Chloe x Halle have been passed over by the Recording Academy for a second time. The music duo, consisting of sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey, had an exceedingly successful breakout year following the release of their sophomore album, Ungodly Hour, in June 2020. And yet, fans were unpleasantly surprised on Sunday when Chloe x Halle received not one win at the Grammy Awards.
The nominations should have been an early warning sign: Chloe x Halle were notably absent from the famed “Big Four” categories, including album of the year and song of the year. They were also snubbed from the R&B album category, which infamously only featured male performers. (To quote the poet Teyana Taylor, “All I see is d*ck in this category.”) Instead, Chloe x Halle received nominations for best progressive R&B album, best traditional R&B performance, and best R&B song, and we now know they did not win any of the three.
It’s important to make it clear that fans are not asking for something unearned. As more-seasoned artists struggled to stay relevant this last year, Chloe x Halle mastered the at-home performance, delivering flawless looks, visuals, and vocals. Ungodly Hour was a staple of music critics’ year-end lists, and “Do It” seemed to be the soundtrack of every passing vehicle that breezed on by last summer. What more must be done to earn Recording Academy recognition? For many Black artists, it seems nothing is ever enough.
Here’s some perspective and context: since the show’s inception in 1959, only 10 Black artists have won the top album of the year honor. The number of Black women on that list? Three: Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston, and Lauryn Hill.
Here’s some more: Nas just got his first Grammy. After a storied career and 13 prior nominations, the rapper’s King’s Disease won the award for best rap album. In 2021. The Weeknd just announced he would be boycotting the Grammys in perpetuity after the academy seemingly forgot After Hours was a thing. (And what a thing it was! It got him a damn Super Bowl performance! “Blinding Lights” is the first song to spend an entire year in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100!)
Frank Ocean has similarly said he will no longer submit his music for consideration. “I think the infrastructure of the awarding system and the nomination system and screening system is dated,” he told The New York Times in 2016. “I’d rather this be my Colin Kaepernick moment for the Grammys than sit there in the audience.” There’s also Beyoncé’s contentious history with the award show, and though she was the most-nominated artist this year, she chose to not perform.
For now, Chloe and Halle seem to be taking it in stride. “What an honor it was to be nominated 3 times this year,” Halle wrote on Instagram. Thanking her sister, she added, “I am forever grateful to create work with the genius that you are, and that we get a chance to be acknowledged by our heroes.” Chloe, meanwhile, shared a video to her Instagram Stories that can only be described as unbothered. “She might have lost, she might have lost, but check out this hair,” she said, letting out a perfect tongue-out chuckle.