I always come off the Grammys doing a lot of Googling. I like to spend the morning after the awards looking up winners I’ve never heard of, and then, in a very consumerist fashion, deciding if they should have received the award or not. It’s a fun and low stakes way to discover new music — except when it’s not. I went to bed on Sunday night without knowing who had won the Big Four: the music industry’s pet name for the awards for Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and New Artist of the Year. That’s fine — I knew how those would go. I placed my bets and went to bed. 

I woke up Monday morning to the news that Beyoncé, after a legendary 23 years in the music industry, has finally broken the record for the highest number of Grammys awards in the award ceremony’s history. This made sense, as she has been the favorite to win in every category she is nominated in, ever since her very first nomination in 2001 for “Say my Name” with Destiny’s Child. What didn’t make sense, however, was that she did not win the Big Four award she was favored to win: Album of the Year. The recording academy, it seems, felt that the award was better suited for Harry Styles, who won for his album “Harry’s House.” 

This isn’t the first time Beyoncé has been snubbed for the Album of the Year award. She famously lost to Adele in 2017, whose acceptance speech acknowledged the fact that it really should have been Beyoncé up on that stage. This year, actually, was the fourth time that she has been nominated for album of the year and lost. And this year, it made the least sense. It’s widely agreed that “Renaissance” was a career defining album, and the best of 2022. It broke streaming records, was every major publication’s album of the year, and, to be quite honest, has been a cultural reset in the world of music. Beyoncé has always had an incredible influence on the music industry — this was the year when it would officially be confirmed. Losing to Harry, therefore, felt kind of weird, especially in a category with several other cultural resets: Bad Bunny, ABBA — who made a legendary comeback, Kendrick Lamar and Adele, again. 

This isn’t an indictment of Harry Styles’ album. I famously served time in the One Direction fandom, and respect his hard work to create a successful solo career post-boy band. His album was also very good, and definitely deserved the nomination. His speech after receiving the Grammy, however, explains my point perfectly: “Things like this don’t happen to people like me.” The ambiguity of the statement — which people are still trying to decode on Twitter — doesn’t cancel the fact that it’s made in poor taste. Harry Styles is a young, white man — a demographic that the recording academy has been historically kind to — who, for the umpteenth time, has taken an award that was more deserved by someone else.The recording academy is famous for these kinds of decisions, so much so that some publications keep a running list. From this perspective, it feels almost sinister to award Beyoncé all the Grammys surrounding her album, but to snub her for the award that she has proven, over and over, that she deserves. Is the bar just higher for Black women? Even if that Black woman is Beyoncé?

… Anyways, no one on the planet has as many Grammys as Beyoncé. And it’s going to stay like that for a very long time.

AWUOR ONGURU is a junior in Berkeley college, majoring in English and French. Her column, “Wild West,” runs once a month. Contact her at awuor.onguru@yale.edu.

Awuor Onguru edits the Opinion Desk. She is a Sophomore in Berkeley College, majoring in English and History.