It wasn't nominated, but Charli's duet with Christine and the Queens is my personal SOTY.
Do you hear that sound? It's the subtle hum of the music hive buzzing, because the Recording Academy just announced their nominees for the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.
A brief summary of this year's honorees: Rapper-flautist extraordinaire Lizzo earned the most nominations with eight total, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best New Artist. Lil Nas X and Billie Eilish weren't too far behind with six nods each, including nominations in the same categories. Indieheads might be pleased to know that Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend, and Lana Del Rey are also up for Album of the Year. The best news of all is that Ed Sheeran received absolutely no nominations.
While it's pretty cool to see so many newcomers welcomed to the Grammy roster—including Lil Nas X, a young queer POC, three demographics historically overlooked by the Recording Academy—I couldn't help but notice a few glaring voids among the nominations. In particular, I'm devastated that "Gone" by Charli XCX featuring Christine and the Queens, my personal song of the year, has been forgotten altogether.
Released in July, "Gone" was the third single preceding Charli's latest album, Charli, her first full-length project since 2017's cult-favorite masterpiece, Pop 2. On first listen, the magic of the song is glaringly evident; the clanging, stuttering PC Music production melds perfectly with Charli and Chris' poppy melodies. As they deliver one of the year's best and most relatable lyrics—"I feel so unstable, f***ing hate these people"—"Gone" perfectly exemplifies the catharsis and healing that can come from a great bop.
i really feel like Gone is one of the best songs that has been released this year.... like it's in the top 10 best songs of the year FOR SURE. right?!? rt if u agree.
— Charli (@charli_xcx) September 19, 2019
But Charli exists in a strange overlap between underground fame and mainstream recognition, a juxtaposition she's aware of and even embraces. But the Grammys aren't friendly to artists in that sphere. Charli hasn't had one of her own songs crack the Hot 100 since 2015's "Break the Rules" (though she did have a hand in penning "Señorita," the No. 1 hit that earned Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello a Best Pop Duo/Group Performance nomination). Charli did see moderate success on the Billboard 200, peaking at #42, but that's evidently not enough momentum in the Academy's eyes.
Few pop songs this year can match the force that is "Gone," and nearly everything that came close—such as Normani's solo debut "Motivation"—were also snubbed for this year's awards. Some of the Best Pop Solo Performance nominees, like Beyonce's "Spirit" and Taylor Swift's "You Need to Calm Down," were letdowns coming from their respective artists, while the Duo/Group category—save for maybe "Old Town Road"—is incredibly underwhelming. Maybe Charli will forever remain a sort of concealed revolutionary in pop. Maybe I'll just have to be OK with that.
The Trump-Twitter Industrial Complex continues to fester and mutate.
This week, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a false statement about mail-in ballots.
He wrote that secretaries of state were sending mail-in ballots to every person, when actually states are only sending out ballot applications. For the first time, Twitter jumped in to fact-check Trump's statement, adding a link to a webpage full of information about mail-in ballots.
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Was the Jimmy Fallon Blackface Skit Intentionally Released as a Distraction from the Murder of George Floyd?
Racist police violence is a modern epidemic. So why are we talking about an SNL skit from 2000?
At this point, celebrity apologies are incredibly common. In 2020, it seems like some formerly beloved actor or TV personality is being put through the wringer of public opinion a few times a week.
Most recently, Twitter canceled Jimmy Fallon after an unquestionably racist skit from the 2000 season of SNL resurfaced online. The skit features Fallon impersonating Chris Rock, complete with black face and an offensive imitation of Rock's speech patterns.
Jimmy Fallon Blackface youtu.be
This quickly led to the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty trending on Twitter. While fans seemed split on whether Fallon should be forgiven for the 20-year-old misstep, most everyone agreed that Fallon should apologize regardless. This morning, he did just that in the form of a tweet.
As far as celebrity apologies go, Fallon's is a pretty good one. He doesn't try to sidestep the blame, he doesn't bring up the fact that there were undoubtedly many, many other individuals involved in the creation of the skit, and he doesn't even mention the fact that in 2000, many people still thought it was possible for black face to be done in the spirit of fun, because the deeply racist nature of the act was largely ignored in mainstream (white) media. Of course, we know better now, and it's easy to see that a white person doing an exaggerated imitation of a black person—darkened skin included—can only be a racist, belittling act with a long, dark history of racial oppression. With that in mind, Fallon's only option was to apologize without caveat or reservation. Indeed, it's refreshing to see a celebrity apology that doesn't try to justify or minimize their own misstep. While we can all agree Fallon made a terrible, racist choice 20 years ago, we have to believe that, like all of us, he's grown since then. If cancel culture is to have any efficacy in making the world a better place, it has to leave room for forgiveness and growth. Hopefully, the whole affair will leave Fallon (and those who witnessed it) more racially sensitive.
All of that being said, one has to ask why the clip was brought up now, given that it's been circulated around the Internet before, and the specific YouTube clip that was shared was posted on the site over a year ago. It's also worth noting that the version of the clip that was going around Twitter has a text overlay that reads: "NBC FIRED MEGAN KELLY FOR MENTIONING BLACKFACE. JIMMY FALLON PERFORMED ON NBC IN BLACKFACE."
Megan Kelly, an outspoken conservative, was indeed fired from her job at NBC because she defended the use of blackface in Halloween costumes, saying on her talk show, "Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who put on whiteface for Halloween," she said. "When I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as a character." While Fallon's instance of racial insensitivity was in 2000, Kelly defended blackface in 2019, long after society at large had begun to acknowledge the hurt that blackface and other forms of racial impersonation could cause. This fundamental difference aside, Kelly also has a long history of racial insensitivity that Fallon does not, even once saying, "What is the evidence that what happened to Eric Garner and what happened to Michael Brown has anything to do with race?" in a conversation about the epidemic of racist police officers in America.
Given the text overlay, it's pretty clear that whoever began the #jimmyfallonisoverparty was not necessarily seeking justice for the black community, but was instead trying to imply hypocrisy in the cancellation of Megan Kelly, given that Fallon (who has been outspoken about the flaws of the Trump administration and political pundits like Kelly) is still on the air. One even has to wonder if, given that it's obvious that the #jimmyfallonisoverparty trend was begun by a conservative individual or group, if the trend was meant to be a distraction from the widespread racist police violence that has been emphasized in recent weeks by incidents like the death of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered in Minneapolis by a white police officer on Monday. It seems oddly coincidental that the clip of Fallon should flood the Internet with controversy the day after Floyd's murder, unfortunately serving to help steer conversation away from Floyd's unjust death.
Indeed, under the unquestionably racist Donald Trump administration, more and more black people are being harassed, attacked, and murdered at the hands of racist white civilians and police officers. But Trump and his supporters don't want you to focus on that–so much so that it doesn't feel impossible that the Fallon skit was intentionally weaponized as a distraction.
In the last few weeks alone we learned that Ahmaud Arbery was murdered senselessly by a white man while simply out for a jog, and we all witnessed the harassment of Christian Cooper, a black man who was threatened by a white woman in Central Park who didn't want to put her dog on a leash. It's clear that racism in America cannot be reduced to insensitive skits from 20 years ago but is instead a current and deadly problem. What Jimmy Fallon did in 2000 was racist, yes; but don't let that distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in 2020, don't let celebrity apologies make you take your eyes of our lawmakers, who aren't doing enough to protect people of color in this country. Don't let the latest "#_____isoverparty" trend distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in our laws, culture, and criminal justice system.
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