The Grammys Present: One of the Biggest Fumbles of the Decade


Cooper Milliken

So…the Grammy’s happened and, like clockwork, they fumbled the bag. As is with “Awards Season” there are fumbles by the voting groups that, understandably,  make everyone furious. This isn’t something pertaining to just the Grammy’s though, this happens every year with the Oscars, the Billboard Awards, the Emmys, the Critics Choice Awards, and…even the Streamys (are those still going?). There is, surprisingly, a disconnect between prestigious judges in the largest industries in the world and the rest of society. To start off the 2023 music awards season, we’ve been reminded of this with the Grammy’s major misfire in gifting album of the year…to Harry Styles for Harry’s House whenever Beyoncé’s album, RENAISSANCE, was clearly better written and produced, and had an equally large if not larger cultural impact than the bland soft rock/indie record released by Styles. 

Although, before I start getting into my opinions on the differences between Styles and Beyonce sonically I want to put something out. No matter how much you love someone, no matter how much you support them, you shouldn’t bombard their competition with hate and cynicism as they’re trying to thank those who did give them the victory. If you have something to say, save it for later. Whether it be the heckling of Harry Styles during his speech or Kanye West jumping on stage after Beyonce lost a VMA to Taylor Swift…don’t take the spotlight from someone else while it’s actively lighting them. That’s not cool. 

So, I’ll be comparing these two in two different camps. How well their music was made and whether or not they did actually deserve this award. I’ll be explaining what made Styles undeserving as a creative and what made him undeserving when you compare the trajectory of their careers. 

Firstly, Renaissance absolutely demolishes Harry’s House when it comes to the production and writing. Beyonce thematically creates a much stronger album than Styles. Her album is a celebration of blackness, queerness, and womanhood. Her lyrics celebrate sexuality and culture, allowing for several different audiences to feel empowered by her music. This is an effect Beyonce has always had throughout her discography, but it’s much stronger here. This time around, the point is to empower and to whisk the audience into a world where they can feel a strong love within themselves, their current situation, and the ones they love. This is reflected in almost every song, but it surprisingly doesn’t create something repetitive or bland. This is due to the production of the album. For example, track 7 Church Girl and track 12 THIQUE are essentially about the same thing. They’re both a celebration of sexuality, sex appeal, and queerness although-THIQUE sounds much more like a 2000’s club song while Church Girl sounds like a good for the soul R&B-rap mix. As well, each track flows together seamlessly, creating a full, complete experience with a diverse selection of songs.

Meanwhile, Styles thematically is much more…juvenile. He’s doing what he’s always done over the past twelve years as an artist. He’s still just making songs about love and how lovely love is. He’s still talking about how girls don’t know they’re beautiful, but now he’s doing it through a quirky lens. Yup, Harry isn’t like most girls when it comes to his lyricism, sometimes he just scats like on Track 1 Music For A Sushi Restaurant, and says a series of words that kind of make sense when put together like on Track 10 Keep Driving. He’s not saying much (sometimes he’s not saying any actual words at all), and that should instantly put Renaissance ahead of Harry’s House. A lot of Styles’ appeal comes from his production though. The reason his songs are so popular in commercials or on TikTok is because it’s all earworm music. It’s designed to get stuck in your head due to its quirky use of instruments, but overall repetitive structure. It’s the same assembly line type of production he’s been exposed to ever since the start of his career, and unfortunately the type of production I think that he’s been trying to escape. However, his choice in producers, and his inability to expand his aspirations are holding him back. Therefore, Styles has not proven himself as a better musician than Beyonce. He’s still making the same repetitive teeny bopper stuff that he’s been making since the start of his career, but now he’s just appealing to a different type of teen. Meanwhile, Beyonce is making intelligent, interesting, and ever changing choices with her music. Almost every song on this album sounds different, and still encapsulates the points she’s trying to make. That’s a true achievement as a musician if you ask me. 

Although, in the grand scheme of things…who is more deserving of the Grammy when it comes to where they are in their career? How many Grammys have they won prior and why? How hard have they been working? 

Well, let’s create this comparison in the reverse order. Harry Styles has been a part of the music industry for about thirteen years. He was first discovered on Britain’s Got Talent and was a member of the world sensation One Direction. 1D was never nominated for a Grammy despite being one of the biggest members of the music scene from 2010 to 2016. Although, what about Styles’ solo career? Harry’s House was Styles’ third solo album after his self titled album in 2017 and his second album Fine Line from 2019. Fine Line was nominated for three Grammy’s and won for Best Pop Solo Performance with the presentation of his hit single Watermelon Sugar. The album as a whole was also nominated for a Grammy. So, from 2011 when the first One Direction album came out to 2021 when he was nominated for three Grammys there was a ten year gap of radio silence from the Recording Academy. 

Beyonce is a slightly different story though. She started off as a member of the 90’s R&B group, Destiny’s Child. They were also active for six years (1998-2004), but unlike One Direction they had won three Grammys by the time they disbanded. As many know, the winning streak for Beyonce wouldn’t end there. Her first solo album was in 2003 and her last solo album before RENAISSANCE was released in 2016. In thirteen years she acquired 22 more Grammys, and then acquired more with several of her other musical endeavors that weren’t strictly albums. So, by the time the latest Grammys were aired she had won three more Grammys putting her at a total of 25 at the start of the 2023 Grammys and then she won four more at the 2023 Grammys therefore leaving her with the title of “Artist With The Most Grammy Wins”. 

Geez, I’ve said Grammys like eighty thousand times. 

Obviously, Beyonce hasn’t had a lack of Grammys and if you think about it just from the numbers alone it becomes kind of clear that…maybe Harry Styles needed some credit and Beyonce very easily could’ve done without. 

Although, we’re not quite done yet. Beyonce’s work ethic has been unmatched by almost anyone in the music industry. Every single one of her albums are heralded as masterpieces in their own right and her last three solo projects were also nominated for “Album of the Year” at the Grammys. Although, she never won. It’s almost as if winning a handful of Grammys due to singular elements of her work, made the acknowledgement of her accomplishment as a whole null and void. The idea that Beyonce doesn’t need another Grammy win, acknowledging her art as a whole is ridiculous. 

Imagine if you had put your heart and soul into something and you, alongside everyone you showed it to, loved it. Although, you were only rewarded on specific elements of it, and you weren’t rewarded on the project as a whole. You would feel a little cheated, right? You’d be a little upset. As well, those who support you (which is essentially everyone) would probably be a little upset too, right? 


So…Beyonce deserves a Grammy for Album of the Year. She continuously crafts pieces of art that are slightly acknowledged by the Recording Academy, but are never granted any attention as a whole project. Meanwhile, Harry Styles gets nods for both his individual efforts, but also his effort as a whole…on his third solo project. His third project which, compared to Beyonce’s album, doesn’t have enough nuance to even get a nomination (if you ask me). Although, the thing that irks me about the whole debacle is this. In his acceptance speech, Styles decided to finish out with thus, “This doesn’t happen to people like me very often and this is so, so nice. Thank you very much.” This doesn’t happen to people like me. This doesn’t happen to people like me? Like–what do you mean by that, Mr. Styles? White guys? “Unlabeled” men who have a history of dating exclusively women? Upper middle class English boys? No matter where he’s coming from with that statement there’s no doubt that it wasn’t the right thing to finish off with considering that almost all of his competition for the category were either women, people of color, or women of color. You have to exclude Coldplay and ABBA, but still. I’m just in pure shock at that statement, and if Styles hadn’t said that I don’t think I would’ve cared this much. I don’t think I would’ve listened to both albums and compared them to write this piece. I wouldn’t have cared, but seeing that on my Twitter feed and knowing where I’ve gotten just because I’m a white guy makes me wonder how he can lack such self awareness. Genuinely, I believe this will be one of the biggest award show fumbles of the 2020’s.