This year, the Grammys featured many unexpected wins, specifically for the bigger awards. Bonnie Raitt won Song of the Year over popular artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift for “Just Like That,” and “Harry’s House” won Album of the Year over Kendrick Lamar’s “Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers,” and Beyonce’s “Renaissance.” The winners from this year have a lot of people wondering if the Grammys are a scam.
Throughout the past 66 years, only eleven Black artists have won album of the year, leading some to accuse the Recording Academy of racial bias. Many best album wins of white artists over Black artists have been questioned, including Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange losing to Mumford & Sons’ Babel, and Beyonce’s Lemonade losing to Adele’s 25. This year’s Album of the Year, Harry’s House, won over Beyonce’s Renaissance and Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers. Both Black artists created incredible works of art, only to be overshadowed by Styles-who obviously stated, “This doesn’t happen to people like me very often.” (Spoiler: It does happen to people like him. All the time). His win once again shows that the Recording Academy often overlooks the works of Black artists.
Recently, Variety released an article that revealed the true reasonings behind the Recording Academy’s votes. While typically secret, the news source spoke with five Recording Academy members to gain their insight. For song of the year, one voter said, “As It Was,” succinctly stating, “I don’t care about the Taylor Swift song.” For the album of the year, one voter stated, “‘Harry’s House.’ Did I personally listen to it a ton? No. Did it make itself known in every TikTok? Absolutely.” Even the Recording Academy itself votes simply based on what is on their for you page. For Record of the Year, one person said, “I voted for ‘As It Was.’ It’s a pretty standard pop song, but it’s catchy and similar to what I would want to put out.” Beyonce and Kendrick worked hard to put out something new and culturally significant but Styles won simply because it was a “standard pop song.” For almost every voter, they said that they didn’t know most of the new artists, and voted for the ones that they did know. Their voting style signifies the way people of color and queer artists are constantly overshadowed, simply for not being as mainstream or doing something different.
Thus, the voting system behind the Grammys shines a light on the declining merit on which the Grammy awards are based on.