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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Amy Francombe

The problem with Harry Styles’ car-crash Album of the Year Grammy acceptance speech

The Grammys is the music industry’s Big Night Out, with many considering the Gramophone trophy the peak accolade in an artist’s career.

However one category is without a doubt the most prestigious of them all. The Album of the Year honours “artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales, chart position, or critical reception,” and has been presented annually since the ceremony’s inception in 1959. In the 65 shows since, artists such as Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder and Taylor Swift have each won the coveted award three times — yet there’s always been one glaring snub.

Although Beyoncé is now the most decorated artist of all time, having won a record breaking 32 Grammy awards, the singer has never been awarded the top prize — despite many considering her the artist of our generation.

Adele, Beyonce and Lizzo at the 65th annual Grammy Awards (CBS via Getty Images)

While awaiting Sunday’s final award of the night, many were convinced that her groundbreaking 2022 album Renaissance would finally win. So when it was announced by the ceremony’s host Trevor Noah that Harry Styles’ album Harry’s House had nabbed the top prize, the room was visibly shocked. In fact, militant Beyoncé fans could even be heard booing as the performer took to the stage.

In his defence, he’s opening remark: “Well, shit”, insinuates his mutual surprise. After shouting out his fellow nominees – who also included Kendrick Lamar, Adele and Bad Bunny – and reminding everybody that, “there is no such thing as ‘best’ in music,” he awkwardly signed off: “I’m just so— This doesn’t happen to people like me very often and this is so, so nice.”

Harry Styles with Taylor Swift at the Grammys (Getty Images)

As a white, cis-gendered, able bodied man, the statement was greeted by some stoney faces in the room. Social media was also quick to point out his blunder. “Harry styles said ‘this doesn’t happen to people like me very often’ and I gotta be honest I can’t think of a type of people this happens for more,” one person tweeted, referencing the fact that a Black woman hadn’t won the award since Lauryn Hill in 1999, while Styles was the 33rd white man to accept the honour. “’A black woman hasn’t won in over 20 years and a Hip Hop artist hasn’t won in 19 years. A white man won in 2015,” lamented another.

Even fans are puzzled by the tone deaf comment. “Absolutely Love Harry Styles and lots of his music. But…he was in the biggest boy band in the world, created on a reality television show, and he’s a white British millionaire,” echoed someone else.

Harry Styles arrives for the 65th Annual Grammy Awards (AFP via Getty Images)

Across social media users have been quick to point out what he meant by “people like me”.

“Guys he’s referring to the bad at acting community,” said one woman in a viral TikTok, to which others flooded the comments, “no I think he meant people who don’t deserve Grammys”.

Either way, Beyoncé appears to remain unbothered — with the record breaking Grammy Award winning artist set for her biggest year yet. She’s already taken over the internet with her (controversial) $24 million set for the opening of the Royal Atlantis Dubai and crashed Ticketmaster several times with the release of her Renaissance tour tickets — Queen B doesn’t need another award to prove she’s the artist of a generation. And, Harry, perhaps think before you speak next time.

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