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Why Critics Are Trying to Cancel Harry Styles for His Grammy Acceptance Speech

It's not just because he beat out Beyoncé.

Sunday night's Grammy Awards included some historical moments but also courted unexpected controversy. After Beyoncé broke the record for most Grammy wins by any artist in history, it seemed likely that she would also win the biggest award of the night, Album of the Year—a category that she's never won before—for her album Renaissance. But, that Grammy went to Harry Styles for his third solo album, Harry's House.

It wasn't just Styles win over Beyoncé that led to instant backlash on social media. Critics of the 29-year-old singer are also furious about one thing he said in his acceptance speech. Read on to find out what happened.

READ THIS NEXT: 30 Artists Who Haven't Won Grammys.

Styles triumphed over other major stars.

Lizzo at the 2023 Grammys
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Styles won two awards at the 2023 Grammys: Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. For Album of the Year, he was nominated alongside ABBA, Adele, Bad Bunny, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Coldplay, Kendrick Lamar, and Lizzo.

Beyoncé's loss in this category was particularly significant, because she won four other awards for Renaissance and songs from the album and broke the record for most wins by an artist ever. The music icon has also never won Album of the Year, a fact of which her fans are very aware. The last time she was nominated for the award (in 2017 for Lemonade), Adele won and declared in her speech that the award should have been Beyoncé's. The first two times she was nominated for the award, it went to Taylor Swift and then to Beck.

Beyoncé fans are disappointed.

Beyoncé at the 2023 Grammys
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

After Beyoncé lost the award, fans and Grammy viewers spoke out on Twitter. Some pointed specifically to the fact that she has repeatedly lost to white artists.

"beyoncé losing album of the year to taylor swift, beck, adele and now harry styles. that's qwhite interesting," wrote one Twitter user. Another posted, "Harry's album don't even compare to Beyoncé's. Grammys hate black women so bad."

To some fans, Beyoncé stands head and shoulders about other artists. "to me, it's not about whether or not harry is good. he makes music, sometimes it's good. it's about the fact that beyoncé's commitment to her art is greater than anyone of her peers and it continues to be overlooked. and if *she* can't win, then…" a Twitter user posted. Someone else said, "There is literally no valid reason why Harry deserved that AOTY award over Beyoncé. None."

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Styles' speech didn't go over well with everyone.

Some viewers took issue with Styles' Album of the Year acceptance speech. Toward the end, the artist said, "This doesn't happen to people like me very often." Many people questioned what he meant by that, since he's a white man who is hugely successful.

"Harry when you said 'people like me' in your speech, what did you mean?" reads one tweet. "I really love you but you're a white European man. People like you win this awards ALL THE [expletive] TIME."

Another person wrote, "'This doesn't happen to people like me often' @Harry_Styles. We beg to differ, Harry. Mediocre white men get glamourized, rewarded and awarded over exceptionally talented, amazing Black women like @Beyonce all day, every day. Case in point is this AOTY win."

Another tweet reads, "This was a very good and kind speech until he said 'this doesn't happen to people like me very often' because… eh, Harry, my love — you are, above all, a white man."

Styles' fans defended him.

Harry Styles at the 2023 Grammys
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Styles' fans have pointed out that the "As It Was" singer often says the "people like me" line when thanking fans on his tours. They interpret this to be in reference to his background, being that Styles is from a working class family and had no connections in the music industry prior to coming to fame on The X Factor.

Some fans were even excited at the possibility that he'd give the speech, even before he won the award: "when harry does his 'things like this don't happen to ppl like me' speech tonight when he wins my sobs will be heard from all around the world," one Twitter user said.

Another fan wrote, "harry was literally so speechless that he just started reciting the hslot [Harry Styles Love on Tour] thank you speech with the 'this doesn't happen to people like me' and only we really know how much it all means to him."

He addressed the Beyoncé snub in the press room.

As shown in a video posted by Variety, Styles was asked backstage after his win if he had expected Beyoncé's name to be called.

"You never know with this stuff," he responded . "I don't think you can look at any of the nominees and not feel like they're deserving. When I look at this category, it's all people who have inspired me at different times."

Similarly in his acceptance speech, Styles said, "I've been so, so inspired by every artist in this category with me at a lot of different times in my life. I listen to everyone in this category when I'm alone. I think on nights like tonight it's obviously so important for us to remember that there's no such thing as 'best' in music."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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