Top 10 political statements at the Grammys

The controversial policies of U.S. President Donald Trump prompted several celebrities to speak out at last month's Golden Globes and SAG Awards. The Grammys have a long history of mixing music with politics, leading many to wonder what we can expect at the awards on Sunday. Here's a look at 10 of the most politically charged moments in Grammy history.

From Kendrick Lamar to the Dixie Chicks, check out these artists who took a stand

The controversial policies of U.S. President Donald Trump have prompted several celebrities to speak out about diversity and inclusion, including Meryl Streep at last month's Golden Globes and the cast of Hidden Figures and Stranger Things at the 2017 SAG Awards.

It seems award season has been an opportune time for those in the entertainment industry to speak their minds. The Grammys already have a long history of mixing music and politics.

From Kendrick Lamar's Trayvon Martin tribute to Macklemore and Madonna's equal rights anthem, here's a look back at 10 of the most politically charged moments in Grammy history. We'll see if tonight's awards and performances add to this list.

In 2009, then newly-elected U.S. president Barack Obama received the adulation of National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences president Neil Portno, prompting conservative commentators to dub the night an 'Obama lovefest.' Here's a look at 10 more politically charged Grammy moments. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Kendrick Lamar's shout-out to Trayvon Martin.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar stole the show at last year's awards with one of the most memorable — and politically charged — performances in Grammy history. The Compton rapper walked onstage as part of a chain gang, flanked by backup dancers dressed in prison garb, with some behind bars.

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"On Feburary 26th I lost my life, too," rapped Lamar in a line referencing the 2012 shooting death of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin. The performance came to a close with the word "Compton: appearing on screen over an image of Africa.

(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Hands up, don't shoot.

Pharrell Williams also took the opportunity to address U.S. race relations during his performance at the 2015 Grammys.

While performing his hit song Happy, the singer and his backup dancers — dressed in black hoodies — held up their hands in a "hands up, don't shoot" gesture, referring to the police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown and the subsequent protests that erupted in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014.

(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

An anthem for gay rights and marriage equality. 

At the 56th annual Grammy Awards in 2014, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed their song Same Love along with Mary Lambert and Trombone Shorty. Near the end of the song, Queen Latifah took to the stage to perform a mass wedding ceremony for 33 couples, both gay and straight, while Madonna serenaded the newlyweds.  

(Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Eminem and Elton John hug it out.

Critics had attacked Eminem in 2001 for lyrics they described as homophobic and insensitive. Elton John defended the rapper, showing his support at that year's Grammys. The pair hugged after joining in a performance of Eminem's haunting song Stan.

(Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press)

Not ready to make nice.

Controversy followed the Dixie Chicks in 2003 after lead singer Natalie Maines denounced the war in Iraq and said she was "ashamed" to come from the same state as then-president George W. Bush. Fans burned their CDs, and radio stations dropped their records.

Then in 2007, the trio swept all five Grammy categories for which they were nominated, including album, song and record of the year. Their big win, particularly for the song Not Ready to Make Nice, was seen as a referendum on former president Bush and his handling of the Iraq war. 

(Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press)

The boss says 'bring 'em home.'

Bruce Springsteen graced the Grammy stage for a performance in 2006, when George W. Bush was still in office and U.S. troops were still fighting in Iraq. "Bring 'em home!" shouted Springsteen before walking off stage. 

(Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

New York State of Mind.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Billy Joel and Tony Bennett teamed up for a moving performance of Joel's song New York State of Mind at the 44th annual Grammy Awards.

Joel also earns an honourable mention for his performance at the Grammys in 1993, when he expressed his distaste for the Grammy producers' habit of cutting acceptance speeches short, stopping mid-song to quip "valuable advertising time going by. Dollars, dollars, dollars."

(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Bob Dylan gets soy bombed.

In one of the most bizarre incidents in Grammy history, a man — later identified as 26-year-old performance artist Michael Portnoy — took off his shirt and danced on stage with "Soy Bomb" written on his chest while Bob Dylan played in 1998. 

Dylan, ever the professional and no stranger to protest, kept going even as security dragged the shirtless artist off the stage. Portnoy reportedly told the New York Post he did it as "an act of pure revolution."


Sinead O'Connor boycotts the awards.

Irish singer Sinead O'Connor received four Grammy nominations in 1990, but she boycotted the awards, refusing to attend the ceremony. O'Connor also refused to accept the award for best alternative performance — the first artist in Grammy history to do so — citing the award show's "extreme commercialization." 

(Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone/Associated Press)

I am woman.

In 1973, Helen Reddy took home the Grammy for best female pop performance for her feminist anthem I Am Woman. She closed her acceptance speech with one of the most memorable lines in Grammy history: "And I would like to thank God, because she makes everything possible."

(Associated Press)

With files from Reuters and the Associated Press


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