We never doubted Beyoncé. Never. Doubt. Beyoncé. She's the queen.
She added one jewel to her crown at Sunday's 65th annual Grammy Awards — she became the all-time winner with 32 trophies but, in her fourth try as a finalist, she failed to snare the elusive album of the year.
Harry Styles, the former boy-band star, captured album of the year for "Harry's House," his '80s-styled synth pop collection featuring the smash "As It Was," a vulnerable confessional about loss and loneliness.
The 29-year-old tried to sound magnanimous, saying, "There is no such thing as best in music. We don't make decisions in the studio thinking we're going to get one of these."
When Beyoncé broke the record, snagging the best dance recording prize (her fourth trophy of the night), she was overcome but calm. "I'm trying not to be too emotional. I'm trying to just receive this night." She thanked God, her late uncle, her parents, husband and children and saluted "the queer community for your love and for inventing this genre."
Lizzo, who won record of the year for "About Damn Time," gave a nod both Beyoncé and Prince. The flute-playing singer-rapper, who launched her career nearly a decade ago out of Minneapolis, said when Prince died in 2016 she decided to make positive music. Then she turned the light on Beyoncé. Saying she skipped school to go see the superstar perform ("It was literature class"), she proclaimed: "You clearly are the artist of our lives."
As for other prominent winners, Grammy veteran Bonnie Raitt, who doesn't write a lot of material, earned song of the year for penning "Just Like That," a powerful tune based on a true story of an organ transplant connecting two families struck by tragedies. "I'm so surprised," she announced. "This is such an unreal moment."
Best new artist went to jazz vocalist Samara Joy, 23, who was simply overjoyed. She mentioned that she'd been watching the Grammys for years and she is so inspired by all the artists in the audience because they speak "so authentically" with their music.
But the Grammys, which stretched well beyond the scheduled 3½ hours, are more about performances than trophies.
How about Bad Bunny, the Puerto Rican singer/rapper who sold more albums and tickets than anyone in 2022, opening the long evening with a two-song medley in Spanish of "El Apagón" / "Después de la Playa"? At least the energy, attitude and percussive- and horn-fueled festiveness translated.
How galvanizing was "Higher Ground" by Motown legend Stevie Wonder and country star Chris Stapleton?
How cool was Styles, dressed in spangly fringe from neck to ankle, delivering the synth bop "As It Was" backed by a tuxedo-clad band and dancers in street clothes?
How heart-tugging were Raitt's and Sheryl Crow's vocals on "Songbird," a salute to Fleetwood Mac's late Christine McVie?
How red-hot were Sam Smith and Kim Petras on the devilish presentation of "Unholy"? They were introduced by a who-could-recognize-her Madonna.
Not all performances connected. Introduced by her wife and their two daughters, Brandi Carlile seemed overamped in both senses of the word on the loud rocking "Broken Horses," a record that led to two Grammys. For a change, Lizzo, who typically dazzles with spectacle, seemed underproduced in a medley of "About Damn Time" and "Special," during which she was accompanied by a gospel choir. Not the usual specialness of Lizzo.
Quick-witted, music-loving comic Trevor Noah, in his third consecutive year as host, showed that he has more superlatives in his vocabulary than previous host James Corden, who calls everything "brilliant." Noah's best line was when Beyoncé arrived late and he told her, "I was shocked traffic could stop you. I thought you traveled through space and time." But in a Grammy misstep, the producers had a roundtable of fans discussing their choices for album of the year. What an unnecessary ploy to drag out an already too-long show.
Despite some memorable performances, many of the key competitors for the big trophies — conspicuously Beyoncé, who recently performed in Dubai for a reported king's ransom, and Adele, who is continuing her postponed Vegas residency — didn't perform. So much for music's biggest night.
It was showbizzy, to be sure, with Adele and Lizzo sitting at the same table (must have been reserved for mononyms), and Jennifer Lopez in the audience cheering for fellow Puerto Rican Bad Bunny.
This time, the Grammys made a big effort to be more inclusive during the televised ceremonies, presenting awards for musica urbana, dance music/electronica and rap, as well as honoring hip-hop mogul Dr. Dre with a special award and devoting a 13-minute segment to recognize the 50th anniversary of hip-hop with a quick-changing medley by more than two-dozen stars, including the fiery Chuck D, Ice-T, LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes with his machine-gun flow (they could have superimposed performer names for the uninitiated).
The Grammys may have set a new standard for giddiness during the pre-telecast.
A Grammy pro with six previous trophies in country and Americana categories before Sunday, Carlile was over the moon to win for best rock performance and rock song for "Broken Horses." As she climbed up the steps to the stage, she threw up some devil horns.
"It's rock 'n' roll, man!" she proclaimed with a wide smile. "I can't tell you how much this means."
Later, she picked up the prize for best Americana album for "In These Silent Days."
"It means everything to win in Americana, which is my community," she said, still beaming but less excitable.
Excitable wouldn't begin to describe the reaction of Wet Leg, a new duo from England's Isle of Wight. Astonished may be more apt. In the pre-telecast, they grabbed back-to-back trophies for best alternative music performance and album for their self-titled debut album.
"This is so funny," Rhian Teasdale said with a giggle. "What are we doing here? I don't know. But here we are. This year has been such a surprise."
Other award winners were unexpected and, of course, excited. The Tennessee State University Marching Band won for best roots gospel album for "The Urban Hymnal" — a first for a college group. The winners talked about being underfunded. "We're here with our pockets empty," said Sir the Baptist, holding the trophy, "but our hands aren't."
Also unprecedented was a youth orchestra, New York Youth Symphony, triumphing for best orchestral performance, for their debut album. "This is for young people everywhere," said conductor Michael Repper. "One of the most important things we do at the Recording Academy is to look out for the next generation."
One recipient was a seasoned veteran, Viola Davis, who counts an Oscar, Tony and Emmy in her trophy case. She grabbed a Grammy in the audio book, narration and storytelling recording category, for her 2022 memoir, "Finding Me."
"I wrote this book to honor the six-year-old Viola — her life, joy, trauma. I just EGOT!" she blurted, becoming the 18th recipient of all four prestigious show-biz prizes.
There were some other Grammy firsts this year.
Petras, in accepting the trophy for best pop group/duo performance for "Unholy" with Smith, proudly pointed out that she was the first transgender Grammy winner.
The first trophy for the redefined best poetry/spoken word category went to Chicago poet J. Ivy, who thanked his English teacher for making him do a poetry show 30 years ago this month.
Tobias Jesso Jr. won the inaugural Grammy for songwriter of the year, for his work with Adele, Harry Styles, Omar Apollo and FKA twigs, among others.
The first ever Grammy for social change went to "Baraye," a protest anthem by Iranian artist Shervin Hajipour.
Veteran rocker Edgar Winter picked up his first Grammy, for best contemporary blues album, for "Brother Johnny" — 50 years after his first (and only previous) nominations.