You can’t give out 91 awards without some snubs and surprises – and the 65th annual Grammy Awards, held on Sunday (Feb. 5), had plenty of both.
For the second time in three years, no artist won in more than one Big Four category. Harry Styles’ Harry’s House took album of the year, Lizzo’s “About Damn Time” won record of the year, Bonnie Raitt’s “Just Like That” claimed song of the year, and Samara Joy won best new artist.
In the past 25 years, there have been only three other years where no artist won in more than one Big Four category. This same four-way split occurred at the telecasts in 2004, 2010 and 2021. Sweeps, or at least mini-sweeps, in the Big Four categories have generally been the rule in recent years.
Beyoncé and Maverick City Music were the night’s top winners with four awards each. Brandi Carlile, Kirk Franklin, Kendrick Lamar and Raitt were close behind, with three each.
One of the biggest surprises this year didn’t pertain to awards: It’s that only one of the four artists with the most nominations this year (Carlile) performed on the telecast. Beyoncé, who led the pack with nine nods; Lamar, who finished second with eight; and Adele, who tied with Carlile with seven nods, all declined invitations to perform.
Trevor Noah hosted the Grammys for the third year in a row. But it’s the first time he’s hosted them in their usual home, Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, the result of pandemic-triggered changes the last two years.
Here are the biggest snubs and surprises of Grammy night 2023.
How can you possibly say the Academy snubbed Beyoncé when she won four awards and set a new all-time record as the most awarded person in Grammy history with 32 career wins? Because she once again came up empty in the Big Four categories. Only one of Beyoncé’s 32 wins has come in a Big Four category – when she won song of the year for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” 13 years ago. She has gone 0-4 in album of the year and 0-8 in record of the year.
Surprise: Samara Joy
This was a wide-open field, with no obvious winner such as last year’s winner Olivia Rodrigo or the 2020 champ Billie Eilish. Latto and Maneskin were seen as the front-runners, with many other artists (Anitta, Omar Apollo, Muni Long, Molly Tuttle and Wet Leg) thought to be fairly close behind. Instead, the award went to Joy, one of the artists who was thought to be lucky just to be nominated. Of course, people thought that about another talented jazz singer, Esperanza Spalding, 12 years ago and she wound up winning too.
Surprise: Bonnie Raitt
Raitt won three Grammys, including song of the year. It’s the first time the veteran artist has gone home with multiple awards since 1992, when she also won three awards. Raitt’s tender and beautifully written song has yet to crack the Billboard Hot 100. It beat six songs that topped the chart, including songs by Adele (a two-time winner in the category) and Taylor Swift (who has received a record-tying six nominations in the category without yet winning).
Snub: DJ Khaled
DJ Khaled performed “God Did,” which was a surprise song of the year nominee, on the telecast. But he went 0-6 for the night. Jay-Z, who was featured on “God Did,” went 0-5 on the night. Of course, that’s not as bad as Jay’s Grammy night five years ago when he went 0-8 on the night, prompting him to write the memorable “Apeshit” lyric, “Tell the Grammy’s f**k that 0-for-8 shit.”
Surprise: Maverick City Music
This ensemble is one of the top acts in contemporary Christian and gospel music, so it’s not a surprise they did well, but who expected them to sweep four awards, tying Beyoncé for the night’s lead? They did just that, sharing three of those awards with gospel great Kirk Franklin.
Surprise: Willie Nelson
The country legend won best country album for A Beautiful Time, beating albums by four of today’s hottest country artists – Luke Combs, Miranda Lambert, Ashley McBryde and Maren Morris. Nelson won a second award on the night, best country solo performance for “Live Forever.”
Snub: Mary J. Blige
The queen of hip-hop soul also went 0-6 on the night. Blige shouldn’t give it a second thought. Last year, Justin Bieber went 0-8 on the night, Billie Eilish went 0-7 and Giveon went 0-6. It happens. Blige has won nine Grammys and a Primetime Emmy. Five years ago, she became the first person ever to receive Oscar nominations for acting and songwriting in the same year. She’ll be fine.
Surprise: ‘Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story’
Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story, credited to Various Artists, won for best music film, beating titles by five superstar artists – Adele, Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish, Rosalia and Neil Young & Crazy Horse. The New Orleans Jazz Festival is legendary, but those artists are all top-tier.
Snubs: Björk and Diana Ross
These veteran artists were nominated for the 16th and 13th time, respectively, but lost again. Neither has ever won a competitive Grammy. Ross has received two lifetime achievement awards from the Academy – one solo in 2012 and one with The Supremes just this year, but a competitive award has eluded her. This year, Thank You was nominated for best traditional pop vocal album, but lost to Michael Buble’s Higher (his fifth win in the category). Björk’s Fossora was nominated for best alternative music album, but lost to Wet Leg’s eponymous debut album.
Surprise: Germaine Franco
Franco’s Encanto score won best score soundtrack for visual media, beating Hans Zimmer’s score for No Time to Die. This marked a reversal of fortune from last year’s Oscars, where No Time to Die won best original score, beating Encanto. (Jonny Greenwood’s score for The Power of the Dog was also nominated at both shows.)
Most expected The-Dream to be the inaugural winner of the new songwriter of the year, non-classical award. When Tobias Jesso Jr. was announced as the winner, he began his speech by saying “I thought it was The-Dream for sure.” The-Dream didn’t go home empty-handed. He won two awards for his work with Beyoncé.
Surprise: Madison Cunningham
The talented artist won best folk album, beating two legendary stars in the format whose careers date to the 1960s, Judy Collins and Janis Ian. Cunningham, 26, won for her third studio album, Revealer.
Surprise: Edgar Winter
The veteran artist, who topped the Billboard Hot 100 50 years ago with the instrumental “Frankenstein,” finally won his first Grammy for best contemporary blues album. He won for Brother Johnny, dedicated to his older brother Johnny Winter, who died in 2014. Both brothers were born with albinism, characterized by the partial or complete absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. On this night, it was fodder for a good-natured quip. “It’s a pleasure to be up here representing skin-tone diversity,” Winter said.