Gender Politics, Climate Change Dominate at American Music Awards

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 24: Taylor Swift (C) performs onstage during the 2019 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 24, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcp)
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcp

Political and cultural topics – from gender politics to climate change – dominated the 2019 American Music Awards performances on Sunday.

Activist artists did more than promote their political agendas in grandiose speeches, as is usually custom, during Sunday night’s AMAs at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, as Newsbusters notes. Many opted to advance their causes in more subtle ways – through set design, costumes, and lyrics.

Kesha performed “Raising Hell” alongside reality TV star Big Freedia, a gay man who is “gender-nonconforming.” The “TiK ToK” singer opened the performance by telling the audience, “Welcome to our Sunday Service” – a direct reference to Kanye West’s gospel-filled church services, which have resulted in thousands of people accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior. A rainbow church set served as a backdrop for the performance.

Pop star Camila Cabello, who won Collaboration of the Year for “Señorita” with singer Shawn Mendes, performed her song “Living Proof,” which featured male dancers wearing lace dresses.

Taylor Swift, who highlighted her newfound devotion to “social justice” in her latest album Lover and won six awards including Artist of the Decade, opened her performance with the song “The Man,” which laments gender double standards. 

I’m so sick of running as fast as I can
Wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man
And I’m so sick of them coming at me again
‘Cause if I was a man, then I’d be the man

Pop sensation Billie Eilish – the recipient of the New Artist of the Year award – performed “All the Good Girls Go to Hell” and wore a black shirt that featured the words “No Music On a Dead Planet” in red sequins and featured flames emblazoned beneath, a reference to global warming.

It is hardly the first time the 17-year-old pop star has spoken out about the climate change “crisis.”

“Our Earth is warming up and our oceans are rising,” Eilish said in a video in September. “Extreme weather is wrecking millions of lives.”

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