The 2017contained more than a few notable political moments, some more subtle than others.
Host James Corden broke the seal on political statements, name-checking President Donald Trump in his “Hamilton”-esque rap at the top of the show with the lyric, “With President Trump, we don’t know what comes next.”
Corden was far from the only one. The evening’s first presenter, Jennifer Lopez, worked in a call to arms for her fellow artists because of how inspiring music is needed “in this particular time in history.” Lopez then quoted Toni Morrison: “There is not time for despair no place for self-pity, no need for silence and no room for fear,” she recited.
When presenter Paris Jackson took the stage, she remarked that they could use the Grammys’ level of enthusiasm “at a Dakota pipeline protest” before shouting, “Hashtag No DAPL!”
Some of the more subtle statements included Katy Perry’s “Persist” armband, donned during her performance of her new single, “Chained to the Rhythm.” The armband was a reference to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s silencing on the Senate floor when she read a letter by Coretta Scott King opposing Jeff Sessions. At the time, top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell said, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Before introducing a performance by Lady Gaga and Metallica, “Doubt” star Laverne Cox used her time of stage to draw attention to the upcoming Supreme Court case of transgender teen, a Virginia high schooler who was barred from using the boys’ restroom by the Gloucester County School Board.
“Please Google Gavin Grimm. He’s going to the Supreme Court in March. Hashtag stand with Gavin,” Cox said.
But the most overtly political statement of the night -- and the most directly in opposition to the president -- was the performance by A Tribe Called Quest, which featured Busta Rhymes chastising “President Agent Orange” for the immigration ban and his divisive politics.
“I want to thank President Agent Orange for perpetuating all of the evil you’ve been perpetuating throughout the land,” Rhymes said.
The group then launched into “We the People” after breaking down a giant wall on stage to reveal a multicultural mix of people, including a young woman in a headscarf. An even larger multiethnic crowd streamed out of the audience and onto the stage by the end of the song, which concluded with group member Q-Tip shouting, “Resist” over and over again.