It didn't take long after the 59th Annual Grammy Awards for the hashtag #BeyonceGotRobbed to start trending. Not only that, but #GrammysSoWhite, modeled after #OscarsSoWhite, also picked up steam, beginning the inevitable debate that the real reason Beyoncé lost to Adele in the category of Album of the Year had to do with racism.
Even Adele herself questioned the verdict, asking, "What the f**k does Beyoncé have to do to win the Album of the Year?" During her speech, Adele also said that she could not "possibly accept this award" and went on to explain that Beyoncé's Lemonade was "[her] Album of the Year," even going as far as to call Beyoncé "[her] artist of [her] life."
Now, in the wake of the Grammys snub, the Academy has succumbed to pressure from fans and artists alike to address accusations of racism.
While social media isn't going to agree with the Recording Academy's commentary any time soon, especially looking at the history of the winners of Album of the Year, the committee presses that the Grammys do not have a race problem.
"No, I don't think there's a race problem at all," Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, shared with Pitchfork.
"Remember, this is a peer-voted award," he elaborated. "So when we say the Grammys, it's not a corporate entity — it's the 14,000 members of the Academy. They have to qualify in order to be members, which means they have to have recorded and released music, and so they are sort of the experts and the highest level of professionals in the industry."
The Academy's members are made up of people who are artists, writers and other music industry professionals who have either released several recordings or have been nominated themselves for a Grammy within the past five years.
"It's always hard to create objectivity out of something that's inherently subjective, which is what art and music is about," Portnow continued. "We do the best we can. We have 84 categories where we recognize all kinds of music, from across all spectrums. We don't, as musicians, in my humble opinion, listen to music based on gender or race or ethnicity.
"When you go to vote on a piece of music — at least the way that I approach it — is you almost put a blindfold on and you listen," the Recording Academy's president added. "It's a matter of what you react to and what in your mind as a professional really rises to the highest level of excellence in any given year. And that is going to be very subjective. That's what we ask our members to do, even in the ballots. We ask that they not pay attention to sales and marketing and popularity and charts. You have to listen to the music."
He then pressed that the voting process could truly be influenced by one single vote.
"So somebody could either receive or not receive a Grammy based on one vote," he concluded. "It could be that tight."
Naturally, Portnow then looked at the example of Chance the Rapper, who won Best New Artist of the Year, explaining that wouldn't have happened if the Academy's members weren't diverse and "with the times," so to speak.
"You don't get Chance the Rapper as the Best New Artist of the year if you have a membership that isn't diverse and isn't open-minded and isn't really listening to the music, and not really considering other elements beyond how great the music is," he concluded.
So there you have it. Take a look at what fans on Twitter had to say about the Grammys snubbing Beyoncé, as well as other criticisms calling out the awards show for racism, in the posts below.
Either the Grammy's have racism issues OR there hasn't been a talented enough Black women to win since 1999. You pick. #BeyonceWasRobbed— Crooked Butters 2.0 (@ButtersV2) February 13, 2017
White mediocrity always prevails. #GrammysSoWhite 😒😏— Oliver Almojuela (@_foxboogie_) February 13, 2017
#GrammysSoWhite for the fifth time in a row, a so-so white artist has won Album of the Year over a deserving Black artist.— Muva Mikey (@Mikey_Talks) February 13, 2017
(Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS)