Boygenius wrapped up quite a week at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 4, with the indie supergroup winning three awards mere days after announcing the band would soon be entering a hiatus. The trio — Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker — were all smiles at the ceremony, though Bridgers had some pointed words for the former head of the Grammy organization backstage.
“I have something to say about women,” Bridgers said after the ceremony, during which women won all four of the Grammys’ general field categories. “The ex-president of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, said that if women want to be nominated in the Grammys, that they should ‘step up.’ He’s also been accused of sexual violence. So to him I’d like to say: I know you’re not dead yet, but when you are, I hope you rot in piss.”
For nearly two decades, the Recording Academy was overseen by Neil Portnow, who attracted fierce criticism in 2018 when, after the Grammys had wrapped a show filled with overwhelmingly male presenters and winners, he quipped that women artists needed to “step up” to gain more exposure at the awards. He was replaced in the top spot the next year by Deborah Dugan, whose brief tenure ended when she was fired by the organization a mere ten days before the 2020 Grammys.
After months of back-and-forth recriminations, Dugan and the Recording Academy eventually reached a settlement for nearly $6 million dollars in 2021, as Q reported last week. But during the aftermath of Dugan’s firing, she claimed that Portnow had been accused of sexual assault while heading the organization. Portnow denied the claims, calling them "ludicrous and untrue."
Bridgers’ bandmates backed her up, with Baker adding “that’s rock and roll!” immediately after Bridgers’ bombshell.
The trio also discussed plans to take a hiatus, which they semi-cryptically announced at an intimate show in Los Angeles days earlier. (All three had established solo careers before coming together to form Boygenius in 2018, and the trio exploded in popularity with the release of full-length debut The Record last year.) Dacus noted that the group was never intended to be a full-time concern, saying: “That’s why we’ve been like showing up and working so hard. We knew we didn’t have to sustain it… this was our chance.”
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In happier news, earlier in the night Boygenius picked up three Grammys in quick succession at the afternoon pre-telecast Grammy ceremony, winning for Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, and Best Alternative Music Performance. (Bridgers also won the very first Grammy of the afternoon, for her collaboration with SZA, “Ghost in the Machine.”)
"We were all delusional enough as kids to think this might happen to us one day,” Dacus said from the Nokia Theater stage. “Phoebe would sing at Guitar Center hoping she would get discovered. Julien was always in bands as a kid and wanted to play at sold-out stadiums. And I would practice writing an acceptance speech, thanking all the people who were nice to me, like my bus driver and the guy who held the door at church.
"I feel kind of like a kid, because that was the last time something like this felt possible. Thank you to our band. Thank you to everyone that contributed to The Record.”