‘Harry’s House’ win shows no desire for Grammys to diversify

The Grammys has always favored white English voices


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Harry Styles, who recently won Album of the Year at the Grammys, performs at a concert.

Caroline Mederos, Staff Writer

The 2023 Grammys showed promise for increasing diversity in the music industry. However, the repetitive selection of white voices over minorities once again allowed important projects to be overshadowed. This year’s losses were especially devastating because of the potential the Grammys had to break the mold.

Despite many waiting for the Album of the Year results — the last to be called — with bated breath, the result turned out to be underwhelming. Another white man with an album in English brought home the trophy. I enjoy Harry Styles’ music and thoroughly enjoyed the album itself, but choosing a pop album against such culturally important albums exposes the Grammys’ performative diversity attempts. The other albums in that category, such as Beyonce’s “Renaissance,” spoke to the Black queer community and Bad Bunny’s “Un Verano Sin Ti” was a love letter to Puerto Rico and Latin America as well as the first ever Spanish language album to be nominated for the Album of the Year award. Bad Bunny, or Benito Ocasio Martínez’s, nomination gave hope that there could be room for something new. What better album to overcome this hurdle than something as culturally impactful as “Un Verano Sin Ti”? Bad Bunny’s incorporation of Latino instrumentation and styles represented Latin America’s current musical state while also innovating the future of reggaetón. The album’s cultural significance isn’t the only reason it should be noticed — it not only ended 2022 on the Billboard Global Top 200 chart, but it was also number one on the Independent Albums chart for 37 weeks.

The repetitive selection of white voices over minorities once again allowed important projects to be overshadowed. This year’s losses were especially devastating because of the potential the Grammys had to break the mold.

The album’s impact on global audiences further emphasizes its importance regardless of listeners’ language. Bad Bunny revolutionized how many thought of reggaetón. Though he was not the first reggaetón artist to break boundaries in America, I believe this album broke down the door in America to increase the presence of Spanish language songs because it refused to conform to the American audience. The album stays true to Bad Bunny’s roots, and he caters to the audience most dear to him: Puerto Ricans. The album is a tribute to the importance of his heritage and what being Latino means to him. It’s a deeply personal project that earned a large appreciation from not only Latino communities but global ones.

Martínez’s desire to stay true to his heritage is further evident in his performance at the Grammys. His performance of songs that spoke specifically to Puerto Rico in their sound and lyrics and his refusal to accommodate Americans through language showcase his commitment to his roots. The subtitles for this performance, however, showed viewers that the Grammys had no desire to capture lyrics in Spanish or English and rather just displayed “Singing in Spanish” throughout his entire performance. The least the Grammys could have done is displayed the Spanish lyrics to the audience. 

The Grammys’ disappointments beg the question of whether the artist’s opening performance was a desperate publicity stunt to earn Latino viewers or a genuine effort to diversify. While we may only speculate the answer to this question, the mere presence of it in the minds of many indicates the continuing theme of Eurocentrism when it comes to award shows. 

Another album that I think was a worthy winner of the award was Beyoncé’s “Renaissance,” which was extremely important for the Black queer community. Though I am less familiar with this album, there’s no doubt in my mind that its impact should make it a prominent contender in this category. 

This album highlights an important and overlooked group, the Black LGBTQ+ community. By creating an album specifically for this group, Beyoncé uses her platform to create music that these specific listeners can identify with. It’s an album that departs from the intensely political themes of some of her previous albums, creating a lighter tone but still leaving an unforgettable impact on listeners. 

If Beyoncé had won, she would have been the first Black female artist to win a Grammy for Album of the Year since 1999. Though Black men have been more successful in the Album of the Year category in recent years, only 11 Black artists have won this award. The lack of diverse voices winning in this category illustrates the bias the Grammys have and the dominance of white voices and storytelling through music. 

Though this article may seem like a long rant about my favorite artist not winning the Album of the Year award, it illustrates a more important picture. The Grammys has always favored white English voices and been intolerant of other perspectives. There is a whole world of music out there that’s not only globally popular but provides viewpoints and experiences beyond that of Eurocentrism. By not awarding and spotlighting these voices, the Grammys and those behind it show that they don’t value diversity. These albums were immensely important for their communities and broke boundaries, but they continue to lose to less impactful albums. Overshadowing these works furthers the white presence, shielding viewers of these award shows from voices of minority communities with intersectional identities.