Beyoncé sets a new Grammy record, while Harry Styles wins album of the year
Updated February 6, 2023 at 12:53 AM ET
Beyoncé has now captured more Grammy awards than any other artist, thanks to a quartet of trophies for her album RENAISSANCE. Two-thirds of the way into the evening's live telecast, she won her fourth award of the year for a total of 32 in her career, shattering the record for the most Grammys of any artist in the prize's 65-year history.
However, she failed to collect any of the evening's biggest prizes. Instead, the Grammys divided the general categories in a typical voting split. Bonnie Raitt won the song of the year prize for "Just Like That." Lizzo took record of the year for "About Damn Time." Album of the year went to Harry Styles for his album Harry's House. He also won best pop vocal album. "This is so kind," Styles said of the album of the year award, as Beyoncé gave him a standing ovation.
Coming into this year's awards, Beyoncé already owned 28 Grammys as a lead artist, though only one in the one of the awards' general categories. She had nine nominations this year, and hit the new record just after 7 p.m. PT, when she won best electronic/dance music album. She cried upon taking the stage, saying, "I'm just trying to receive this night." Later, she gave credit to her forebears and inspiration, adding: "I would like to thank the queer community for your love, and for inventing the genre," referring to the house music that grounded RENAISSANCE.
Faced with years of declining and middling viewership, the Grammys hoped to amp up the dazzle this year via this bit of history-making. What the Record Academy had clearly hoped would be an earlier, big live television moment was foiled by urban sprawl. Half an hour into the show, Beyoncé — who was reportedly late to the awards thanks to LA traffic — tied the all-time record for most Grammys won when she and a team of co-writers won best R&B song for "Cuff It." The iconic musician and composer Nile Rogers, one of the co-writers on "Cuff It," accepted the award for best R&B song on the team's behalf along with another of its co-writers, The-Dream. The previous Grammy record of 31 wins was a feat set by the late Hungarian-born classical conductor Georg Solti.
Several of the other nine contenders for album of the year had to be satisfied with other awards. At the beginning of her acceptance speech for her win for record of the year for "About Damn Time," Lizzo said, "Let me tell you something, Adele and I are just having a great time here." (Adele took home took home best pop solo performance for her song "Easy on Me.") Lizzo also paid tribute to Beyoncé, noting that she had skipped school in fifth grade to go hear the megastar perform.
Kendrick Lamar took home the Grammy for best rap album for his Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers; during the afternoon ceremony, Lamar also picked up Grammys for best rap performance and best rap song, both for "The Heart Part 5." "I would like to thank the culture for allowing me to evolve," he said in an acceptance speech in which he also thanked his family and fans. "I finally found imperfection with this album."
Another artist up for album of the year, Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny, opened the show with a colorful performance of songs from his album Un Verano Sin Ti, weaving in and out of the seated audience alongside brass band members before making his way to a dance party on stage for a medley that captured the vibrant, infectious energy of the hit album. Un Verano Sin Ti dominated streaming services last year and won the rapper the prize for best música urbana album. "I made this album with love and passion and when you do things with love and passion, everything is easier — life is easier," he said in English while accepting his award.
In a throwback to a very particular kind of Grammy-voter favorite, the gifted young jazz vocalist Samara Joy won the award for best new artist. The 23-year-old cried through her whole acceptance speech, marveling that she won one of the Grammy's biggest prizes "just by being myself."
One of the strongest performances of the night came in the form of a star-studded, comprehensive tribute to the history of hip-hop that followed a new "Dr. Dre Global Impact award," given to the namesake artist himself by rapper LL Cool J. Organized by Questlove, the performance brought together some of the greatest names in hip-hop to honor the genre's 50th anniversary this year. The set chronicled the entire history of rap, featuring early pioneers like Run-DMC, Rakim, Public Enemy and Salt-N-Pepa, all the way up to current viral stars like GloRilla.
"We wish we could have included every single hip-hop artist from 1973 to 2023," LL Cool J said.
The show's "In Memoriam" segment, honoring musicians and industry professionals who died in the last year, featured performances by Kacey Musgraves, Migos' Quavo and Mick Fleetwood. The night featured multiple tributes, including Stevie Wonder honoring Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson by playing Motown hits including The Temptations' "The Way You Do The Things You Do" and "Tears of a Clown" alongside Robinson.
The night was filled with a number of excellent live performances, from longtime Grammy favorites to newcomers to the stage. Brandi Carlile, who took home three awards for best Americana album, best rock performance and best rock song, returned to the Academy's stage for a stirring rendition of "Broken Horses," introduced to viewers by her wife and two daughters.
Steve Lacy, who took home his first Grammy award earlier in the evening for best progressive R&B album for Gemini Rights, proved his TikTok hit "Bad Habit" as magnetic a live performance as it has become in viral videos, performing the funky hit in heels alongside Thundercat on bass.
A brand-new honor called best song for social change was given to Iranian musician Shervin Hajipour for his protest song "Baraye," which was written in solidarity with Iran's "Woman, life, freedom" movement, and gained worldwide fans on social media. Hajipour was unable to attend the ceremony, as he has been banned from leaving Iran while he awaits trial; the award was presented by First Lady Jill Biden.
Biden also presented the award for song of the year to Bonnie Raitt, who looked shellshocked to win this year's prize for songwriting; she had been up against other writers such as Beyoncé, Lizzo, Steve Lacy, Kendrick Lamar and Adele. "I don't write a lot of songs," said Raitt.
In another history-making moment, 2023 marked the first time that either an openly non-binary person or an openly transgender woman won a Grammy. Both glass ceilings were smashed when Sam Smith and Kim Petras were awarded best pop duo/group performance for their song "Unholy." (Musician Wendy Carlos won three Grammys in 1970 for her album Switched-On Bach, but she was not yet living publicly as a woman at that point.)
"Sam graciously wanted me to accept this award because I'm the first transgender woman to win this award," Petras said in her speech. "I want to thank all the incredible transgender legends before me so I could be here tonight," she added, shouting out the late trans pop artist SOPHIE in her speech, as well as Madonna and her mother for inspiration. After winning the award, the pair put on a fiery, provocative performance with Smith dressed up as a horned devil, playing off of the sinful imagery of their hit single.
At the so-called Grammy "premiere" show, or pre-telecast ceremony, the Recording Academy handed out nearly 80 awards. Among that sprawling array of prizes, actress Viola Davis became an EGOT — the proud possessor of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards — Sunday afternoon when she won a Grammy for the audiobook version of her memoir, Finding Me.
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
An earlier version of this story reported that Lizzo won song of the year for "About Damn Time." She won record of the year.