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Let me make this super-duper uber-clear: It does not matter that Beyoncé lost the album of the year Grammy in 2023, as well as in 2017, 2015 and 2010.
Of course Renaissance was the best album of the last year and most critics deemed it such. But when it comes to the Grammys, and the majority of its voters, artists like Beyoncé won’t ever win and that’s fine.
Because at the end of the day Beyoncé is Beyoncé — a superstar singer and dancer who has evolved with each album she has released. She has done the unthinkable. She has defeated the odds. She has broken the Internet. She has rewritten history. She has changed the game.
The reason albums come out on Fridays instead of Tuesdays? Beyoncé did that. Artists deciding to surprise drop music and not pre-announce releases? Beyoncé again. She’s one of the most impressive visual artists but was still able to launch a groundbreaking and bold album without accompanying music videos or films.
I knew Queen Bey had no chance of winning album of the year for Renaissance — after years of covering the Grammy Awards and predicting winners, it was clear she was going to lose. The voters don’t appreciate the kind of art Beyoncé presents. Instead, they are embarrassingly traditional — you’ll get golden points for strumming a guitar or banging on the drums, but for the epic runs Beyoncé sings on “Plastic Off the Sofa”? Nothing. For the crafty lyricism on “Heated”? Nothing. For the complexities and intricacies of “Church Girl,” a song you can shake your ass to and praise the Lord above, at the same time — not a damn thing.
That’s just it — people like Beyoncé and all of hip-hop, mainly Black and Brown folks — don’t get technical points when it comes to Grammy votes. The voters don’t understand the lyrical detail. They don’t understand the cadences. They miss the epic metaphors. They find the inventive beats noisy and disruptive and think the profound singing is loud and obnoxious.
And here’s the thing — they probably never will understand the music.
It’s why you’ll see Bruno Mars — an extremely talented singer, songwriter, producer, guitarist and drummer — be the closest thing to a R&B star win album, song and record of the year in the same year. It’s why Beck, a performer, multi-instrumentalist, engineer and producer, will succeed over Beyoncé. It’s why U2 will prevail over Kanye West and Mariah Carey’s still-fire comeback album The Emancipation of Mimi. It’s why Arcade Fire will beat out Eminem, and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will get more votes than Lil Wayne. It’s why Bad Bunny could literally dominate the entire world and be reduced to three Grammy nominations, only to win a single award in a Latin music category.
The Grammys have made some changes to its voting body — even requiring older voters to show they have recent credits in music to keep their membership. They’ve added 2,000 new members last year but that doesn’t mean a thing when 11,000 people have a say. Changes were made, but a major overhaul is necessary to correct the voting culture of the awards show.
Maybe that will happen. It probably won’t. And we don’t care — because winning a Grammy is cute, but it’s not for the culture.
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