Beyonce attends the 65th Grammy Awards on Sunday in a rarified state: a pop deity covered with awards, surrounded by one of the most devoted fan groups in the music industry, and on the verge of Grammy immortality. Why then does she feel the same way?
Beyoncé, who already holds the record for most Grammy wins with 28 wins, is the artist with the most nominations this year with nine. She and her husband, Jay-Z, have each received 88 nods, which ties them for the most of any artist.
Beyoncé needs just three more Grammys to tie the record for most total victories, presently held by conductor Georg Solti, who passed away in 1997, and four to break it, which might make for dramatic television. Beyoncé, 41, is up for record, song, and album of the year for the third time in her career, increasing the likelihood that her crowning moment will occur at the conclusion of a performance that has struggled to draw audiences and get favourable press in previous years.
The singer’s coronation is far from guaranteed due to her own complicated relationship with the awards, despite the fact that many Grammy watchers believe Beyoncé will enter from a position of strength given the success of “Renaissance,” her dance-infused album, on both the commercial and critical fronts. Beyoncé had a tonne of victories, but she only has a 1 for 13 record in the main, all-genre categories for albums where she was the primary artist.
The main concern for fans and business experts as the event draws near with singers like Adele, Harry Styles, Lizzo, Kendrick Lamar, and Bad Bunny also up for the top honors isn’t how much she will earn, but rather: What if she loses once more?
The destiny of one musician may determine how the public views the Grammys this year more than most. A significant victory for Beyoncé may be viewed as a long overdue redemption, a Grammy tradition. A significant defeat, though, may cast doubt on the story of redemption that the Recording Academy, the organisation that organises the awards, has carefully nurtured for years in an effort to allay long-standing complaints that the event too frequently fails to honour Black artists with top honours.
Some well-known Black musicians, like Drake, Frank Ocean, and the Weeknd, have stopped attending the Grammys in recent years due to this criticism and questions about the voting process. However, there are some indications that the prizes may be shifting as well. The Black jazz musician Jon Batiste won album of the year last year, while H.E.R.’s Black Lives Matter protest song won song of the year in 2021. The academy reports that since 2019, there have been 19% more women and 38% more members of “traditionally underrepresented populations” than there were in the previous election cycle.
According to Billboard awards editor Paul Grein, if Adele wins the album of the year award on Sunday, or if Styles, Abba, Coldplay, or Brandi Carlile triumph, it would be the fourth time Beyoncé has lost the title to a white performer. He replied, “The Grammys would get beaten up.” I don’t believe it’s going to happen, he continued.The Grammy Awards are finally back in Los Angeles, on their home court, the Crypto.com Arena, after two years of disruption by Covid-19.
Apart from Beyoncé, the night has several potential buzz-worthy moments. The album of the year race is completed by Bad Bunny, Lamar, Lizzo, and Mary J. Blige. The first album solely in Spanish to be nominated for album of the year is Bad Bunny’s massively popular streaming hit “Un Verano Sin Ti.” Swift may finally win song of the year for “All Too Well (10 Minute Version),” an extended remix of a song she initially released in 2012. This follows five unsuccessful nominations.
On Sunday, Styles, Bad Bunny, Lizzo, Sam Smith, Kim Petras, Steve Lacy, Blige, Luke Combs, and Carlile will all be performing. Whether Beyoncé, Swift, Lamar, or Adele will also perform has been the subject of weeks of industry rumours and fan cult speculation.
But Beyoncé’s narrative is the one that has, by far, garnered the most interest. As much as supporters hope for victory, history is on the side of the pessimists. Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston, and Lauryn Hill were the only Black women to have won album of the year, and they all did it in the 1990s. Of Beyoncé’s 28 victories, just one was in the top category, song of the year. She first gained notoriety as a lyricist for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” more than ten years ago.
Brandon Katamara, a student in Cardiff, Wales, who has managed the @rumiyonce Beyoncé fan account with more than 400,000 followers on Instagram since he was 13, said: “The fact that she has not won a major award since 2010 is absurd.”Even if Beyoncé’s No. 1 smash “Break My Soul” won awards for song or record of the year, according to 20-year-old Katamara, the pain wouldn’t go away. We don’t mind if she just accepts one prize, he added. “All we want is for her record of the year to win,”
According to Katamara, the social media response will be “9.5 out of 10.” (The worst-case scenario for the BeyHive is a shutout that causes their heroine to be overtaken by Americana musician Alison Krauss, who has two nominations in genre categories this year and is only one victory behind Beyoncé in the race for most awards.)
It would be unjust, according to producer and Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr., to use Beyoncé’s success or failure in any particular competition as a barometer for alterations to the voting membership, which has around 11,000 members.
He stated, “My aim is that the outcomes would be more diverse across the whole field, not just in one area, if voters are more diverse.”
The greatest vote blocs per genre, according to the Recording Academy’s statistics, are pop (23%) and jazz (16%). R&B has 15% of the vote, whereas rock and alternative are listed separately but together would account for 25% of votes.
The academy boosted the number of candidates in the top categories from five to eight in 2018 and then again in a last-minute move to 10 nominees in 2021, perhaps making the outcome even less predictable.
However, Beyoncé is in fact a proxy for the Grammys’ nuanced handling of Black singers as a whole, according to several observers.
Cipha Sounds, a seasoned radio personality now working for New York’s retro hip-hop and R&B station 94.7 The Block, stated, “It’s always bumpy.” As though the academy must “check the diversity boxes,” he continued, “it feels like they don’t offer the same level of love that they do to other genres, but when they do it feels sort of forced.”
He claimed that despite this, Black musicians and fans yearn for the validation that comes with a Grammy. We only need standard credit, he continued.
Attracting viewers to the yearly programme is crucial for the academy, a nonprofit organisation that receives the majority of its funding from fees associated to the television broadcast. These figures have been declining for a while. An all-time low of 8.8 million people watched the show in 2021; 8.9 million people did it in 2018.
The Super Bowl halftime show has also become one of the biggest music media events of all time. Last year, an average of 103.4 million people tuned in to watch a throwback hip-hop segment featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and others, and this year’s show, featuring Rihanna, has been building for weeks as a major pop-culture event. An email recently circulated throughout Billboard magazine’s employees. It said, “Music’s Biggest Night is approaching.” “And the Grammys are a week sooner!”
The Grammy Awards have faced a number of issues in recent years regarding nominations, performances, and even internal power conflicts within the academy. Even while they may have been unpleasant for the company, those did generate some curiosity. There has been a lot less chatter, both good and negative, this year. Is the Beyoncé question enough to guarantee the program’s success?
Mason, the head of the school, remarked in a diplomatic manner, “I’m OK with their not being controversy before the show. “I like to think that the music will be the focus.”