Heading into the 2023 Grammy Awards Sunday night, Beyoncé was our odds-on favorite to win Album of the Year for her critically acclaimed disc “Renaissance.” The evening’s host, Trevor Noah, even gushed over her awards supremacy throughout the evening, at some points making Queen B herself look a bit uncomfortable. She did take home four trophies, making her the biggest Grammy winner of all time with 33, but lost the night’s biggest prize to Harry Styles‘ “Harry’s House.”
It was a ceremony filled with surprises — Lizzo took down Adele and Styles to win Record of the Year for her smash “About Damn Time.” Perhaps nobody was more shocked on the night than Bonnie Raitt, who won Song of the Year for “Just Like That.” Had Beyoncé won Album of the Year, she would have become just the fourth Black woman to achieve this feat, and the first in 24 years. Furious fans in our music forum said they were “disgusted” by the result and went so far as to say the Recording Academy voters “don’t deserve her.”
SEE 2023 Grammy Awards: Full list of winners in all categories
In 2017 “Lemonade” was predicted to win music’s biggest prize, but it was Adele’s “25” that prevailed. “I can’t possibly accept this award,” the “Hello” singer uttered from the stage. “I’m very humble and I’m very gracious, but my artist of my life is Beyoncé, and the ‘Lemonade’ album was so monumental and so well-thought out and so beautiful and soul-baring. We all got to see another side to you that you don’t always let us see. We appreciate that. All us artists here, we f***ing adore you. You are our light.”
Beyoncé’s other two previous losses in this category came in 2010 when “I Am…Sasha Fierce” lost to “Fearless” by Taylor Swift and in 2015 when “Beyoncé” lost to “Morning Phase” by Beck.
The first Black woman to win Album of the Year was Natalie Cole in 1992. At the 34th Annual Grammy Awards, Cole made history with an album dedicated to her late father, Nat King Cole, “Unforgettable…with Love.” Cole was no stranger to accolades at the time – she was named Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards in 1976 and had a couple of other wins throughout her career for vocal performances. But her tribute album to her father struck gold with Grammy voters who not only named it the best album of the year, they also awarded her single, “Unforgettable,” Record of the Year as well.
Just two years after that glass ceiling had been shattered Whitney Houston took home the night’s highest honor for her undeniable smash album “The Bodyguard.” After breaking sales records across the world it was difficult to deny this soundtrack album was in a class of its own in 1994. It also spawned one of the most successful singles in history, “I Will Always Love You,” which gave Houston two more wins that night for Record of the Year and Best Pop Female Vocal. Houston had been twice nominated for Album of the Year prior to winning – for her debut album, “Whitney Houston” (1986), and the follow-up, “Whitney” (1988). Then after “The Bodyguard” she was nominated again in 1997 for the “Waiting to Exhale” soundtrack. With Beyonce’s nomination this year, she ties Houston as the most nominated Black female artist in this category to date.
SEE Whitney Houston songs ranked: Her 35 Best Hits We Will Always Love
Five years after Houston’s win, Lauryn Hill broke onto the scene with her winning debut solo album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” Many critics considered Hill a total game-changer and cited the album as one of the greatest in music history. Her fusion of R&B and hip-hop, along with her unique voice, impeccable lyrical skills and self-produced tracks allowed her to stand out from the pack on a night that made history for another reason – that entire Album of the Year category was female. She won out over Madonna (“Ray of Light”), Sheryl Crow (“The Globe Sessions”), Shania Twain (“Come on Over”), and the female-led band Garbage (“Version 2.0”). Hill also took home four other Grammy Awards that night including Best New Artist.
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