Beyoncé Got Robbed at the Grammys Again, Proving a Problematic Trend

Beyoncé Got Robbed at the Grammys Again, Proving a Problematic Trend

Despite her show-stopping performance and groundbreaking album, Queen Bey lost the three biggest categories of the night to Adele—proving that the Recording Academy is willfully out of touch.

Despite her show-stopping performance and groundbreaking album, Queen Bey lost the three biggest categories of the night to Adele—proving that the Recording Academy is willfully out of touch.

Text: Ian David Monroe

The Recording Academy, aka the people behind the Grammy Awards, are so willfully out of touch that the 2017 Album of the Year Award winner, Adele, conceded her win to Beyoncé.

“I can’t possibly accept this award. I'm very humbled and very grateful and gracious, but my life is Beyoncé,” said a crying Adele, shockingly, while accepting the gramophone. The sentiment was more than just fandom, though: “The Lemonade album, Beyoncé, was so monumental, and so well thought out, and so beautiful and soul-bearing. And we all got to see another side of you that you don't always let us see, and we appreciate that. And all us artists adore you. You are our light. And the way that you make me and my friends feel, the way you make my black friends feel, is empowering, and you make them stand up for themselves. And I love you. I always have. And I always will.”

This loss marks the third time that Beyoncé has been nominated by the Academy for Album of the Year and lost: I Am…Sasha Fierce (2010) to Taylor Swift’s Fearless, Beyonce (2015) to Beck’s Morning Phase, and Lemonade (2017) to Adele’s 25. Last year, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly lost to Taylor Swift’s 1989. The following tweet makes a certain trend glaringly apparent:

Year after year, culture-defining albums by black artists have been overlooked in favor of their white, less confrontational (meaning more mainstream) counterparts. This detestable trend cannot be overlooked and caused both Kanye West and Frank Ocean (who didn’t even submit his critically-acclaimed album, Blonde, for award consideration) to boycott the ceremony this year. In an incensed Tumblr post, Ocean explained his reason for skipping and called out the “culture bias” of the producers.

“You know what’s really not 'great TV’ guys? 1989 getting Album of the Year over To Pimp a Butterfly. Hands down one of the most 'faulty’ TV moments I’ve seen. If you’re up for a discussion about the cultural bias and general nerve damage the show you produce suffers from then I’m all for it.” In his post, the singer doesn’t bring up any new sentiments, but that a year later they still sting is telling. Ocean is not alone in his feelings either.

A few hours after the ceremony last night, Solange Knowles, sister of Beyoncé and presenter of the evening, tweeted a link to Ocean’s post in what is an obvious and not so subtle dig at the Grammys.

It’s unclear when the Recording Academy stopped caring about true celebration of talent in favor of good television, but now they’re doing neither. It’s not good television to watch Adele win Album of the Year over Beyoncé, when not even she believes she deserves it. It’s not good television to watch Beyonce give an emboldened speech about wanting “to show images to my children that reflect their beauty” for Best Urban Contemporary Album—a catch-all category for black artists despite their genre, and a limp consolation prize, at best.

You know what is good television? A very pregnant Beyoncé delivering the best performance of the night, looking like the regal queen that her peers (if you can even call them that) believe she is. What is good television is putting Beyoncé front row and center with her husband and daughter.

The question at the heart of Beyoncé's loss is, what more could she have possibly done? Lemonade was as groundbreaking as it was ubiquitous in pop culture this year, and it's hard to imagine that such a feat could easily be topped. And yet, that's the message the Recording Academy was sending: if you're a black artist, not even your best is good enough. Sure it was a nice gesture that Adele literally broke her award and gave half to Beyoncé, but it's a gesture that should never have been necessary. Beyoncé deserved more than half of an award, and the whole world knows it.

What the Recording Academy producers are saying is that Beyoncé is worthy of spectacle, but not recognition. And that is the unfortunate and enduring legacy of black artists in America. Beyoncé, almost presciently, knows this. In her speech, she says, "I feel it’s vital that we learn from the past and recognize our tendencies to repeat our mistakes."

UP NEXT

The Full List of Winners at the 2017 Grammy Awards