Grammys 2023: Beyoncé makes history, while being shut out of major awards
Beyoncé becomes most-lauded artist in Grammy history, while once again losing in biggest categories
Beyoncé, both the most nominated and one of the most shut-out artists of the Grammys, finally got her flowers on Sunday — sort of.
While the singer finally capped her journey to become the winningest musician in the awards' history, she was once again denied wins in all major categories — losing in song of the year, record of the year and even album of the year.
Earlier in the awards season it had already seemed to be something of a repeat of 2017, when music greats Adele and Beyoncé were seen as frontrunners competing head to head in all major categories. But as the night crept up, it became clear the 65th Grammys were much more than a two-person horse race.
The awards themselves made that very clear in the show. In a special segment, organizers had a group of music fans sit at a table, each assigned to a nominee, and state their case for why their favourite artist should win the coveted album of the year category. And while each self proclaimed superfan made convincing cases — including for Beyoncé's Renaissance and Bad Bunny's Un Verano Sin Ti — it was Sudbury, Ont. great-grandmother Reina Lafantaisie who clearly won over the audience.
"Let me tell you why I like Harry Styles — aside from being good looking," the 78-year-old said.
"If the Grammys did their job, he's getting that award!"
Fortunately for her (and of course Styles himself) his album Harry's House took home the award in a stunning upset — as a beaming Lafantaisie announced his win, and hugged him onstage.
His win, in many ways, echoed 2017 again — where Beyoncé was widely nominated, but ended the night having lost in coveted categories over and over. This year, she lost to Styles for album, but also lost record of the year to Lizzo's About Damn Time, and almost unbelievably lost song of the year to Bonnie Raitt's much less well-known track Just Like That. Adele meanwhile also lost in all of those categories, though managed to take home a win for best pop solo performance with Easy On Me.
The sting is all the more palpable in context. She is the de-facto artist with the most losses for recording of the year, as last year she became the musician nominated the most times in that category with eight — with Grammy voters opting to give it to someone else every time. In fact, the only time she has ever won in a major category was with her 2010 song of the year win for Single Ladies, while the album of the year category itself hasn't gone to a Black woman since 1999.
Still, the Destiny's Child-alum appeared grateful for the honours she did receive. After missing her first win of the night for best R&B song for Cuff It due to "L.A. traffic," a tearful Beyoncé took to the stage after winning best dance/electronic music album — and becoming the most-lauded Grammys artist of all time.
It was her 32nd career win, earned after 88 career nominations — which had already tied her for the most nominated artist of all time with her husband, Jay-Z. Onstage, she thanked both her family, and her fans for positioning her at what effectively amounts to the pinnacle of the music industry.
"I'd like to thank the queer community for your love, and for inventing this genre," she added. "God bless you, thank you so much to the Grammys."
Outside of those performers' wins, the Grammys were a qualified success — despite running over an hour longer than scheduled.
Of course there were snubs: the biggest being K-pop band BTS losing for both music video and pop duo/group performance, the third year in a row they have been nominated and not won. There were also passionate speeches: the most moving being Kim Petras's heartfelt acceptance for being the first transgender artist to win in that that category, for her and Sam Smith's Unholy.
Meanwhile, a number of Canadian artists saw success — most notably North Vancouver's Tobias Jesso Jr., who won both the overarching songwriter of the year award and received a sidelong honour of being credited as a songwriter on Styles's winning album. Drake also took home an award as a featured artist: he won best melodic rap performance for his work on Future's Wait For U despite not submitting any of his own work after choosing to boycott the awards
Montreal's Yannick Nézet-Séguin also snagged two awards for best opera recording and best classical solo vocal album, while Burnaby's Michael Bublé earned a fifth career trophy — winning best traditional pop vocal album for Higher. And earlier, Raitt gave a blink-and-you'll-miss-it mention to the Bros. Landreth — the Canadian writers of Made Up My Mind, for which she won best americana performance on her version of the track.
But an awards show sinks or swims on its performances, and its host. As awards shows ratings plummeted over the past decade, and then essentially crashed and burned during the pandemic, organizers have scrambled to figure out a way to make their ceremonies worth the price of admission. Trevor Noah did an impressive job of giving a reason to come back, keeping charisma up throughout and delivering funny — if noticeably safe — quips from top to tail.
Noah's shots pulled the show along, from the intro (where he noted that when women throw their panties at Harry Styles, "he puts them on and he looks better in them than they do!") to a later-on introduction between Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson and his supposed admirer Adele.
But what really made this years' staging worthwhile was the performances — both the superstar names, and the impressive production they were afforded. After a show-stopping performance from Bad Bunny at the beginning of the event, everyone from Stevie Wonder, to Lizzo, to Sheryl Crow took to the stage to prove awards shows are worth tuning in for.
All in all, there were three performances that stuck out as worth mentioning: the first being the mid show performance recognizing the 50th anniversary of hip hop featured Dr. Dre, Method Man, Queen Latifah, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Nelly, Lil Uzi Vert and more in a jaw-dropping showcase of the genre. At the close, a performance of DJ Khaled's God Did corralled Jay Z, John Legend and a host of others at a mock dinner table stuffed with fruit, vegetables and undeniable talent.
But Quavo's tribute to Migos bandmate Takeoff, who was killed in a shooting in late 2022, was the most impactful — an emotional live rendition of his track Without You performed during the in memoriam section. It, like the entirety of this year's Grammys, was a persuasive argument for the show's continued existence — all that's left to see is whether anyone tuned in.