Beyoncé made history at the 2023 Grammy Awards on Sunday, becoming the first person ever to win 32 of the Recording Academy’s shiny gramophones. But just one of those 32 awards has come in a Big Four category (album, record and song of the year plus best new artist). It happened on the 2010 telecast, when Bey won song of the year for co-writing her dance smash “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”
Beyoncé has been nominated in Big Four categories 18 times. That means she’s had to politely smile as someone else walked up to accept a Big Four award that she was nominated for 17 times. In 2017, she famously lost the three top awards to Adele. In 2001, she and her Destiny’s Child colleagues lost two of the top three awards to U2. In 2021, two of her singles lost to a Billie Eilish hit.
It’s hard to feel too sorry for an artist who has won more Grammys than Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Prince and Elton John combined. And yet, the fact that Beyoncé has a 1-17 track record in the Big Four categories – which are by far the most closely watched and prestigious – is galling to the Beyhive, and to many others who believe it shows that Beyoncé (and Black artists in general) are undervalued by the Academy.
That said, she has twice lost to other Black artists in Big Four categories. Two years ago, “Black Parade” lost song of the year to H.E.R.’s BLM anthem “I Can’t Breathe.” This year, “Break My Soul” lost record of the year to Lizzo’s jubilant “About Damn Time.”
Here’s a closer look at every time Beyoncé was nominated in a Big Four category. The dates shown are the dates of that year’s Grammy telecast.
Feb. 21, 2001
Destiny Child’s “Say My Name” was nominated for both record and song of the year. It lost to U2’s “Beautiful Day” in both categories.
Feb. 8, 2004
Beyoncé’s first solo smash, “Crazy in Love” (featuring Jay-Z) was nominated for record of the year. It lost to Coldplay’s “Clocks.”
Feb. 10, 2008
“Irreplaceable,” Beyoncé’s longest-running No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 (10 weeks), was nominated for record of the year. It lost to Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.”
Jan. 31, 2010
For the first time, Beyoncé was nominated in each of the top three categories. As noted above, she won song of the year for co-writing “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” “Halo” was nominated for record of the year but lost to Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody.” I Am…Sasha Fierce was nominated for album of the year but lost to Taylor Swift’s Fearless.
Feb. 13, 2011
For the first and so far only time, Beyoncé was nominated for album of the year as a featured artist on another artist’s album – Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster. The two stars collaborated on the smash “Telephone.” The album lost to Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs.
Feb. 8, 2015
Beyoncé, her longest-running No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 (three weeks), was nominated for album of the year, but lost to Beck’s Morning Phase. Beck had lost in his first two nominations in the category (for Odelay and Midnite Vultures). Beyoncé fans still felt she was robbed.
Feb. 12, 2017
For the second time, Beyoncé was nominated in each of the top three categories. She lost all three awards to Adele. Her “Formation” lost record and song of the year to Adele’s power ballad “Hello.” Her Lemonade lost album of the year to Adele’s 25. It was the U.K. megastar’s second time sweeping all three awards – an unprecedented accomplishment. Adele couldn’t have been more generous in accepting album of the year, all but conceding that Beyoncé should have won it.
March 14, 2021
For the first time, Beyoncé had two record of the year nominations in the same year: She was nominated for both her solo single “Black Parade” and “Savage,” her Hot 100-topping collab with Megan Thee Stallion. Billie Eilish won the award for the second year in a row, this time for “Everything I Wanted.” “Black Parade” was also nominated for song of the year, but lost to H.E.R.’s BLM protest song “I Can’t Breathe.”
Feb. 5, 2023
For the third time, Beyoncé was nominated in each of the top three categories. “Break My Soul” lost record of the year to Lizzo’s “About Damn Time” and song of the year to Bonnie Raitt’s “Just Like That.” Renaissance lost album of the year to Harry Styles’ Harry’s House.