2023 Grammy Awards highlights the biggest names in the music industry. Photo courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.
EVA HALLMAN | STAFF REPORTER | email@example.com
On Sunday, Feb. 6, Los Angeles welcomed the 65th Annual Grammy Awards. Music icons came together to celebrate and recognize the biggest stars in music while Butler students watched in anticipation to see if their favorite artist won. Between snubs, surprises and star-studded performances, the 2023 Grammys was a night to remember.
The 65th Annual Grammy Awards was hosted by comedian Trevor Noah, his third time hosting. With the last few ceremonies being produced during the peak of COVID-19, this year’s show was a larger-scale production. The 2023 Grammys hit a three-year high for ratings with 12.4 million viewers tuning in. This was a 30% increase from last year’s 9.59 million viewers. Due to scheduling conflicts, the 2022 Grammys was located in Las Vegas, the first time the venue changed from New York City or Los Angeles since 1973. The show returned to Los Angeles at Crypto.com Arena this year.
As host, Noah cracked a couple of jokes during his monologues. People have mixed feelings about his content throughout the night, with many saying his hosting was forgettable.
Besides the typical ceremony host critiques, the 2023 Grammys was a night of individual and global achievement.
Beyoncé made history this year as she set a record for the most career Grammys won by any artist. Despite being well decorated, 2023 is Beyoncé’s fourth time losing Album of the Year. This recent snub contributes to a long-standing Grammys tradition of overlooking Black women. The “RENAISSANCE” album signified a movement for the Black queer community but was not recognized as the Album of the Year. She is also the first Black woman to be awarded the Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic Music album.
“Unholy” won Best Pop Group/Duo Performance, which made Kim Petras the first transgender woman to win that award. Sam Smith allowed Petras to accept the Grammy, where she thanked transgender legends like SOPHIE for paving the way for her. After winning, the duo devilishly performed “Unholy.”
Another powerhouse joined the exclusive list of EGOT winners. After having already won Emmy, Oscar and Tony awards, Viola Davis won a Grammy for Best Audiobook, Narration & Storytelling Recording for her memoir “Finding Me.” She becomes one of eight women, out of 18 total, to have EGOT status. Davis is the third Black woman to attain EGOT status.
Snubs and surprises
Album of the Year is an award musicians dream of. As the highest, most coveted award of the night, it is always debated on who deserves it most. This year’s nominees were “30” by Adele, “Un Verano Sin Ti” by Bad Bunny, “Special” by Lizzo, “RENAISSANCE” by Beyoncé and “Harry’s House” by Harry Styles, “Music Of The Spheres” by Coldplay amongst others.
“Harry’s House” won Album of the Year, shocking many.
Clare Wohlschlaeger, a first-year music industry studies major, avid concert-goer and Styles fan, was happy that he won and does not support the backlash.
“I’m very glad that Harry won, but I hate that people are using this to pull him down,” Wohlschlaeger said. “Initially, my gut was telling me either Adele or Beyoncé for Album of the Year.”
“RENAISSANCE” made Beyoncé the first woman to have all seven of her solo studio albums debut at the top spot on the Billboards. The instant success of “RENAISSANCE” made the album a front-runner for one of the Big Four award categories: Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist. However, within her 32 Grammys, she has only won within the Big Four once. That win was back in 2009 for Song of the Year, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”
Owen Beute, sophomore environmental studies major and Coldplay fan, shares his thoughts on the Album of the Year winner.
“[The Album of the Year winner was] definitely disappointing,” Beute said. “I think everyone thought ‘RENAISSANCE’ was going to win or should have won. I’m not surprised Coldplay did not win but of course, I would have liked to see it.”
Some anonymous voters of the Recording Academy revealed that they did not vote for Beyoncé for Album of the Year, Song of the Year or Record of the Year as they believe she “wins too much.” This idea historically aligns with the tradition of many major awards institutions voting for consensus and conformity, often informed by implicit biases, rather than voting logically based on objective quality and cultural relevance.
The snubbing of Black artists has led to many popular musicians refusing to submit their music to be considered for a Grammy nomination or simply not attending the ceremonies. The Weeknd’s newest album “Dawn FM” could have been nominated for numerous awards after breaking history in both sales and charting and a Super Bowl Halftime Show performance, yet he did not submit his work. His 2021 album “After Hours” received zero nominations, thus beginning his Grammys boycott. Drake also no longer allows his label to submit his music “because of the secret committees,” even with his June 2022 album “Honestly, Nevermind” debuting at No. 1 on the charts on the Hot 100.
Assistant professor of English Natalie Lima is hopeful about the future for a more inclusive Grammys.
“I knew that Beyonce had won so many Grammys, but I didn’t realize that she hadn’t been winning ones for the big awards,” Lima said. “I think pushing to be more inclusive is a good thing … permanent change happens slowly.”
In a surprise win against many of the biggest hits of 2022, Bonnie Raitt won Song of the Year for her song “Just Like That.” The song beat out Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault),” “As It Was” by Harry Styles, “BREAK MY SOUL” by Beyonce, “Easy on Me” by Adele and many more.
Lizzo won Record of the Year for “About Damn Time,” which took social media by storm when it was released. This marks another historic win for the Grammys, as Lizzo is the first woman to win Record of the Year since 1994. The first woman to win the award was Whitney Houston for her rendition of “I Will Always Love You” in 1994. During her acceptance speech, she dedicated the award to Prince, stating how she just wanted to create “positive feel good” music that inspired people to love themselves. She also shouted out Beyoncé for influencing her to make music that evokes emotion as Beyoncé does. “About Damn Time” beat out “Easy on Me,” “BREAK MY SOUL,” “Woman” by Doja Cat and other nominated records.
Samara Joy won Best New Artist. Anitta fans were hoping to see her win Best New Artist as Joy was coined an underdog for this award. The 23-year-old jazz singer also won Best Jazz Album and performed one of her hits “Can’t Get Out of This Mood.” Joy performed at Clowes Memorial Hall last year.
Performances of the evening
Bad Bunny opened the 2023 Grammy awards, which got the whole crowd standing with his performances of “Después de la Playa” and “El Apagón.”
Julia Tonacatl, sophomore finance major and Bad Bunny fan, raved about his opening number.
“His performances are always over the top and I am here for it,” Tonacatl said. “This specific performance was amazing [as] you’re used to hearing the original way the song is composed, but the way he sang it differently made it sound more heartfelt.”
Bad Bunny later went on to win Best Música Urbana Album for “Un Verano Sin Ti.” The album also became the first Spanish-language long play to be nominated for Album of the Year.
As previously mentioned, Smith and Petras gave a hellish performance of their Grammy-winning duet, “Unholy.” The performance inspired Republicans on Twitter to compare their performance to “worshiping the devil.” This backlash is similar to the 2021 Grammys where Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion performed “WAP,” instigating controversy. Conservatives took to social media to share their discomfort with the performance, stating how they were getting many calls from their constituents. The Federal Communication Commission received over 1,000 complaints about the performance, saying it was “pornography” and “too inappropriate for children.”
The backlash from both performances represents a common theme of the hypersexualization of Black female and queer artists in addition to the double standards for female and male musicians in performances. For example, at the 2004 Super Bowl, Justin Timberlake ripped Janet Jackson’s breastplate, exposing her. There was outrage … but not for Jackson. CBS paid a fine of $550,000 for “indecent exposure” to the FCC, then the Grammys banned Janet that year, and networks blacklisted and banned her music.
Styles performed “As It Was,” and many said that it was one of the worst performances of the night. However, Style’s dancers took to social media to add more light on Style’s shaky performance. They revealed that the turntable Styles and his dancers performed on was errantly spinning in reverse, the opposite of what they practiced.
Wohlschlaeger comments on Harry’s performance as she was eager to see a Grammy performance from him again.
“While I am a huge Harry fan, I will admit it wasn’t his best performance,” Wohlschlaeger said. “I’d say his 2021 Grammy performance was better.”
Lizzo took the crowd to church with a soulful, gospel-inspired rendition of “Special,” and Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Chris Stapleton sang “Higher Ground.” Steve Lacy performed his nominated song, “Bad Habit” — which was up for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance — and many more artists took the stage to perform.
Hip-hop was celebrated on the Grammy’s stage with a 15-minute tribute to 50 years of the genre. Artists from LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa, Lil Uzi Vert and many more honored the legacy and passed artists with a high-energy tribute. From 90s classics to recent hits, the Grammys united subgenres and decades of talent into this performance.
In honoring the musicians who passed last year, artists came together to remember and highlight their achievements. Specifically, the 2023 Grammys honored Loretta Lynn, Takeoff and Christine McVie, who all passed away in 2022. Artists such as Kacey Musgraves, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, Mick Fleetwood and Quavo were some of the top performers in this tribute.
All in all, the 2023 Grammys highlighted amazing artists who work tirelessly to perform and create art for listeners globally. The 65th Grammy Awards may have acknowledged some of the biggest names in music currently and only time will tell what will happen at the next ceremony.