Twitter Reacts To J.Lo's Motown Tribute

Before she even took the stage to at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, 2019, Jennifer Lopez has already faced criticism for agreeing to perform a tribute to celebrate Motown's 60th anniversary. Choosing a Hispanic singer to headline a tribute honoring an iconic black label that featured predominantly black artists raised some eyebrows. Critics thought Lopez's musical style didn't vibe with the Motown image, but despite the backlash, the performance went forward as planned. Lopez was joined on stage by Motown legend Smokey Robinson and Ne-Yo and performed some of the label's biggest hits, including "Dancing in the Street," "Mr. Postman," and "Do You Love Me?" 

Let's just hope Lopez didn't check her phone backstage. "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, Buzzfeed News' Sylvia Obell tweeted. That's just the tip of the iceberg, friends. As the Titanic sunk and the band played on, Twitter reactions to J.Lo's Motown tribute didn't offer many lifeboats.

J. Lo didn't check her calendar

Black History Month didn't get off to the best start in 2019. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam claimed that wasn't him in blackface in his yearbook photo because he remembered another time he wore blackface. Yes, that was a thing that happened. He even described putting on shoe polish. A few days later, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring admitted to wearing blackface. Oh, and actor Liam Neeson openly discussed the time he wanted to kill a random "black b*stard." But hey, at least we could have a black artist celebrate a legendary black record label during Black History Month, right? 

Wrong. In the words of Atlanta preacher Jared Sawyer, Jr: "J. Lo better not salsa her way to the cookout because she is uninvited for that terrible performance. How do you do a Motown tribute without an ALL BLACK cast of artists?! And it's Black History Month too," he tweeted.

The Root also had questions, tweeting: "Mary J. Blige in this dancery? Kelly Rowland ain't want to bump like this? Ciara didn't want to level up on stage? HOW did we get to the point where someone thought a J Lo Motown tribute was ok during #BlackHistoryMonth? Rosa didn't sit for this. The magazine said the Grammy Awards allowed Lopez to "gentrify the genre right in front of Berry Gordy."

Maybe it was a dance tribute?

When you think Motown, you think The Supremes. You think Gladys Knight & the Pips. You think powerful voices and a mic. That's all Motown needed. What you don't think about is elaborate choreography and an army of backup dancers. Twitter took note. 

"J Lo dancing, all those dancers and theatrics that's not MOTOWN. I don't care what anyone says. The Grammys could've found a better artist(s) to do that tribute," former NFL tight end-turned Undisputed co-host Shannon Sharpe tweeted. User @KnickGray added, "Not one moment of that Motown tribute felt like Motown. Not a single moment. That felt like a J-Lo a** celebration. No no NO."

Bevy Smith, host of SiriusXM's Bevelations, offered some historical insight about Lopez's dance-driven performance. "The irony of the very sexy J.Lo Motown revue is that Berry Gordy had the women of Motown tame their sexy so as to not fall into the Jezebel, highly sexed trope which White America places black women in!" she tweeted. "So they could have NEVER given a performance like that, ladies at all times!"

Jennifer Lopez didn't lip-sync, did she?

Diana Ross. Michael Jackson. Stevie Wonder. Marvin Gaye. Al Green. The Four Tops. We could go on, but you get the point. Motown's roster was stocked with voices that defined a generation and set the standard for decades to come. Jennifer Lopez, on the other hand, isn't known for her vocal range. This led many to believe the "If You Had My Love" singer lip-synced her performance at the 2019 Grammys.

"My mama ain't wake me up for school singing 'Hello, Detroit' EVERY morning for J. Lo to star in the most expensive episode of Lip Sync Battle of all time, tweeted @xoxosoleil_. "If you gotta lip sync for a MOTOWN tribute, I don't want it," added @ShayLanise. "J.Lo being chosen was a tone deaf move."

Don't tell that to fellow performer Ne-Yo. "Much love to my girl @jlo for smashing the @Motown tribute Motown music is BLACK EXCELLENCE," he tweeted. "But it touched countless hearts. Motown music is FOR EVERYBODY. @smokeyrobinson said that, and he was actually there! It was an honor..."

Lopez defends her decision

After her performance, a visibibly emotional Jennifer Lopez spoke with Entertainment Tonight's Kevin Frazier and pushed back on critics who said she was the wrong person for the job. "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," she said, fighting back tears. "You gotta do what's in your heart."

Jacque Reid, co-host of NBC's New York Live, responded to a clip of the interview: "Emotional?? Seriously?? Look, I really like & admire JLo but how in the hell does she get to play victim here? No ma'am," she tweeted. "That Motown 'tribute' was just wrong. She never should have been invited to do it & she should have declined when they asked."

However, rapper AdELA echoed Lopez's belief that music should bring people together and transcend race. "If you are mad that a Hispanic woman is paying tribute to black music, you are what's wrong with the world," she tweeted. "Music is supposed to bring us together, not divide. There's no color in music. You don't listen to it with your eyes! @JLo killed it last night! MOTOWN WAS 4 EVERYBODY."

At least Tyler Perry was a fan, if that helps

Filmmaker Tyler Perry, who recently said goodbye to his most famous character, Madea, loved Jennifer Lopez's performance. He didn't expect to love it, but not for the reasons you might think.

"I have to say I was on the fence about @JLo doing the Motown tribute, not bc she isn't black but because those are hard songs to take on," Perry tweeted. "Well, she made me a believer! SHE KILLED IT!! I was so blown away. I'm so proud of her!! Music knows no color when it inspires. AWESOME JOB!!"

We're unsure if Perry's fence-riding was a knock on Lopez's vocal skills or not, but it didn't seem to bother J.Lo., who responded with a "Thank you so much."

Smokey Robinson wants you to 'stop hating'

Motown legend Smokey Robinson defended Jennifer Lopez before her performance and even joined her on stage during it. Two days after the Grammys, Robinson had seen and heard enough from the haters. In a lengthy social media post, the "Cruisin'" singer ripped everyone and anyone who protested Lopez because she wasn't black. And if anybody's words carry weight, it's the man who was with Motown the day it was born.

"Attention, all those of you who protested a wonderful, super talented, world renowned, super star like Jennifer Lopez, showing her love and support for Motown music, here's some food for thought: On the very first day of Motown, Berry Gordy told the five of us who were present, 'I'm gonna start my own record company, and we're gonna make music for everybody and always be sure to make quality music that the world can enjoy,'" Robinson wrote. "And through the Grace of God and hard work and determination, we accomplished that. Kids of all races, worldwide, grew up loving the music of Motown, imitating our acts. Pretending to be Diana Ross, the Temptations, Michael Jackson and son on." 

Robinson said those who call Motown "music for Black people" are "trying to set us back a hundred years." Admonishing people to "stop hating," he said the critics should "get your perspective together and think about the hate you're spreading."