Even Adele said so
By Carlos Bilan, Staff Writer
The 58th annual Grammy Awards took place on February 12, and once again for the Album of the Year category, Beyoncé lost.
In 2013, when Beyoncé Knowles’ self-titled album lost against Beck’s Morning Phase, many were shocked as the Beyoncé album created a huge impact in the music scene for its massive opening week sales (despite being released out of the blue), for putting feminism in pop culture, for being a visual album, and for having a fresh sound. Many people on social media said that Beyoncé lost because the “Grammy’s are not about sales.” Fast-forward to 2016, when Beyoncé’s Lemonade was released and received widespread acclaim while also being commercially successful. Despite this, history repeated itself and Lemonade did not win Album of the Year. Now, people on social media who support this decision are saying that she lost because “Lemonade sold less.” Wait, hold on a second—how come this year, it is now about sales?
Well, here is something to think about. A now-deleted tweet by Solange Knowles: “There have only been two black winners in the last 20 years for Album of the Year. There have been over 200 black artists who have performed.” If you broaden the statistics, only 10 black artists have won the award out of the 58 years in the Grammys. That is disturbingly low, and you might think that in the past decade, the Grammy Awards would have become more progressive. In fact, it probably even made things worse when it introduced the award for Best Urban Contemporary Album. You might think that would make it inclusive but in fact, since its creation, it has managed to single out artistically-innovative albums released by black artists on a predominantly white tableau. It can be argued that this gives the Grammys justification in giving the cross-genre highly coveted Album of the Year award to white artists, which is evident when looking at the pattern in recent years. Black artists seem to only be winning in the genres of Urban and Rap/Hip Hop, then ultimately snubbed in cross-genre categories like Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year.
Solo singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens also implied through a post on his website that there is a race problem: “Q: WTF is Urban Contemporary? A: It’s where the white man puts the incomparable pregnant black woman because he is so threatened by her talent, power, persuasion and potential.” Annie Clark, known artistically as St. Vincent, echoed the same sentiment through a tweet in agreement.
Adele, the recipient of the Album of the Year award repeatedly emphasised throughout the night of the award show that she thinks that Beyoncé should have won. In this case, her speech would not even really be considered an “acceptance speech” since she said that she “could not possibly accept [the award]” because Lemonade was “so monumental, well thought-out, beautiful, and soul-baring.” Moreover, it was a surprise when Adele used her white privilege for good when she highlighted how Lemonade was an empowering album for black people during her speech. During the backstage session, Adele told the reporters: “My Album of the Year is Lemonade. […] For her to make such relevant music for that long of a period, I felt the need—it was her time to win. What the fuck does she have to do to win Album of the Year? It was another side of her. Obviously, the visual is very new, and the Grammys are very traditional, but this year I thought would be the year they would go with the tide.”
When even the winner of the award herself recognizes there seems to be a mistake in the decision and acknowledges that she expected the Grammys to be more progressive, then you know that there is a problem. I respect Adele and I think 21 was an incredible album that deserved all the recognition that year. However, 25 was just a rehash of 21, and there was not really anything ground-breaking about it. Lemonade pushed the envelope in music through its brilliant narrative (stages of grief) relating to her personal life, its multitude of genres, and its artistic innovation. By definition, Lemonade is really THE Album of the Year.