Welcome to the Grammys—where art meets competition, and the Recording Academy continues to make decisions that leave us scratching our heads. After an evening of celebrating Black artists, the Recording Academy shocked us all when they awarded Harry Styles with Album of the Year for his album Harry’s House, instead of Beyoncé’s Renaissance.
In this blog post, we’ll be taking a look at the controversy surrounding the Album of the Year award at the 2023 Grammys, and why this decision speaks volumes about the Recording Academy’s attitude towards Black women.
First, let’s start by giving credit where it’s due. Harry Styles is a very talented artist, and his album Harry’s House was a great piece of work. But the fact remains that Renaissance was the Album of the Year—and it didn’t win.
The decision to award Harry Styles with the Album of the Year award over Beyoncé speaks volumes about the Recording Academy’s attitude towards Black women. While Beyoncé has won 32 Grammys in total, only one of those wins has come in one of the major four categories. This is despite the fact that her albums are consistently nominated for Album of the Year, and her impact on the entertainment industry is immeasurable.
It’s no wonder that some voters have been critical of the Recording Academy’s decisions. According to a recent Variety article, one voter—a music business veteran in his 70s—said that “with Beyoncé, the fact that every time she does something new, it’s a big event and everyone’s supposed to quake in their shoes—it’s a little too portentous.” In other words, they’re punishing her for being too successful.
It’s a frustrating and all-too-familiar double standard for Black women. We’re criticized when we don’t do enough, but also aren’t allowed to be too successful. So if we can’t win, we should just do whatever we want and let the haters sit around feeling mad about how badass we are.
The 2023 Grammys were a night of celebration for Black artists, but the Recording Academy’s decision to award Harry Styles with Album of the Year over Beyoncé’s Renaissance was a reminder that there’s still a long way to go when it comes to recognizing and rewarding Black women. We need to keep pushing for change, and keep demanding that our voices are heard.