Harry Styles’s Grammys speech has sparked a backlash after he claimed “this doesn’t happen to people like me very often” while accepting an award that white men have won 32 times.
Styles won the coveted album of the year award as well as best pop vocal album for his third studio album, “Harry’s House”, at the 65th awards show in Los Angeles on Sunday.
The 29-year-old singer appeared shocked to be taking home the biggest award of the night over artists including Beyonce, Lizzo, Adele, Kendrick Lamar and Bad Bunny.
“I think on nights like tonight it’s important for us to remember there is no such thing as ‘best’ in music,” he said.
“I don’t think any of us sit in the studio making decisions on what is going to get us one of these,” he added, holding up the award.
It was the final line of his speech that caused uproar, after he said: “This doesn’t happen to people like me very often and this is so, so nice”.
Social media users were quick to question what Styles, a white male artist and former boy band pop superstar, meant by the comment after edging out women and artists of colour for the award.
Styles, along with Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson, rose to fame on The X Factor when they formed the boy band group One Direction in 2010. All now have solo careers.
Beyonce fans were particularly aggrieved by the snub, the fourth time that the singer has lost out on winning album of the year at the Grammys.
Podcast host Sam Sanders tweeted: “’This doesn’t happen to people like me’ is the most white privilege-iest thing to ever be uttered at an awards show ever for all time”.
Saying ‘this doesn’t happen to people like me very often’ when a black woman hasn’t won that award since 1999 is crazy,” another Twitter user said.
White men, including bands and duos fronted by white men, have won nearly half the time, according to an analysis by Insider.
Styles is the 33rd white man to accept the album of the year award.
In its 65-year history, only 11 black artists have won album of the year at the Grammys, according to the analysis.
The prestigious award has not been won by a black woman since Lauryn Hill in 1999.
But the night was not without its success for Beyonce, who made history when her album Renaissance picked up a gong for best dance/electronic album.
It brings the American superstar’s lifetime tally of Grammy awards to a record-breaking 32.
She took home four trophies on Sunday night but was snubbed in the major races.
‘I’m trying to receive this right’
The 41-year-old overtook Hungarian-British conductor George Solti, whose record of 31 Grammys had stood for more than 20 years.
“Thank you so much. I’m trying not to be too emotional. I’m trying to just receive this night,” she told the audience, thanking the LGBTQ community in particular for their support of her music. “I’d like to thank the queer community for your love and for inventing the genre.”
It is not the first time Beyonce’s failure to win a top award at the Grammys has overshadowed the ceremony. In 2017, Adele used her acceptance speech for her album 25 to insist Beyonce’s Lemonade should have won instead.
In 2015, Kanye West responded to Beck’s surprise win in the category by jokingly approaching the stage to interrupt his acceptance in support of Beyoncé’s self-titled album, which had also been expected to win that year.
At the Grammys, Styles said in the winners’ room after the ceremony that he was “overwhelmed” but “so grateful” to receive the award, and that the album had been “for my friends”.
During the ceremony, he also performed his hit song As It Was, which was nominated for song of the year and record of the year but lost out to Bonnie Raitt and Lizzo respectively.
On stage, Styles wore a long tasselled silver shirt, with matching trousers, and was joined by a troupe of dancers for a neatly choreographed routine on a separate rotating stage piece.
Harry’s House spent six weeks at number one in the UK charts.
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