In a moment I’ll introduce you to Anohni, who was nominated for an Oscar this year in the category of Best Original Song, but first I want to talk a little about Kesha, Grimes and Sam Smith.
You may have heard about Kesha’s much-publicized battle to get out of her recording agreement. She claims that Dr. Luke, the producer to whose company, Kemosabe Records, she is signed, drugged and sexually assaulted her on several occasions. As a courtroom proceeding about those allegations had not yet been tried, a New York Supreme Court justice denied Kesha’s motion for a preliminary inunction extraditing her from recording for Kemosabe.
This led to the proliferation of the hashtag #FreeKesha. A group of fans protested outside Sony Music’s headquarters, demanding that the music corporation free Kesha. Kesha isn’t signed to Sony Music, but no matter. Sony should cease distribution of Kemosabe Records, which would leave Kesha still signed to Kemosabe, but hey – it was a nice day for a good protest, and what else is there in the world to complain about? Ongoing wars? Poisoned public water supplies? Human rights violations? More important to get a pop star out of her recording agreement. #Priorities
Many public figures offered support to Kesha, among them Lady Gaga, Lily Allen, Adele, Janelle Monáe, Fiona Apple, Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, Tegan and Sara, HAIM, Alessia Cara, Lorde, Wale, Best Coast, George Takei, Anne Hathaway, Reese Witherspoon, Lena Dunham, Mariska Hargitay, Troye Sivan, Halsey, Iggy Azalea, Sara Bareilles, JoJo, Adam Lambert, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Margaret Cho, Zedd, and Jack Antonoff. Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to Kesha to help with her financial needs.
Also supporting Kesha is Claire Elise Boucher, the Canadian singer-songwriter who records under the name Grimes. In response to a question from a Time Out reporter about Kesha’s legal situation, Grimes, whose “Kill v. Maim” is #3 this week in Glenn’s Ten, said the following about recording agreements: “You shouldn’t be allowed to sign a human being, regardless of what the allegations are or what anyone said or did. It’s basically like slavery.” Yes, making millions of dollars doing your dream job is basically the same as being forcibly taken from your home and forced to do a job you don’t want to do for no pay, much like Spaghetti Carbonara is basically the same thing as a nuclear missile, which is to say, both exist. (Grimes’ two most recent albums were released by the 4AD label, with whom, I assume, she is signed to a recording agreement.)
If Kesha’s allegations against Dr. Luke are true, then I hope at the very least she is let out of her agreement with Kemosabe, as being forced to aid your rapist make money is unconscionable, and that is where the slavery comparison applies.
British singer-songwriter Sam Smith may or may not know what slavery is, but he exhibited a lack of grasp on history last weekend at the Academy Awards. As he couldn’t pronounce Anohni or The Weeknd, Common announced as the winner of the Best Original Song award the easiest name to remember and pronounce, Sam Smith.
In his acceptance speech, Smith claimed to be the first openly gay person to win an Oscar, which is true, if you don’t count Dustin Lance Black, Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, John Schlesinger, Stephen Sondheim, Bill Condon, Alan Ball, Scott Rudin, Pedro Almodovar and the other openly gay people who have won. Maybe Smith meant to say he’s the first openly gay person to win an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2016. He says he got his information from actor Sir Ian McKellen via an interview Smith read, which is true, if you leave out the part where McKellen refers to no openly gay winners in the Acting categories.
It was pointed out to Smith that he is not the first openly gay person to win an Oscar, to which he responded “I think I’m the second openly gay person to win it,” which is true, if you don’t count Dustin Lance Black, Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, John Schlesinger, Stephen Sondheim, Bill Condon, Alan Ball, Scott Rudin and the other openly gay people who have won less one. In the real world, Smith is not even the first openly gay person in the category of Best Original Song. When told that openly gay Howard Ashman won that category twice, Smith replied “I should know him. We should date.” Ashman died of AIDS-related complications in 1991, the year for which his title song from Beauty and the Beast won, but sure, Sam, date him. You’ll be the first openly necrophiliac to win an Oscar. #Trailblazer. I do agree with one thing Smith said. He should know of Ashman.
Which brings us to Anohni. Along with her collaborator, J. Ralph, Anohni was nominated for Best Original Song for “Manta Ray” from the film Racing Extinction. Unlike Sam Smith, The Weeknd and Lady Gaga, Anohni, a transsexual woman, was not invited to perform her nominated song at the Oscar ceremony. In a year in which The Academy was taken to task for a lack of diversity among the nominees, the producers felt it was more important for the president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to give a speech on the show about the importance of diversity in Hollywood than it was to allow only the second transgender person to be nominated for an Oscar to perform (not a Sam Smith second person, but truly the second). Besides, The Danish Girl received nominations, including one for Best Actor for Eddie Redmayne as the titular character Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of gender correction surgery, and who better to represent trans women at the Oscars than a heterosexual cisgender man? Also, the award show needed time for clueless Clueless actress Stacey Dash insult the .04% of viewers who know who she is. #Priorities
Here’s your chance to get to know Anohni, who previously recorded under the name Antony. Her distinctive voice will grab you and her songs will move you. Check out twenty of her best, including guest appearances on other artists’ tracks:
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Oof! I would have watched the Oscars if Anohni was performing.
She really should have been there, because she was nominated and because she’s a great singer.