Why Beyonce’s ‘Renaissance’ could (and should) finally win her the Grammy for Album of the Year

To say Beyoncé is the definitive artist of the millennium isn’t an exaggeration. In many ways, Beyoncé is what every artist would aspire to be: commercially successful, culturally relevant, critically beloved, and always having a clear intention to innovate and evolve musically. Her status is evident in her many accolades, which include 28 Grammys, the most for any female artist and four Grammys away from the most for any artist. However, Beyoncé has yet to win a very big one: Album of the Year. This year, with another album in contention, is it finally time for Queen B to win?

While Beyoncé has always been a Grammy favorite, she didn’t get her first Album of the Year nomination until “I Am… Sasha Fierce,” which included the Song of the Year winner “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).” While “Sasha Fierce” didn’t win, it was probably very close, especially since it was Beyoncé’s most pop-friendly record and managed to win Song of the Year against the eventual Album of the Year winner, Taylor Swift.

Beyoncé’s second Album of the Year nomination came for her self-titled record, released to mass acclaim and success in 2013. The album perhaps suffered from not being pop enough, and as such lost the award to Beck’s “Morning Phase,” a very controversial result. Finally, and perhaps most egregiously, Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” lost the top award to Adele’s “25,” which even Adele herself argued was a terrible choice. While “Lemonade” and “Beyoncé” were far and away the most acclaimed in their lineups, their lack of pop crossover appeal probably hurt them; after all, most Grammy voters are disproportionately older white men, especially at the time.

In comes “Renaissance,” Beyoncé’s newest record. It has earned a score of 92 on Metacritic, tying with “Lemonade” as her most acclaimed studio album on the aggregator. “Renaissance” is a great middle ground between artsy Beyoncé and pop diva Beyoncé. At its core, it’s a homage to ballroom culture and Black, queer innovation. But it is essentially a dance album, which makes it more pop-accessible than her previous albums. It was led by the smash hit single “Break My Soul,” which has slowly become one of her biggest hits and claimed two weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100. So “Renaissance” has effectively addressed the two biggest hurdles Beyoncé had with her previous attempts to win Album of the Year: it has a big, pop-crossover hit, and it is a more accessible record to more demographics. Plus those Beyoncé strengths of commercial success and critical adoration.

Another important factor when it comes to Grammy wins is narrative. After two massive Album of the Year losses, many voters will be well aware that Beyoncé is overdue for the top award. Furthermore, this particular record has a compelling internal narrative. It is an album that honors music of the past, something Grammy voters love (see Bruno Mars‘s “24K Magic” and Daft Punk‘s “Random Access Memories”), as well as being unique enough to blend in perfectly with trends of the present. As such, voters would not only be honoring Beyoncé’s career, they’d be honoring the music that Beyoncé is paying tribute to. This last factor also means that a lot of older voters might feel good about rewarding the album.

Last but definitely not least, who else deserves it this year? The only album more acclaimed than “Renaissance” this season is Rosalía’s “Motomami,” which probably won’t have a fighting chance to win. While Adele’s “30” had a big debut last fall, it has failed to remain relevant throughout the season, and Adele already has won this category twice. Then there are other Grammy winners like Harry Styles (“Harry’s House”) and Silk Sonic (“An Evening with Silk Sonic”), but “Renaissance” may be considered more culturally relevant.

There are also commercial hits by Bad Bunny (“Un Verano Sin Ti”) and Taylor Swift (her re-recorded “Red”), but the former may not be able to overcome the language barrier and the latter has enough AOTYs to her name. In short, Beyoncé just feels like the most logical and deserving choice this year. More than 20 years deep into her career, she managed to remind everyone that she is still as solid as ever, and the Grammys will surely feel compelled to finally acknowledge that it is, in fact, her time to win.

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