Beyoncé is now the most decorated artist in Grammys history with 32 wins. Which, of course, is a major achievement and she graciously acknowledged those who have supported her and guided her and collaborated with her, both onstage and in a message posted to Instagram:
Beyoncé, as we know, doesn’t say much outside of her art, so that, for her, by her standards, is basically a 10,000 word essay.
Breaking the Grammys record should be a celebration, full stop. Should be. And yet. That’s not where we are right now. Because of those 32 Grammy wins, only one Grammy is in what’s considered a major category. Beyoncé, the greatest artist of her generation, has never won Album of the Year.
And let me just point out the obvious: she was the artist that every other artist wants to see. She was the artist who was namechecked constantly last night during the show. Trevor Noah mentioned her every few minutes, after almost every commercial break, until she arrived.
me every 5 seconds pic.twitter.com/jR9aNrjkQ1— BeyoncÃ© Press. | Fan Account (@beyoncepress) February 6, 2023
Beyoncé is the artist that so many artists get up on stage to pay tribute to. Lizzo for example who, like us, was waiting to see Beyoncé dedicated the last part of her acceptance speech to the impact that Beyoncé has had on her life and her work:
â€œYou changed my lifeâ€ â€” Lizzo on BeyoncÃ© #GRAMMYs pic.twitter.com/YzEqliG0fo— BEY-ZðŸâ¬¢â¬¡ Â· fan account (@beyzhive) February 6, 2023
So when we’re talking about the Grammys, an institution that celebrates music and musicians, and the artist who is THIS celebrated by other musicians continues to be shut of out of what the Grammys themselves consider the “biggest award”, what does that say about the institution?
Almost everyone going home with a trophy last night considers Beyoncé to be in a class of her own. My point here is that I’m not just coming at this as a stan. It’s about the Grammys and their legacy. If we’re looking back on this 50 years from now, 100 years from now, with all that Beyoncé has already produced, multiple masterpieces, an artist who always shifts the culture, who brings together past, present, and future, who is widely acknowledged, not by fans but by those are also making music, and music videos, and films, in other words by other musical storytellers, and the Grammys hold up their report card, their list of winners of their most important award… and Beyoncé’s name is missing…
It's a stain on their reputation, on their own relevance. And it’s embarrassing – for THEM. What’s even more embarrassing is that, well, it probably wasn’t a surprise for a lot of people, least of all Beyoncé. She knows what the Recording Academy is all about. This is why she didn’t bother rushing to get there on time or doing them a favour by performing. They were lucky she even showed up at all. Because as I said last week in my post about Beyoncé and whether or not she would attend, they have done her dirty so many times, she’s smart enough to know that it would happen again. And it’s also why Ben Winston, the show’s producer, kept saying in interviews ahead of the Grammys that his job is only the broadcast, that he has no control over who wins or doesn’t win.
So, sure, he’s not to blame for the Queen’s shutout. But… you know what you can blame him for?
Of all the people in that room, James Corden presenting Beyoncé with what ended up being her only televised award? I will never understand that decision.
As for Harry Styles …
Harry’s House is a good album. I enjoy it very much! And Harry himself is not problematic. No hate for Harry but the issue with this album is that the gravitas isn’t there. Harry’s House is not the kind of album that will resonate for decades, that can transport and transform. Renaissance is a magnum opus of dance music that both pays tribute to the healing power of dance history, revels in the resilience of dance present, and opens up space for the joy of a dance future. It works intimately and it works collectively. It may be unfair to compare the two since Beyoncé is an artist who’s been in her prime for almost two decades while Harry is just entering his.
But here’s the thing – if you’re going to make a case for it, then his performance last night fell short. Even the most hardcore Harry Styles fan, if they’re being honest, will agree that last night, on that stage, he was flat. Some are saying that it could be tour exhaustion, and no doubt, given the schedule he’s maintained over the last year, performing so many nights for so many people, fatigue is expected. Still, it meant that on a night when he took the stage at the Grammys in support of the album that would go on to win Album of the Year, as Pitchfork said in their review, his performance “won’t be the thing that convinces the skeptics”. And “until his music lives up to his multi-dimensional persona, he remains exactly the type of artist the Grammys like to celebrate—to a fault”.
And that fault is the glaring omission of Album of the Year honours for a woman who was in the audience, and who was pregnant with twins the last time she performed at the Grammys, when she at one point leaned back on a chair dipped well behind her, while wearing a gigantic headpiece, maintaining perfect voice control, and delivering a visual feast for almost ten minutes.
Maybe that’s the difference here. Never mind levels, Beyoncé’s playing a game that no one else can even attempt to play.