While the Grammys was more diverse this year than other industry shows, like the Oscars, tend to be, viewers still felt the music awards show failed to properly recognize female artists. The show prompted the hashtag #GrammysSoMale in large part due to the fact that Lorde was not invited to perform a solo set despite her nomination for the Best Album award. Three of the other nominees did perform: Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars, and Childish Gambino. Jay-Z, the fifth nominee did not take the stage, though he was offered a solo spot. Lorde was only invited to perform as part of a tribute to Tom Petty. She declined to do so.
Prior to the awards show, Lorde's mother, poet Sonja Yelich tweeted a photo from the New York Times.
The tweet shares that only nine percent of nominees in the past six years have been women, and that Lorde is the only female nominee for Best Album. Yelich's tweet undoubtedly condemns the Recording Academy's failure to highlight Lorde's work with a solo performance, which irked viewers.
People were also miffed that Ed Sheeran beat four other women for the pop vocal award. Sheeran won for "Shape of You" over work from Lady Gaga, Pink, Kesha, and Kelly Clarkson.
In response to the negative reactions, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow shared his rationale. “Every year is different, we can’t have a performance from every nominee — we have over 80 categories," he explained. "So we have to realize that we’ve got to create something that has balance, and so on and so forth. And what you saw was our best judgment of how to do that.”
Portnow's explanation placed the majority of responsibility on women.
I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and their 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 an executive level 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 really a combination — it’s us as an industry making the welcome mat very obvious, creating mentorships, creating opportunities not only for women but for all people who want to be creative and really paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists who feel like they can do anything and say anything.
Portnow's logic is the equivalent of "I'm not hitting you"—you know, when a kid hits another child with the child's own arm and pleads innocence.