Harry Styles said 'this doesn't happen to people like me very often' while accepting his Grammy for album of the year, an award that white men have won 32 times

Harry Styles said 'this doesn't happen to people like me very often' while accepting his Grammy for album of the year, an award that white men have won 32 times
Video harry styles grammys speech
  • Harry Styles won album of the year for “Harry’s House” at the 2023 Grammys on Sunday.
  • “This doesn’t happen to people like me very often,” he said during his acceptance speech.
  • The comment sparked confusion among viewers, many of whom noted that white men win Grammys quite often.

Harry Styles made a comment that raised eyebrows while accepting album of the year at the 2023 Grammys.

The 29-year-old British star took home the top prize on Sunday for “Harry’s House,” his third solo album.

“On nights like tonight, it’s obviously so important for us to remember that there is no such thing as ‘best’ in music. I don’t think any of us sit in the studio thinking, making decisions based on what is gonna get us one of these,” he said during his acceptance speech, gesturing to his trophy.

“This is really, really kind. I’m so, so grateful,” he continued, adding, “This doesn’t happen to people like me very often.”

It’s unclear what Styles meant by “people like me” — former members of a boy band, perhaps, or people who grew up without connections to the music industry. But given the Recording Academy’s history of favoring white artists, the comment sparked mild backlash online. (A representative for Styles did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.)

In the 65-year history of the Grammys, only 11 Black artists have won album of the year.

White men — including bands and duos fronted by white men — have won nearly half the time, beginning with the Cleveland-born composer Henry Mancini in 1959. Styles is the 33rd white man to accept the award, following artists like Beck (2015), Daft Punk (2014), and Mumford & Sons (2013).

Many viewers were particularly confused by the comment given Styles’ diverse competition for the award.

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Beyoncé, who has been nominated for album of the year four times, has never won; a Black woman hasn’t won since Lauryn Hill in 1999. Kendrick Lamar has similarly lost all four of his bids for the Grammys’ top prize.

Additionally, Bad Bunny’s “Un Verano Sin Ti” made history this year as the first all-Spanish album to be nominated for album of the year. Only a couple of Latino artists have ever won, including the Mexican-American legend Santana (2000) and Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto (1965).

“As artists from so many marginalized groups are fighting so hard to be properly recognized and represented in the industry’s mainstream, for a good-looking cis white man — who’s spent nearly his entire career at the top — to claim any kind of underdog or outsider status doesn’t quite track,” Andrew Unterberger wrote for Billboard.

Unterberger notes this is especially true “when a Black woman like Beyoncé — who’s been around for decades longer than Styles, performing at a consistently sky-high commercial and artistic level — still can’t get through that door.”

Styles received four additional nominations this year, including record and song of the year for “As It Was,” but lost to Lizzo and Bonnie Raitt, respectively.

In addition to album of the year, he won best pop vocal album for “Harry’s House.”

You can see a full list of the nominees and winners here.