Following the Grammys, Controversy

Photo courtesy of Sudhith Xavier at

Sofia Levorchick, Staff Writer

On February 5, the Grammys was held at the arena. Many artists, from well-known pop stars to underground indie artists, were celebrated for their contributions to the music community. Beyoncé broke the record for most Grammys ever won by an artist, and Taylor Swift went home without a single Grammy. However, amidst the celebration, some winners received backlash from the general public and super fans alike. 

Harry Styles, a 29-year-old British pop star, was one of the winners that faced resentment from many, particularly Beyoncé superfans. After winning Best Pop Vocal Album, he was awarded his second Grammy of the night, Album of the Year, which angered Beyoncé fans who thought her latest album, “Renaissance,” was deserving of that Grammy. In addition, during Styles’ acceptance speech, unknown audience members yelled out, “Get off the stage!” and “Beyoncé should have won!” However, the cameras cut to Beyoncé, who was smiling and clapping for the singer.

Moreover, people commented and criticized Styles’ live, Grammy performance of his hit song “As It Was,” claiming that it was not executed well and that there were too many errors. However, backup dancers have spoken up about mishaps, defending Styles and explaining that there were technical difficulties. In fact, backup dancer Brandon Mathis explained in a video on his Instagram story, “The moment the curtain opened and it was time to perform, our turntable started spinning in reverse… backward,” baffling the dancers and Styles himself as the choreography was not aligned with the moving stage during the performance.

In his acceptance speech for AOTY, Styles generally acknowledged the nominees for the award, “I’ve been so inspired by every artist in this category with me.” He also humbly said, “It’s obviously so important for us to remember that there is no such thing as ‘bests’ in music.”

Styles closed his speech with, “This doesn’t happen to people like me very often, and this is so, so nice. Thank you very much,” which triggered commotion throughout social media as the ambiguity of his statement left it open to multiple interpretations, particularly ones surrounding embedded white privilege and queer-baiting.

Styles is a cisgender white male who was raised in England; therefore, many people found the implication that “people like” him are traditionally less likely to win major Grammy awards offensive. One person wrote on Twitter, “‘this doesn’t happen to people like me often’ who, white British men?” and received over 160,000 likes. Many also acknowledged the fact that a black woman hasn’t won Album of the Year since 1999. Thus, some people were hoping a black musician would take home the esteemed prize during Black History Month. In addition, people have brought back the claim that Styles, known for his feminine and gender-bent style, is a queer-baiter, such as this one Twitter user who wrote, “‘This doesn’t often happen to people like me’ YOU’RE A CIS STRAIGHT WHITE BRITISH MALE WHO USES QUEER AESTHETICS TO MAKE UP FOR YOUR SUBPAR MUSIC TO REMAIN RELEVANT…”

Fans of Styles are challenging these claims all over social media. One TikTok user stated, “He [Harry] was just a normal teenager who became a world-renowned pop star who is now a 3x Grammy award winner.” Others explain that he meant that he came from a small town in England without nepotism involved. Additionally, many supporters of Styles are saying that the heckling that occurred during his speech might have distracted him when speaking. However, only Harry himself knows what he meant by those closing words.

At the Brits Awards, which occurred a week after the Grammys, Styles won all of the awards he was nominated for. During his acceptance speech for Artist of the Year, he implicitly referenced his Grammys speech and the controversy following it by stating, “I am very aware of my privilege up here tonight.”

Besides the controversy surrounding Harry Styles, people are confused about the Song of the Year winner, Bonnie Raitt, and her song “Just Like That.” This 73-year-old singer was nominated for this award alongside multiple famous and contemporary artists, such as Adele, Beyoncé, Harry Styles, and Taylor Swift. The SOTY award focuses on the songwriting and lyricism of a song. Predicted by many to win was Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” because of its popularity throughout 2022 and its lyrics that intricately tell a heartbreaking story. Andy Greene from Rolling Stone said Swift deserved Song of the Year “because the 10-minute ‘All Too Well’ became so much more to fans than a peek into Taylor’s bad breakup with a movie star. This epic song’s lyrical detail and the jaw-dropping intensity of Swift’s delivery make it arguably her greatest songwriting triumph.”

Many, especially those of the younger generations, have not even heard the song “Just Like That” once before its win. One Twitter user wrote, “The song of the year is a song I’ve never heard,” receiving over 200,000 likes.