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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, March 3, 2024

Why Beyoncé deserved the Grammy, part 2

Beyoncé backstage at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015.

Nearly three years ago, the Daily published an op-ed detailing the racism within the music industry and how it robbed Beyoncé of winning Album of the Year at the Grammys in 2017. Flash forward to this year’s ceremony and here we are again. While Beyoncé set historic records at this year’s ceremony, she was snubbed of the night’s biggest honors once again.

The Grammys always have their ups and downs. Some artists are given their first or long-overdue honors, while others are continuously snubbed by the Recording Academy ceremony after ceremony (see Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg). From first-time winners Samara Joy and Muni Long, to Harry Styles saying “this doesn't happen to people like me very often” after winning Album of the Year for “Harry’s House” (2022), this year’s Grammys were filled with evident highs and lows.

Lizzo became the first Black woman to win Record of the Year since Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” in 1994 with her 2022 hit “About Damn Time.” Beyoncé broke the all-time record for Grammy Award wins (32) with her four wins at this ceremony. Her 2022 album “RENAISSANCE” and three of its tracks (“BREAK MY SOUL,” “CUFF IT,” and “PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA”) won an award each. 

Song of the Year was scooped up by veteran singer/songwriter Bonnie Raitt for “Just Like That” (2022), to much surprise from audience members and watchers online. Adele earned the Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance for “Easy On Me,” the lead single off her Album of the Year-nominated “30” (2021). The 65th Annual Grammy Awards mark the first time in 13 years that Adele lost a Grammy Award she was nominated for (an incredible feat).

Sam Smith and Kim Petras made history as well. They became the first non-binary and transgender recipients, respectively, of Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their No. 1 hit “Unholy” (2022). This marks Smith’s first award since they took home Best New Artist, Record and Song of the Year at the 2015 ceremony. Viola Davis reached EGOT status, earning her first Grammy award for Best Audio Book, Narration & Storytelling Recording for her memoir “Finding Me” (2022). Davis becomes the 18th person in history to achieve this feat.

Just like in 2017, Beyoncé lost each of her nominations for Album, Song and Record of the Year. “RENAISSANCE” becomes Beyoncé’s fourth nomination for Album of the Year to lose. “I Am… Sasha Fierce” (2008) lost to Taylor Swift’s “Fearless” (2008), “Beyoncé” (2013) lost to Beck’s “Morning Phase” (2014) and “Lemonade” (2016) lost to Adele’s “25” (2015).

“Harry’s House” captured the award for Album of the Year, much to the internet’s dismay. Beyoncé has been unfairly snubbed of top honors by white artists over and over again, but a new topic was added to the discourse when many complained Styles co-opted the queer community, while Beyoncé crafted her body of work with an appreciation for queer culture. 

 “Grammys chose Queer appropriation over Queer Appreciation,” one Twitter user wrote. “‘This doesn’t happen to people like me very often’ says the white man who uses queer aesthetics to sell records and won album of the year over a Black woman,” another wrote. While “RENAISSANCE” should have been Beyoncé’s long overdue honor for this category, some of the criticism spewed toward Styles is unfair. When society begins to force artists to reveal their sexuality to validate their connection to queerness, people lose autonomy over their own identities. 

Styles told Rolling Stone last year, “I think everyone, including myself, has your own journey with figuring out sexuality and getting more comfortable with it.” Beyoncé deserved the Grammy hand down, but before we crucify Styles for his proximity to queerness, let’s remember everyone should have autonomy over their own identities and what they choose to share with the public, as oftentimes queer artists weren’t afforded that luxury throughout history. It’s also important to note that, historically, queer and transgender people of color have had to work much harder to earn much less recognition than Styles.

With that context out of the way, Beyoncé deserved to win Album of the Year. Not only was she able to craft a sonically and conceptually solid body of work, but she also did so with much inspiration from the Black queer community. Her Uncle Johnny, who she thanked in her acceptance speech for Best Dance/Electronic Album, died of an AIDS complication, and she acknowledged that he introduced her to much of the music that inspired “RENAISSANCE.” Her album was the epitome of cultural appreciation, and without a doubt, “RENAISSANCE” had the heart and soul of an Album of the Year-winning project.