The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards saw passionate speeches on trans rights and workplace equality, big wins for HBO and Amazon—and some of the strangest and outright awkward music selections for presenters and winners.
Aside from the heavy rotation of disco classics throughout the show, there were several moments where the music just didn’t quite match what was happening onstage.
1) During her acceptance speech for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Alex Borstein referenced her grandmother, who narrowly avoided being murdered in the Holocaust because she boldly stepped out of the line of prisoners being shot. What better song to follow a Holocaust survivor story than Lizzo’s “Good as Hell”? Granted, the song was more for welcoming presenters Nick Cannon and Jeong to the stage, but still cringeworthy.
2) Phoebe Waller-Bridge and her Amazon hit Fleabag dominated the night with four wins. When Waller-Bridge won for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series, someone at Fox thought it wise to play “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus. Again, the category was lead actress in a comedy series. It also was interpreted by some as a dig at Waller-Bridge for spoiling Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s chance to break a record for Emmy wins.
3) Now we come to the ridiculousness that was Chernobyl—not the series or the event itself, but, you guessed it, the music choices for its wins. As Craig Mazin made his way to the stage to claim his Emmy for outstanding writing for a limited series, Florence and The Machine cheered him on with “Shake It Out.” Again, one could interpret the song choice as an inside reference to Mazin’s failed bid to replace the current leadership of the Writers Guild of America West. (Disclosure: Fast Company‘s editorial employees are members of WGA East.)
4) And when Chernobyl won for outstanding limited series, Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” was, apparently, the right track for the moment. Yeah, winning must feel good, but what about the cataclysmic nuclear disaster that win was based off of? Not so good.