The IHeartRadio Music Awards don’t have the same cache as the Grammys, but their nominations and and eventual winners make a huge statement about modern mainstream radio. IHeartRadio (part of ClearChannel) is the largest radio and internet platform in America. With 100 million registered users, it’s the second largest streaming platform (following Spotify).
So when the IHeartRadio Awards air in March, the abundance of men and significant lack of women in major categories will be staggering–especially after #GrammysSoMale reverberated so loudly over the last week. And considering their newly announced performer line-up only has two women (Cardi B and Camila Cabello), the DJ Khaled-hosted affair will surely be as male-dominated as their nominations.
Major categories like Best Duo/Group of the Year, Alternative Rock Song of the Year, Alternative Rock Artist of the Year, Rock Song of the Year, Rock Artist of the Year, Country Song of the Year, Country Artist of the Year, Dance Artist of the Year, Hip-Hop Artist of the Year, Latin Song of the Year, and Producer of the Year are all 100 percent male. The only woman included in a Song of the Year nomination is Rihanna for her cameo on DJ Khaled’s song “Wild Thoughts,” and Rihanna is also the only woman nominated for R Artist of the Year, as Cardi B is the only woman in Best New Hip-Hop Artist of the Year.
Outside of Cardi, some of the year’s biggest earners of critical acclaim and fan adoration, such as Sza, Halsey, and Pink, are relegated to the women-specific Female Artist of the Year, or fan-voted categories that expand nominees from five to 10 (including the all-female line-up of Cutest Musician’s Pet.) Lorde, who the Grammys snubbed by not giving her a live performance despite a Best Album nod, has only one appearance is in the socially voted Best Remix (“Homemade Dynamite”).
And while similar to the Grammys, many music fans don’t count on these conglomerates to get things right as far as lesser-known artists that they should be hailing (especially queer artists like Kelela, Perfume Genius, Torres, the xx, Muna, and Syd, who had incredible albums in 2017), some indisputable major players are completely MIA. Kesha, for one, sang one of the year’s biggest singles and yet IHeartRadio instead secured spots for the likes of Bruno Mars, Charlie Puth, Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes, The Weeknd, Imagine Dragons, Maroon 5, Migos, Portugal. The Man, The Chainsmokers, Foo Fighters, Highly Suspect, Metallica, Papa Roach, Royal Blood, Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett–AND SO MANY MORE MEN!
This goes beyond an awards show. Radio promotion is already heteronormative and sexist AF, with women artists being consistently asked asinine questions about their love life, alleged feuds and cat fights with other women in their field, and their sex habits instead of their musicianship. Radio DJs are more often than not straight, cis males who cross boundaries with women artists (related: the DJ who groped Taylor Swift? He just got a new gig at a Missouri radio station where he will co-host a morning show using the name Stonewall Jackson,” a name which pays homage to the Confederate Civil War general”). Ariana Grande famously shut down two Power 106 DJs, Justin Credible and Eric D-Lux, whey they asked her, live on-air, which she could go longer without–a phone or her makeup. (She responded: “Is this what you think girls have trouble choosing between? Is this men assuming that’s what girls would have to choose between?” … You need a little brushing up on equality.”)
Tegan and Sara had such a terrible time doing radio promotion with an early album that they refused to participate on following albums, despite their label’s wanting.
“I so traumatized by my experience with ‘Walking With a Ghost,'” Quinn told me last year. “We had really faced a lot of super-misogynistic, sexist DJs and radio programmers. We’d had this really humiliating experience at a big radio station near the end of So Jealous where we’d been asked live on air in front of all these contest winners if we were incestuous. I hated radio and I felt angry and the only way I could have any kind of control was to sort of deny that sort of machine from really taking affect. I pretty much made it impossible for anyone else in our career to kind of take us down that path for that album. Like I really, really strongly remember pushing back hard about it.”
That kind of pushback is exactly what needs to happen in radio, especially as it remains a must for artists looking to find listeners. Musicians depend on radio play and promotion to distribute their work, and women and LGBTQs deserve a safer and more woke environment in which to discuss their artistry. And the misogyny and homophobia that permeate mainstream radio is reflected in IHeartRadio’s Music Award line-ups and nominations, and coming so closely on the heels of criticism of the Grammys, they are pretty much saying they don’t give a fuck.
In an effort to seem LGBTQ-friendly, IHeartRadio has participated in GLAAD initiatives like Spirit Day and made Pride appearances in the past, and in 2014, the company allegedly gave its on-air talent GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide to read up on “the basics of terminology, harmful stereotypes that the LGBTQ community faces, anti-LGBTQ slurs to avoid, and the general tips for keeping LGBTQ-related content fair, accurate, and inclusive.” Yet when it comes to who they reward, it’s cis straight guys. There is no inclusive or intersectional approach, despite their desperately needing Cardi B, the biggest new star of the year, to perform or they will be irrelevant altogether.
In a #MeToo and #TimesUp moment, it’s even more egregious when institutions won’t acknowledge and rectify their misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. And within the music industry, this is clearly needing to come from the top down. We must demand better from IHeartRadio, whose influence is wide and whose decisions affect many.
The IHeartRadio Music Awards will air on TBS, TNT, and truTV on March 11. Expect a lot of testosterone and toxic masculinity, per usual.
After eight competitive episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season two, and one episode of season three, finally, finally, fi-na-lly someone gets how to take advantage of the Lip Sync for Your Legacy format. It took Shangela Laquifa Wadley herself, queen of strategy in season three of the flagship show, to step up to the plate and start asking what the other queens will do for her if she saves them. Yes, at last, a contestant is looking at the eliminate-each-other format as a chance to build alliances, not as a burden. Now, hopefully, her fellow queens will follow suit.
Things look dismal when the episode opens, as BenDeLaCreme practically complains about sweeping the premiere’s challenges. “This sucks,” she says as she wipes away eliminated queen Morgan McMichaels’ lipstick mirror message. “It’s like not winning. It feels really bad.” Despite the $10,000 prize for winning the Lip Sync for Your Legacy, and an early positive impression in the judges’ minds, Ben’s too wrapped up in having to make a tough decision and sending home one of her sisters.
Thorgy Thor, who I agreed with maybe once in season eight, speaks sense in her confessional: “Wake up, bitch! You had to make a decision. Nobody envied you, but you made it. Move forward.” Because that’s the game. All Stars is not Drag Race. The difference in the format exists for a reason. The best of the best should be capable of making hard choices to get ahead. Ben is great at Drag Race, but as evidenced by her mealy-mouthed monologue when she had to eliminate Morgan, she may not be great at certain elements of All Stars.
Meanwhile, Shangela is taking all those elements and running with them. She declares herself “the Daenerys Targaryen of drag” right out of the gate in this episode. She rules the challenge, a lip-syncing extravaganza a la season two’s Herstory of the World number, except this time it’s a drag recreation of VH1 Divas Live. Shangela takes her Mariah Carey impression over the top in all the best ways. When she makes the top two (along with Ben for the second week in a row), she immediately uses her power to forge alliances with both members of the bottom two.
Shangela is here to play the game. That will take her a lot farther than Ben’s reticence to get her hands dirty will. Because as Morgan herself noted post-elimination, this cast is out for blood.
The strategy on display, along with a contestant meltdown (more on that in a minute), make this episode a fascinating installment. It’s a good thing, too, because the actual challenge is kind of underwhelming. The queens mention how much more complex the Divas Live choreography is than Herstory of the World’s, but the actual performances are nowhere near as funny. The big problem is that the queens are just lip-syncing RuPaul songs in the style of their chosen artist there are no original lyrics here, save a few transitional lines and a final ditty (that is set to the exact same tune as Drag Race season nine’s “Kardashian: The Musical”).
Why the shift from original lyrics to a dance focus? It could be that Todrick Hall is now in charge, after the unfortunate public meltdown of former favorite Ru producer Lucian Piane. But that seems wrong, considering Hall is a prolific parodist, and his “Kardashian” was an original piece. Whatever the case, it gives queens relatively few chances to be funny or impressive save Shangela, whose Mariah number is minimally about singing and more about camping it up, and Ben, whose hard-rapping Julie Andrews is perfect. Even a cold-hearted Ben skeptic like me can admit she utterly slays this challenge. Under Drag Race rules, she’d have been the sole winner (though, under the same rules, I think Aja would’ve been the champion last week).
Joining them in the top is 10th queen Bebe Zahara Benet as Diana Ross. She effortlessly proves why less is more: She has few lyrics to lip-sync to, but every movement, every facial twitch, and every affect is right. “Here’s the key that everybody should look at for that: You didn’t do much to embody Diana,” head judge Michelle Visage says. Subtlety won out for her. Still, it’d be tough to argue for her win, considering how little she does compared to Shangela and Ben.
Taking into account both the challenge and the redeem-a-bad-look runway, some of the other results are puzzling. Trixie Mattel is safe after a terrific Dolly Parton impression, I’d imagine because it’s too expected for her (though personally, I’d have put her in the top three over Bebe). Aja joins her; her Amy Winehouse is tame, but a spectacular reworking of her Princess Disastah runway keeps her in. Chi Chi DeVayne falls just outside the bottom two, even though her Patti LaBelle is a laugh riot. The problem seemingly lies with her reworked neon look, which judge Carson Kressley knocks as “basic.” Her dancing diva sister Kennedy Davenport is not as lucky, as a poorly executed Janet Jackson impression lands her in the bottom two.
Then there’s Thorgy, bless her heart. Thorgy was a fantastic competitor on Drag Race season eight, continually scoring high in the challenges, until her lack of wins and imagined rivalry with eventual champion Bob the Drag Queen got the best of her. When she started overthinking things, she sunk into a pile of self-doubt, and never fully recovered.
All Stars brings out all the worst parts of Thorgy. She’s a mess from the word go this week, questioning why her part as Stevie Nicks isn’t as funny as the others. (Having seen the full show: Girl, save Mariah and Julie, none of them were that funny.) In rehearsals with Todrick, she imagines herself focused and galvanized, but as Ben later points out in a confessional, she spends the whole time subconsciously self-sabotaging. It’s honestly distressing to watch a talent like Thorgy melt down like this. As a result, her actual performance is kind of a mess. She looks like Stevie, but her affects are twitchy and bizarre. Her insistence during judging that Stevie Nicks isn’t a gay icon really, girl? doesn’t help her case.
Said meltdown is ultimately her undoing, as Lip Sync for Your Legacy winner Shangela’s reticence to send home her Texas sister Kennedy trumps Thorgy’s offer of an alliance. Shangela is playing strategically, and she sees Thorgy’s weaknesses for what they are. An ally is only good to her if they’ll actually perform well. So the season eight queen goes home or rather, to wherever Morgan is as they await a potential chance to Ruturn to the competition. If Thorgy wants to get back in, though, she’ll have to get through a lot of personal demons, and fast.
I’ve saved Milk for last, even though she’s just safe this week, because there’s a lot to say about the lactose queen. During the premiere, while Trixie, Kennedy, and Bebe seemed happy to be called safe, Milk looked annoyed. This week, she doubles down, whispering angrily to fellow safe queens Trixie and Aja at the back of the stage after her performance as Celine Dion registers as neither spectacular nor disappointing with the judges.
“This is fucking ridiculous,” she says. “I hate this.” She’s mad not being in the top three, Trixie asks to clarify. “Yes,” Milk insists. “Those three? Really? Fucking stupid.” It’s unclear if any of the other queens hear her, but the Drag Race editors throw on subtitles to make sure the audience catches every word.
There’s clearly a narrative being built here of Milk as villain. But last week, I thought this was mostly playful that Milk was in on the joke as she shaded the other queens in confessionals. Even this week’s sad humblebrag about doing her Celine impression for the Canadian singer’s wedding planner comes across as more pitiful than haughty.
Her sniping remarks after being called safe, however, as well as a breakdown during deliberations, make me think these are Milk’s true colors. She bursts into sobs over not being in the top “I think that’s a lot of emotion for safe,” Trixie says in her confessional and complains that she’s not being “commended” properly for her hard work. She basically throws a temper tantrum because the teacher didn’t give her a gold star.
I didn’t mind Milk in her season, and was even pretty impressed with her post-show modeling gigs. But her casting on All Stars confused me. I wasn’t sure she had more to offer in this arena. After all, being successful off the show does not automatically make you great at Drag Race. But seeing her complain that the judges didn’t properly “congratulate” her is a new low a case of spoiled Milk. What’s more, it’s an off-putting display of her privilege.
Milk is a hot, white man out of drag. That does not make the work she does in drag any less artistically valid. But it does mean we have to keep perspective on why she’s able to do the drag she does. If, for example, Kennedy’s drag was half as outré as Milk’s, she’d be relentlessly blasted by fellow queens and trolls alike. We know this because Kennedy gets hate just for doing her drag as-is, much less something so unconventional. Milk receives the benefit of the doubt in a way someone less classically handsome (or non-white) would certainly not.
Again, just to be clear: This doesn’t discount the value of Milk’s drag. She is one of the most avant-garde thinkers Drag Race has ever seen, up there with Sharon Needles, Raja, and Kim Chi. As she reminded us in the premiere, she has literally inspired Drag Race challenges. But whining that she’s not getting kudos and discounting her fellow queens’ performances while doing so is ignoring the ways in which she benefits from her privilege. She gets to stay in the competition and continue to show her unconventional drag, despite her flawed execution of it.
Because therein lies the rub: “Safe” is honestly a generous placement for Milk. Her Celine is weird and frenetic (and in not-very-Celine ways), and her runway is bland. She probably deserves the bottom three spot over Chi Chi this week. She absolutely deserved to be in the bottom two last week. Rather than throwing a fit, she should be glad she’s still in this race because if she continues performing as she has, she won’t be around much longer.
Ru specifically designates who the top and bottom three are, a change from last week, when Thorgy and Shangela floated in some nebulous middle ground after the variety show. Was Shangela in the top and Thorgy in the bottom? Were they both in the top? Were they all bottoms? This week’s distinction is much clearer, thankfully.
The Lip Sync for Your Legacy is much more evenly edited this week; thank you, Drag Race, for learning from the premiere’s Aja snub. I agree with Ru’s decision on the lip sync: Shangela pulls out all kinds of tricks on the Pointer Sisters’ “Jump,” while Ben mostly relies on the joke that she’s copying Shangela’s moves.
Trixie continues to be queen of the confessionals. Best line of the episode, on Milk’s paper dresses talent show performance from last week: “Your talent can’t be Velcro.”
Of the redemption runways, I most loved Kennedy’s (a reimagining of her infamous Death Becomes Her look), Aja’s (which shows how much she’s progressed in a year), and Ben’s (an elegant update). I admire Shangela for doing a full snowglobe look for her Queen Who Mopped Christmas Ru-do, but the execution was somewhat muddled.
Though Ben kills it as Julie Andrews, if you watch her mouth closely, you can see her dropping words in the lyrics. She did the same thing in the “Anaconda” lip sync last week. What distinguishes Ben from, say, Kennedy, who is called out for missing words, is that she covers well. That’s the mark of a smart queen.
They may not be funny, but some of the divas’ “covers” of Ru’s songs are bangers. The Dolly Parton “Adrenaline” and Amy Winehouse “U Wear It Well” are the best of them.
Bebe’s response to Ru asking her if she’s met the first lady of Cameroon “I have not met her, but she’s heard of me” had me cackling.
Forever adore Vanessa Williams, but she didn’t bring much this week, beyond a smart note about Janet Jackson’s “staccato” movement to Kennedy. Meanwhile, Todrick is always better as a choreographer than he is on the panel. The guest judges need to step up their game a bit. Perhaps Unreal’s Constance Zimmer and Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman will change the game next week?
Speaking of, the next episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars will air Thursday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m. Eastern on VH1.
Grimes, a.k.a. Canadian musician Claire Boucher, appears to have confirmed that she will be releasing a new album this year. This is incredibly good news for me, personally, and perhaps for you as well.
It all happened like this. Recap the social media play-by-play on this here blogging platform? Don’t mind if I do! A Grimes fan on Twitter was celebrating what they thought was the seventh anniversary of Grimes’ third studio album, 2012’s Visions. Boucher herself stepped in to say that it’s actually only been six years since Visions dropped and then casually mentioned that she’s got “a nu one” on the way.
actually it’s 2012 so 6 yrs and a nu one out this year so 3 albums in 6 years is not a bad level of productivity … 7 years i’d be judging myself a bit
“actually it’s 2012 so 6 years and a nu one out this year,” she tweeted. “3 albums in 6 years is not a bad level of productivity.”
“7 years i’d be judging myself a bit.”
Don’t! That’s wild! You’re doing great!
This news isn’t entirely nu. The BBC’s Culture desk recently reported that Grimes not only had a new album but that the follow-up to 2015’s Art Angels was “due for an autumn  release.”
Boucher herself has been hinting that she’ll be releasing “smthn soon” for a couple months now, and that whatever it is is gonna be “very inspired by [action-RPG] dark souls 3.” In fact, according to Pitchfork, there will be a song on the album made “for playing Dark Souls.” Wonderful news. Probably. Maybe for you, and for me as well.
The most exciting adventures begin when you give up on knowing how they’ll end. Throw away any ideas you have about what you think you’re looking foror rather, what you think you’re destined to find. Let yourself be genuinely surprised this month, and remember that it pays to be patient. Don’t give up too soon just because you think you know where it’s goingthe longer you stick around and ask questions, the more you’ll learn about how this guy (or this party or this marriage or this orgy) isn’t anything like what you expected!
Don’t get hung up this month on comparing yourself to anyone elseor even to your past self. Take stock of what’s made you who you are today. Everything about how you are at this moment is perfect when seen through the eyes of love. How easy is it to see that about yourself right now? Can you begin to forgive your imperfections and your past mistakes? Can you trust that someone new will see what is best about you, too? Take a leap of faith, and don’t let anyone shake your confidence.
How many parties have you been to this month? Are you in hibernation mode, color coordinating your book collection and doing massive jigsaw puzzles? Or have you been the one party queer keeping the scene together, running all over the city trying to keep up with everyone? Chances are you’re overdoing it this month, in one direction or the other. Take a break from whichever role is starting to feel exhausting (even if it’s comfortable) and treat yourself to a very different adventure right now.
You may be feeling a lot that’s hard to put into words this month. To be honest, you may be a little tired of feeling things so intensely. Nevertheless, you’re getting some important information from your heart right now and it’s going to help you come to terms with something from your past that you’re ready to release. Let your guard down, let someone see your vulnerability, and trust that you’ll come out the other side of this even stronger.
What if I told you that you don’t have to try to impress anyone anymorethat you’re impressive enough already? What’s blocking you from trusting that you are delightful and magnetic, endearing and adorable? The more you can trust this, right now, the easier it will be to open yourself up to really listening to and loving someone else without fear. Let yourself get curious.
You shouldn’t have to do all the work in any relationship. If you have to initiate every date, if you stress over the right casual text banter, if you’re always the one to point out that a relationship has changedthis is the month you get to go on strike. Dare to not care. Remember that you deserve to have just as much fun as anyone else, if not more.
Honey, you’ve got no time to stay at home moping about the latest tragedy. Whether you’re nursing a broken heart or just way too tuned into each news story, you’ve been spending too much time bouncing between anxious and sad. This month, you get to turn that around. Your best medicine right now is a healthy sense of humor cut with a huge dose of defiance. Don’t like the stories on rotation in your head? Go out there and make a better one!
Let’s talk about trust. There’s no such thing as totally safe sex, only “safer sex”and there’s no such thing as totally safe love, either. But this month brings up all your deep feelings about safety, including what you need to really trust someone. Don’t think you can ever really trust anyone? Start by asking what you’d need to trust yourself. Once you know how it feels to make good decisions for yourself, it’ll be much easier to see who else is out there that’s worth teaming up withfor one night or a lifetime.
Relationships shouldn’t be like Groundhog Day, where you have to repeat the same mistakes over and over until you finally change something. Too often, though, that’s the path you’re on. It’s not that you’re a slow learner, you’re just really fast to jump into a new connection and think it will be entirely different than your last one! This month gives you a great chance to end an old pattern. What are you totally done repeating? Write it down, tape it to your mirror, and say goodbye.
Sure, you’re sexy when you channel Don Draper or any other cliché of strong, silent masculinity. But that doesn’t have to be the only wig in your box, as it were. Have a ball playing whatever role floats your boat, but remember that in any intimate relationship you have to be emotionally vulnerable if you want any of the good stuffbeing seen and loved for all of your parts, not just the ones that would work to impress a stranger in a bar. Whatever type of relationship you’re looking for right now, dare to expect more from your partner by showing them more of yourself.
The next six months will begin a brand new chapter in your romantic life. If you’re partnered, expect some revelations and changes in that partnership that will help you both uncover unspoken assumptions and feelings. If you’re looking for a new connection, prepare to be totally surprised by what you find. Just remember that learning new dance steps can make you feel a little uncoordinated at first, but practice will make perfect!
It’s easy for you to open your heart to just about anyone if they tell you a sad story or even just sigh loudly in your presence. This month, remember that you don’t have to take on everyone else’s troubles, even if it does give you a nice warm thrill to help out. Find those warm thrills by giving a little extra energy to the people who really matter, and by saving some for yourself at the end of the day.
Caitlyn Jenner is set to receive an award for her alleged support of Israel alongside former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Jenner will be appearing at the Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala in March, where she will be given the Champion of Israel and LGBTQ Rights Award from the World Values Network.
In a press release, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach describes the former reality star and gold medalist as a “great friend of the Jewish people and Israel.” Boteach says Jenner “is uniquely suited to highlight Israel’s incredible record on human rights and LGBTQ rights,” although the statement does not elaborate on its reasoning for those claims.
Jenner, who came out as transgender in a 2015 interview with Diane Sawyer, will appear at the gala alongside Spicer, who resigned as press secretary in July 2017. He is also scheduled to be honored during the event.
During his brief stint as a spokesman for the Oval Office, Spicer routinely courted controversy for his handling of issues affecting the Jewish people. When President Trump omitted Jews from a statement recognizing International Holocaust Remembrance Day, he referred to the Commander-in-Chief’s critics as “pathetic.”
Of course, Hitler did use chemical weaponson the millions of Jews killed in the Holocaust.
The transgender Republican has frequently been criticized for her proximity to the current administration. Jenner was an early backer of Trump’s campaign for the presidency, claiming during an episode of her since-cancelled reality show I Am Cait that he would be “would be very good for women’s issues” if elected.
But the six-year-old gala is backed by a Trump supporter: Sheldon G. Adelson. Adelson is a business magnate and influential donor to the Republican party. The casino billionaire is widely credited with the president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move universally condemned by international human rights groups.
Israel is often criticized by the left for what detractors have referred to as “pinkwashing,” using its support for the queer and trans community to deflect from criticism of alleged human rights abuses in the ongoing Palestinian conflict. The country presents itself, critics say, as “progressive” on LGBTQ equality and its Arab neighbors as “backward” as a propaganda tool.
In his statement announcing Jenner’s award, Boteach calls the Middle East “a cesspit of human rights abuses, especially toward LGBTQ citizens who are routinely murdered, beheaded, and even hung from cranes.”