The British pop singer was announced as the winner of the Album of the Year award over Beyoncé, who was widely tipped as the favourite with her critically adored record Renaissance.
Styles himself addressed the surprise backstage after it was suggested by a reporter that Beyoncé should have beaten him to the prize.
The 65th Grammys was held on Sunday 5 February at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, with Taylor Swift, Harry Styles and Adele among the stars in attendance. On the red carpet, “over the top” was the order of the day, with outlandish outfits worn by Lizzo, Sam Smith, Styles and Cardi B.
Comedian Trevor Noah returned to host the ceremony for the third time running. While he’s no stranger to the political, he chose to keep things light on this occasion, with the exception of a brief reference to the ongoing Chinese “spy balloon” row in the US.
“My job is to be your eyes and ears,” he told the audience during his opening monologue. “Think of me like a Chinese spy balloon. This is the room where it all goes down!”
Performances came from Puerto Rican artist Bad Bunny and UK singer Styles. Arguably the most memorable was an all-star tribute to 50 years of hip-hop, with a medley of classics delivered by Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Nelly, Queen Latifah, Method Man, Future, Grandmaster Flash, Questlove, Run-DMC, Salt-N-Pepa, The Roots and more.
And while the overarching mood of the ceremony was one of community, one singer didn’t seem to get the memo.
Upon learning that pianist Robert Glasper had won Best R&B Album over him, Chris Brown appeared to go on a rampage via his Instagram Stories. “Who the f*** is Robert Glasper,” he demanded, adding: “Ima keep kicking y’all ass! Respectfully.”
The Independent reached out to Brown’s representatives for comment.
Unlike the controversial musician, Adele, Styles, Lizzo and Beyoncé managed to keep it together when veteran star Bonnie Raitt walked away with one of the night’s top prizes, Song of the Year.
No one was more shocked than Raitt herself, as she took to the stage to accept the trophy from presenter Jill Biden.
“This is just an unreal moment, thank you for honouring me,” Raitt said.
Still, until this point, the audience seemed convinced that the night belonged to Beyoncé. The Renaissance artist made history by becoming the Grammys’ most-decorated artist with a total of 32 wins, surpassing the previous record set by late composer Georg Solti.
Accepting her fourth award of the night, for Best Dance/Electronic Ablum, the 41-year-old said: “I’m trying not to be too emotional. I’m trying to just receive this night.
“I want to thank God for protecting me... I’d like to thank my uncle Johnny who is not here but he is here in spirit.
“I’d like to thank my parents, my father, my mother, for loving me, for pushing me. I’d like to thank my beautiful husband, my beautiful children who are watching at home.”
She added: “I’d like to thank the queer community – you invented the genre.”
The historic award was presented by TV host James Corden, who said it was an “honour” to be given the duty.
“We are witnessing history tonight,” he said, before announcing the result.
Meanwhile, singer Kim Petras became the first trans woman to take home the prize for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, thanks to her viral hit “Unholy” with British singer Sam Smith. Their chart-topping collaboration claimed the award on Sunday night, with German vocalist Petras thanking other trans performers who came before her.
“Sam, I love you so much and this song has been such an incredible journey for me,” she said after taking to the stage with Smith.
Petras also thanked the “transgender legends” who had “kicked open the doors”, along with Madonna, for her support of LGBTQ+ artists.
It crowned a successful week for Smith after the singer, who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, scored their third number one with new album Gloria.
They previously said the album “feels like a coming of age” and helped them “through some dark times”.
Despite history being made within the first two hours of the ceremony, the night was far from over. Jazz musician Samara Joy scooped the Best New Artist trophy, while an emotional Lizzo was announced as the Record of the Year winner with her hit single “About Damn Time”.
Accepting the Album of the Year award, Styles said that “there was no such thing as best” and that he had been inspired by all the other artists in the category.
“S***, well s***,” he began.
“I’ve been so, so inspired by every artist in this category with me, and a lot of different times in my life I’ve listened to everyone in this category when I’m alone.
“On nights like tonight, it’s so important to remember there’s no such thing as best.
“This is so kind, this doesn’t happen to people like me very often and it’s so nice.”
Styles’ win will likely be dubbed controversial after Beyoncé was last snubbed for Album of the Year in 2017, when the prize went to another Adele for her third album 25.
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