Harry Styles' win at the Grammys for album of the year inspired strong reactions during and after the ceremony.
While Styles walked to the stage, people within the Crypto.com Arena were heard shouting “Beyoncé!” Beyoncé, who made Grammys history earlier on that evening by racking up the most wins ever, was favored to win for her album “Renaissance.” While she is the most decorated artist of all time, she has yet to receive the award for album of the year.
As debate over Styles’ win goes on, a single line from his acceptance speech has also been close-read and scrutinized by online commentators.
“This is so, so kind. This doesn’t happen to people like me very often,” he said. “This is so, so nice. Thank you very, very much.”
Online commenters zeroed in on Styles' mention of “people like (him),” suggesting that he was not acknowledging his privilege as a white man with that line. Commenters pointed out that the majority of album of the year Grammy winners have been cisgender white men like Styles.
TODAY has reached out to Styles’ team for comment.
“‘This doesn’t happen to people like me often’ who, white british men?” one person wrote on Twitter.
“Harry styles said ‘this doesn’t happen to people like me very often’ and I gotta be honest I can’t think of a type of people this happens for more,” another person tweeted.
People pointed out that Grammy wins do happen to people who are "like him" in a few privileged categories. Meanwhile, a Black woman hasn’t won in the category since Lauryn Hill in 1999.
“Harry Styles- ‘this doesn’t happen to people like me very often’ when a Black woman hasn’t won that award since 1999 is wild,” another person tweeted.
Clearly, confusion about what Styles really meant, as this tweet points out: “can harry styles elaborate what he means by “this doesn’t happen to people like me very often” like cough it up, what do you MEAN?” another person wrote.
Styles hasn’t clarified on what he meant like “people like me.” However, British journalist Elle Hunt shared one possible explanation.
“To a UK ear, when Harry Styles says ‘things like this don’t happen to people like me’ — this is what he means,” she wrote on Twitter, linking to a Vice article she had written about the prevalence of "nepo babies" in the United Kingdom with the headline, “American Nepo Babies Have Nothing on the British.” Nepo baby is a term used to describe someone who benefited from their parents' proximity to the entertainment industry. The article argues that the U.K.’s entertainment system is more entrenched in nepotism than the U.S.’s due to class privilege.
Styles is not the child of industry-connected parents who could give him a leg up in the music industry. In a 2017 profile for Rolling Stone, Styles shared that his father worked in finance and divorced his mother when he was 7 years old.
Backstage, Styles was asked how he felt about his win, in light of Beyoncé having been favored to take the night’s biggest prize.
“You never know with this stuff,” he said in a Twitter video shared by Variety. “I don’t think you can look at any of the nominees and not feel like they’re deserving. I feel like when you look, when I look at this category, it’s all people who have inspired me at different times. It’s not like you’d understand anyone winning, and, yeah, I’m really grateful that they chose us. Thank you.”