Beyoncé broke every rule about what she could and was supposed to release with BEYONCÉ. She created an album with 14 songs and 17 videos in secret and gave it to the world with no press tour, endless teaser singles, or any fanfare at all. This alone is unheard of. The fact that she is a black woman doing things that would prove difficult even for white men in the music industry is truly remarkable. That alone is enough reason to award BEYONCÉ Album of the Year. Further, the album is sonically, lyrically, visually, and politically daring. Aside from 2 (possibly 3) more traditionally commercial songs, the album consisted of sounds and vocals we have never heard from Beyoncé — or anyone else for that matter — before. It drew on music and themes of the past and pushed them to places we didn’t know they could go. That’s what great art does. And Beyoncé’s spectacular art literally stopped the world. As she said on Nicki Minaj’s “Feeling Myself”: “Changed the game when that digital dropped / Know where you was when that digital popped / I stopped the world / Male or female it makes no difference / I stopped the world / World stop…Carry on.”
And Beck released a perfectly fine album. But at the end of the day, that is all Morning Phase was. Fine. And Beck is a white man, so that means his perfectly fine music gets elevated to savior status. That’s not to say Beck hasn’t released great music in the past - he has. But despite being lauded by pretentious music critics everywhere, Beck’s Morning Phase was kind of a mid-tempo snooze. Beyoncé makes music and historic moments that stop the world; and Beck makes music that might very well put the world to sleep.