was the colorful and peppy move Katy Perry was making, and the statement was not lost on anybody. In addition to the “Persist” armband, a nod to Senator Elizabeth Warren, and the Hillary Clinton-inspired pantsuit, Katy Perry also sported a Planned Parenthood pin on her ensemble.
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) February 13, 2017
The lyrics to “Chained to the Rhythm” fall in the category of purposeful pop, and are also a nod to the resistance against the new establishment, the Trump Administration. The song discusses breaking free from the establishment, and not being “chained to the rhythm” of it, and cautions against living life with rose colored glasses being trapped behind a white picket fence. The song also seems to directly slam Donald Trump and his administration, particularly in one section that says “time is ticking for the empire” in the following lyric.
“It is my desire, break down the walls to connect, inspire, up in your high place liars, time is ticking for the empire. The truth they feed is feeble. And so many times before they greed over the people. They stumbling and fumbling, and we’re about to riot. They woke up, they woke up the lions.”
Purposeful pop is nothing new to music. It’s been happening since Woodstock in 1969 and even well before that, when artists used their creativity in music to make a statement to the establishment, and against the establishment. Reggae icon Bob Marley was known as a trailblazer for peace in the world and that is the legacy he left when he passed away over 30 years ago.
He is most known for many politically inspired songs, such as “Get Up, Stand Up,” a song about standing up for rights. His song considered most beautiful by many is “Redemption Song” and talks about freeing one’s self from mental slavery against racism.
Bob Marley’s “War” was about the war between the races, and discusses, “until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war, me say war, so much trouble in the world.”
And it was Skip Marley, Bob Marley’s son, that joined Katy Perry on stage last night for “Chained to the Rhythm.” The song closed out with Katy Perry and Skip Marley holding hands against the backdrop of the Constitution, with “We the people” being emblazoned in a large screen and telecast all over the world. As the pair finished their collaboration, Katy Perry called out, “No hate” and received accolades across Twitter.
The phrase “no hate” has been used in almost every protest against Donald Trump since November 9. It has been most commonly used in recent protest chants against his travel ban, that state the sentiment, “No hate no fear, refugees are welcome here.”
Katy Perry fans, and feminists that like music, can look forward to her next work, which she says will be an era that will focus on purposeful pop.
Katy Perry wasn’t the only artist that gave political nods against the establishment last night. As the Inquisitr reported this morning, Paris Jackson, daughter of the late Michael Jackson, also gave a political shout out when she said that she wished the “No DAPL” protests against the DAPL pipeline had as much energy as the Grammys.
Rapper Busta also called out the establishment when he started his performance saying he wasn’t all that politically minded. That appeared to be sarcasm, when he performed his song that included phrases like “President Agent Orange” that touched on Trump’s Muslim ban, and included an ensemble that broke through a brick wall at the end of his song.
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) February 13, 2017
Watch Katy Perry perform at the 59th Grammys with Skip Marley in their full performance of “Chained to the Rhythm” right here.
The politically charged sentiments did not stop there, and ran right through to the last performance of the evening at the 59th Grammys. President John F. Kennedy even made an appearance in his own special way, having long been an advocate for the arts.
— Beth Singer Design (@bsingerdesign) February 1, 2017
The nod to President John F. Kennedy appeared when the President of the Recording Academy Neil Portnow took the stage to introduce the memoriam component of the evening, reports the L.A. Times. Neil Portnow began with a trumpet song and asked the audience if they could recognize the tune. The tune was “America the Beautiful.”
As he began his address after the song, Portnow gave a moving speech about how now is a time for America to remember not what divides them, but to remember what common ground they have, and to use those things to create a more perfect union.
“We are constantly reminded about the things that divide us. Race, region, and religion. Gender, sexual orientation, political party. But what we need so desperately are more reminders of all that binds us together – our shared history, our common values, and our dedication to build for ourselves a more perfect union.”
He also said that “in times of triumph and tragedy,” America turns to “America the Beautiful” to “lift our spirits, soothe our souls, and remind us that everything will be okay.” “America the Beautiful” was written in 1893 and contains words that have been soothing Americans for over 100 years.
Portnow concluded his address by reminding the world over of a famous quote from President John F. Kennedy.
“The life of the arts is very close to the center of a nation’s purpose – and is a test of the quality of a nation’s civilization.”
Portnow finished his speech saying how true that was, and how important it was to stand behind American music artists and provide them with “unwavering support.” He also noted to the audience over the world that the Recording Academy calls on the president, and to Congress and Senators, to “help keep the music playing by updating music laws, protecting music education, and renewing America’s commitment to the arts. It is our collective responsibility to preserve what binds us.”
Politics has clearly moved artists in profound ways this year, with artists using awards shows to express support to the resistance movements. Katy Perry at this year’s Grammys was just one of many ways that make this the most politically-charged Grammys in recent history. The 59th Grammys then ended with a tribute and celebration to the “beautiful lives lost” in the world of music this year.
[Feature Image by Matt Sayles/AP Images]