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Critics’ notebook: The Grammys are big, but not as big as Beyoncé

Let me get this super duper uber clear: It doesn’t matter that Beyoncé lost album of the year Grammy in 2023 as well as 2017, 2015, and 2010.

Naturally Renaissance was the best album of the past year and most critics thought so. But when it comes to the Grammys, and the majority of voters, artists like Beyoncé will never win and that’s fine.

Because at the end of the day, Beyoncé is Beyoncé – a superstar singer and dancer who has evolved with every album she has released. She has done the unthinkable. She beat the odds. She broke the internet. She has rewritten history. She changed the game.

The reason why albums come out on Friday instead of Tuesday? Beyonce did. Artists who decide to drop music and not pre-announce releases? Beyonce again. She is one of the most impressive visual artists, yet still managed to release a groundbreaking and daring album with no accompanying music videos or movies.

I knew Queen Bey had no chance of winning album of the year Renaissance — after years of beating the Grammy Awards and predicting winners, it was clear she was going to lose. Voters don’t appreciate the kind of art Beyoncé presents. Instead, they’re embarrassingly traditional — you get gold points for strumming a guitar or banging the drums, but for the epic runs Beyoncé sings on “Plastic Off the Sofa”? Nothing. For the sly lyricism on “Heated”? Nothing. For the intricacies and intricacies of “Church Girl,” a song where you can shake your ass and praise the Lord above at the same time – no damn thing.

That’s just it – people like Beyoncé and all hip-hop, mostly black and brown people – don’t get technical points when it comes to Grammy votes. The voters do not understand the textual details. They don’t understand the cadences. They lack the epic metaphors. They find the inventive beats noisy and distracting and find the profound vocals loud and obnoxious.

And here’s the thing – they’ll probably never understand the music.

That’s why you’ll see Bruno Mars – an extremely talented singer, songwriter, producer, guitarist and drummer – come closest to an R&B star winning an album, song and record of the year in the same year. Therefore, Beck, a recording artist, multi-instrumentalist, engineer and producer, will succeed Beyoncé. That’s why U2 will triumph over Kanye West and Mariah Carey’s still-great comeback album Mimi’s emancipation. Therefore, Arcade Fire will beat Eminem and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will get more votes than Lil Wayne. That’s why Bad Bunny was able to literally dominate the entire world and be whittled down to three Grammy nominations, only to win a single award in a Latin music category.

The Grammys have made some changes to the voting system — they’ve even required older voters to show they have recent credits in music to maintain their membership. They added 2,000 new members last year, but that means nothing if 11,000 people have a say. Changes have been made, but a major overhaul is needed to correct the awards voting culture.

Maybe that will happen. Probably not. And we don’t care – because winning a Grammy is cute, but it’s not for the culture.

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