The pop star sang a string of tunes Feb. 10 in celebration of the iconic Detroit-based label’s songs, including “Please Mr. Postman,” “My Girl,” “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” and “Money (That’s What I Want).”
But despite being joined on stage by Smokey Robinson, Alicia Keys and her fellow “World of Dance” judge Ne-Yo, Lopez’s performance was a dud for many people watching at home, who previously expressed irritation with a non-Black performer headlining the tribute. Some especially took issue with the Recording Academy, which is responsible for producing the show, not using the many Black women vocalists in the industry to headline the tribute.
“This is disrespectful to my entire city. @RecordingAcad y’all couldn’t find BLACK women to do this MOTOWN tribute?!”
“They really got JLo lip syncing Motown’s finest songs like there’s not 1000 black women with R&B vocals ready for this moment #GRAMMMYs.”
“Your Motown ‘tribute’ should have had BLACK WOMEN in it.”
“Grammy failed on the Motown tribute #GRAMMYs.”
“I think #JenniferLopez is an amazing performer; however, I don’t believe she was the right fit to headline the Grammy’s Motown tribute…… 🤔 #Grammy2019.”
In response to the criticism, Motown tweeted and then deleted a statement in defense of Lopez.
“Regardless of feelings and opinions about the #Grammys tribute performance, can we take a minute to celebrate the history and the power of #Motown, its artists and its music? #MotownDidItFirst,” the post read.
Additionally, Lopez discussed her involvement with the show, noting Grammy producers and Motown’s founder Berry Gordy were “thrilled” with her doing the show.
“The thing about music is that it inspires all. Any type of music can inspire any type of artist,” Lopez told Entertainment Tonight on Sunday, noting she grew up listening to Motown songs with her mom. “You can’t tell people what to love. You can’t tell people what they can and can’t do, what they should sing or not sing. You gotta do what’s in your heart.
“They know how much I have been influenced by that music and so it was a natural fit for them,” she added of Gordy and company. “But for some people, [it wasn’t], and that’s OK. I’m just very humbled and honored to be able to have sung those songs.”
The star also got some fervent support from Robinson, who told Variety ahead of the Grammys, “I don’t think anyone who is intelligent is upset. I think anyone who is upset is stupid.”
“Motown was music for everybody. Everybody,” he said, noting the pop star has enough credibility to do the set because she grew up in the Bronx. “Who’s stupid enough to protest Jennifer Lopez doing anything for Motown?”
On Tuesday, Feb. 12, the Recording Academy will put on a 60th-anniversary celebration for Motown called “Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration.” Diana Ross, who performed at Sunday’s show, Chloe x Halle, Stevie Wonder and Boyz II Men are among those slated to perform.
After stupid trolls bashed her & spewed their hate all last week. @JLo still performed the #Motown tribute tonight. She took that stage, served spectacular vocals, dancing, costumes, and SOUL! She stole the show. SO PROUD OF HER! #Grammys #ProudJLover😍https://t.co/zqwl4RDLpS
— ✨Brandon Byrd✨ (@brandonbyrd87) February 11, 2019