Harry Styles, Beyoncé clean up at 2023 Grammys amid stunning performances

Despite criticism, the Grammy’s delivered star power and gave people plenty to talk about

Roman Pallotto and Faith Taylor

The 2023 Grammy Awards show, also the 65th annual ceremony, premiered on February 5 and showcased numerous artists for their talent and drive throughout the past year. Unfortunately, the Academy voting members have yet to rid the stigma surrounding the awards show, particularly that the Grammy winners win out of bias and preference, not out of talent and overall message of the art. Unlike many other awards shows in the game, the Grammys hold a high reputation for recognizing an artist’s hard work and aptitude, which is why we believe the Academy’s voting members should put greater consideration on both the nominees and winners of the awards. 

In a fairly unsurprising and well-deserved win, Lizzo took home the prize for Record of the Year with her pop hit, “About Damn Time.” She beat out ABBA, Adele, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Doja Cat, Steve Lacy, Kendrick Lamar and Harry Styles. Her speech was one of the best of the night, dedicating her win to Prince and giving a sweet and hilarious shout out to Beyoncé.

However, nobody expected 73-year-old, Bonnie Raitt, to win Song of the Year for “Just Like That;” least of all herself. She managed an upset against some of pop music’s biggest stars, including Beyoncé (again), Taylor Swift and Adele.

The award of the night, Album of the Year, went to Harry Styles for his third studio album, “Harry’s House.” The sheer shock on his face and the choice of words opening his speech shows that he clearly did not expect to win. It was a highly competitive pool of nominees this year, full of talented and well-loved artists: ABBA, Adele, Bad Bunny, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Coldplay, Kendrick Lamar and Lizzo. His win also came as a surprise to fans at home, as well as people in the audience. During his speech, audience members could be heard shouting Beyoncé’s name, implying that she should’ve won instead. She has lost all four times she has been nominated in the category, and many fans see Styles’s win as yet another insulting snub.

“I think his [Styles’s win] was very deserved because he has been touring for a really long time and also his album has gotten a lot of publicity,” said senior Aliyah Van Sciver. “However, other candidates, like Beyoncé, did not publicize their album as much and have not been touring compared to Harry so his win was definitely well-deserved.” 

Additionally, a social media uproar emerged in response to what many are calling “tone deaf” remarks, made by Styles during his acceptance speech. He spent the majority of the short speech expressing his devout respect and admiration for all the other nominees, but people across social media platforms have criticized him for saying, as a white man; “this doesn’t happen to people like me very often,” while in a category full of POC, women and LGBTQ+ people. Loyal fans have taken up his defense, pointing out that he has never publicly defined his sexuality, and paired with his blending of gender expression and presentation, he could arguably be a part of the LGBTQ+ community himself. Regardless, due to the award show’s history of snubbing black artists, especially black women, paired with Beyoncé’s loss to Styles in the category, that comment could still come off as ignorant or insensitive.

Unlike most years, and just in time for Black History Month, the ceremony wonderfully highlighted numerous Black women for their phenomenal achievements throughout this year. First off, underground Jazz artist Samara Joy was awarded two Grammys throughout the night. She won both the highly sought award, “Best New Artist” and “Best Jazz Vocal Album.” Another Black woman who is never afraid to break records was given the spotlight numerous times. As a result of Beyoncé securing four Grammys wins just this year, she broke the record for the artist with the most Grammys ever. Not to mention, she was also tied for the most Grammy wins of the night with Gospel group Maverick City Music. 

Another Black woman to achieve something not many other artists can was Viola Davis. She won her first Grammy for the “Best Spoken Word Album” award. Her memoir, “Finding Me,” is what caused her to led to her Grammy and also made her the 18th person to ever achieve EGOT status. Achieving EGOT status is not simple since artists have to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony for their talents, but winning these awards proves to the entertainment industry how diverse and powerful the artist’s talent is. Davis’s win caused her to become just the third Black woman to achieve this reputable status.

The night also boasted a wide variety of really well-done performances, given by artists from a variety of genres. Bad Bunny opened up the show, playing a mashup of his two songs, “El Apagón” and “Después de la Playa.” He was accompanied by a group of backup dancers in colorful costumes.

Brandi Carlile followed, with her rockstar performance of Grammy winning song, “Broken Horses.” Styles performed “As It Was” off of his Album of the Year. He gained some criticism online for what some called a “lackluster” performance, but fans reminded them that he is probably fatigued from being on tour since 2021. Some of his backup dancers also alleged that the platform that they performed on–also seen in the music video for the same song–was spinning in the opposite direction of the one they had rehearsed the choreography in. That kind of confusion could also account for what critics perceived as a less-than-exceptional performance from the English popstar.

The highlight of the night came about midway through the show, in the form of a huge group performance to commemorate 50 years of hip-hop. The performance was such a beautiful and respectful way to honor such an important and well-loved music genre. 

Old and new artists alike came together to enjoy their craft and share it with the world. The Grammys audience was completely captivated, and rightly so. It was transcendent to see history come alive in such a powerful way, and get to relive it. Performers included some of hip-hops very best; LL Cool J, Missy Elliot, Queen Latifah, Lil Wayne and many more.

Other performances throughout the night included Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Chris Stapleton, Lizzo, Sam Smith and Kim Petras, Mary J Blige, Luke Combs and Steve Lacy. Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ performance garnered a lot of attention from fans but also ire from conservative pundits and politicians for its “Satanic” tropes and colors. A handful of artists dedicated heartfelt tributes to their late collaborators and friends during the annual “In Memoriam” segment.

Overall, the Grammys was full of surprises regarding the recipients of the awards, thoughtful performances and highlighted numerous individuals for their amazing drive and talent in the music industry. Hopefully the Grammys next year will include even more memorable moments like this one.