Beyoncé did not win the Grammy for Album of the Year.
This is surprising, because Renaissance is one of the finest albums by one of the most celebrated artists in the history of popular music. It’s also not surprising, because the Recording Academy loves nothing more than to not give its major awards to Beyoncé. It didn’t give her the Album of the Year award in 2017, when Lemonade was in contention. (Adele, who won, wept as she dedicated her award to Queen Bey.) It didn’t give her that award in 2015, when her industry-altering self-titled album was in contention. (The prize was awarded to Beck’s sixth-best album instead.) It denied her Record of the Year last year for her collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion on “Savage” (Billie Eilish, who won, was mortified at being chosen over the two Houston megastars).
This year, Harry Styles won the top award, while Beyoncé once more clapped politely during his acceptance speech. It’d be inaccurate to say that the Grammys don’t like Beyoncé; in fact, during the ceremony, she earned the award for Best Dance/Electronic Music Album, her thirty-second Grammy, which means she now has the most any artist has ever won. They just seem to prefer giving her all of those awards during the early hours of the ceremony, year after year after year. It was, presumably, a bittersweet night for Beyoncé, who was tearful as she acknowledged her record-setting achievement even as she was forced, once more, to accept that there does not seem to be an album in her that the Recording Academy is capable of recognizing at the end of the night.
Here’s what else we learned at this year’s ceremony.
Lizzo became the first Black woman to win Record of the Year since Whitney Houston sang “I Will Always Love You”
The subtext surrounding the many snubs of Beyoncé isn’t just that she’s lost those awards—it’s that they’ve mostly gone to white artists. When the evening’s penultimate award was announced, however, a streak that had continued since 1994 was broken: a Black woman won Record of the Year, for the first time since Harry Styles was just one month old.
Lizzo’s “About Damn Time” is, accordingly, a fitting song to take the prize. The Houston-raised superstar seemed to have a good night overall; she performed the song during the ceremony, mouthed “I love her” to the camera when Bonnie Raitt took the evening’s top songwriting award, and wore spectacular outfits throughout the night—she served multiple iconic looks on the red carpet, in her seat, and on the stage. If there was any question whether Lizzo is at the beginning of a long-term career, it’s been answered—she’s here to stay, and music is better for it.
Willie Nelson gave the Rock his first guitar
While presenting the award for Best Pop Solo Performance, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson dropped a fun tidbit into his remarks—the first guitar he ever owned was a gift from Willie Nelson. What’s the context there? No idea; he was on the clock, after all, so the actor/wrestler/personality merely told the audience that it was a “fun story” before giving the award to Adele. Hopefully we’ll hear the details sometime, though, because the idea of the two of them hanging out sounds like a blast!
In other Willie news, the red-headed stranger won Best Country Album for A Beautiful Time, taking the prize over fellow Texan nominees Miranda Lambert and Maren Morris. And just before the televised portion of the ceremony, the 89-year-old won Best Country Solo Performance for his appropriately named “Live Forever.” Willie was a little more than an hour younger, just a kid with a crazy dream. Here’s to 89 more!
Chris Brown doesn’t know who Robert Glasper is
The award for Best R&B Album was claimed by Houston pianist Robert Glasper, who throughout his career has released traditional jazz records while also leading the Robert Glasper Experiment, a project in which he’s accompanied by singers, rappers, and other artists in recording piano-heavy hip-hop and soul music. When Glasper earned the Grammy for last year’s Black Radio III, fans of the Houston native were thrilled—which is apparently a group that does not include R&B singer Chris Brown.
Brown, whose career peaked more than a decade ago, vented his frustration over being denied the award he coveted on Instagram, posting a photo of Glasper under the text, “Yall playing. Who da f— is this?,” followed by another post in which he wrote, “Who the f— is Robert Glasper.”
Here’s who the f— Robert Glasper is: he previously won the Grammy for Best R&B Album for Black Radio in 2013. While he’s released eleven studio albums as a bandleader, he’s also played sideman to a number of superstars—including Herbie Hancock, Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller, and Anderson .Paak, making him one of the most sought-after pianists in all of jazz, hip-hop, and R&B. The more you know!
Scarface has still got it
One of the cooler moments of the awards night was a sprawling tribute marking fifty years of hip-hop. Rappers from throughout the genre’s history emerged to play snippets of their biggest hits. The entire performance was genuinely epic, a celebration that traced rap’s spread from the East Coast to the West before it found a home in the South. And when it was time for the South to represent, Houston icon Scarface, sporting an Astros cap, strutted across the stage, sounding thirty years younger as he tore through the Geto Boys’ “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”
Only Kacey Musgraves could have played Loretta Lynn’s guitar
The “In Memoriam” section of an awards show can be either transcendent or corny, depending on who’s performing and how the departed are being honored. Last night, it was decidedly the former from the start, when Kacey Musgraves opened by singing the late Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter” while strumming Lynn’s Epiphone guitar. (Lynn died in October at age ninety.) It was a beautiful, spare, haunting tribute, and one that set a special tone that continued even as the memorial spanned genres. Not everything about the Grammys was perfect, but that moment certainly was.