Harry Styles betrayed his boy band roots Sunday night when his Album of the Year Grammys speech seemed like it was heading in one direction, but suddenly took a sharp turn south.
The “Sign of the Times” singer ended a pretty standard acceptance speech by saying: “This doesn’t happen to people like me very often.”
That remark rubbed some viewers the wrong way, considering he was up against the likes of the Puerto Rican-born Bad Bunny and Beyoncé — whose respective wins would have signified the first Spanish-language album to win the award or the first Black woman to win the award since 1999.
To many, a white artist winning the coveted award felt like just another instance of the Recording Academy’s tendency to praise and maintain the status quo.
It probably doesn’t help that the Recording Academy’s membership is only 31% women and 33% from “traditionally underrepresented communities,” according to the organization.
“‘This doesn’t happen to people like me’ is the most white privilege-iest thing to ever be uttered at an awards show ever for all time,” Vulture podcast host and former NPR journalist Sam Sanders tweeted shortly after Styles’ speech.
Other Twitter users agreed:
Although it’s unclear what Styles meant by “people like me,” many of his fans assumed he meant someone who began their career in a boy band.
Styles’ representation did not respond to a request for comment.
Although Beyoncé struck out once again on the coveted award, she certainly didn’t go home empty-handed. She became the first Black woman to win the Best Dance/Electronic Album Grammy for her critically-acclaimed 2022 album “Renaissance,” while also becoming the artist with the most Grammy Award wins ever.
Yet her repeated defeat in the Album of the Year category — in which she’s been nominated four times — continues to baffle music lovers due to her albums’ undeniable cultural significance.
This includes fellow artist Adele.
In 2017, when Adele’s album “25” beat Beyoncé “Lemonade” for Album of the Year, the “Someone Like You” singer famously rejected the accolade during her acceptance speech.
“I can’t possibly accept this award, and I’m very humbled and I’m very grateful and gracious, but my artist of my life is Beyoncé and this album, to me, the ‘Lemonade’ album, was so monumental, Beyoncé,” Adele said during her speech. “You are our light. And the way that you make me and my friends feel, the way you make my Black friends feel, is empowering. You make them stand up for themselves and I love you. I always have and I always will.”