2025 Grammys: Why Beyoncé’s ‘Cowboy Carter’ is the Front-Runner for Album of the Year. p.1

The album, acclaimed by both fans and critics, will likely compete against Taylor Swift’s new LP at the music awards show next year

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 04: Beyonce supports Jay-Z as he accepts the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award during the 66th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena on February 04, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.

Beyoncé at the Grammy Awards in February 2024 in Los Angeles. PHOTO: KEVIN MAZUR/GETTY

Beyoncé deserves to finally lasso herself an album of the year win.

Late last month, the music superstar, 42, released her eighth studio album, Cowboy Carter, which serves as the second installment in a planned trilogy of albums following 2022’s Renaissance.

The LP, like many of Beyoncé’s works, blends a diverse mix of musical genres, and it is conceptualized as a radio broadcast by the fictional KNTRY Radio Texas, with country superstars Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Linda Martell acting as disc jockeys.

The 27-track album features collaborations with big names including Miley Cyrus and Post Malone — plus Beyoncé’s 6½-year-old daughter Rumi — as well as those from lesser-known Black country artists such as Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy, Reyna Roberts, Shaboozey and Willie Jones. Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Nile Rodgers, Jon Batiste, Gary Clark Jr. and Rhiannon Giddens, meanwhile, perform instruments on various tracks.

Looking at the album now, and looking ahead to the 2025 Grammy Awards, Nicholas Rice, a Senior News Editor for PEOPLE, highlights why Beyoncé deserves to take home the coveted album of the year honor for Cowboy Carter.

Beyonce - 'Cowboy Carter'.

Beyoncé’s ‘Cowboy Carter’ album cover.BEYONCE INSTAGRAM

Beyoncé has been nominated for album of the year four times over the past two decades — in 2010 for I Am … Sasha Fierce, in 2015 for Beyoncé, in 2017 for Lemonade and in 2023 for Renaissance. (The nominees for the 2025 Grammys will be announced sometime later this year, following the eligibility period, which runs from Sept. 16, 2023, through Aug. 30, 2024, per Billboard.)

Beyoncé’s latest project has received universal acclaim from both fans and critics, who praised the star’s expansion into the country genre.

On Metacritic, a website that collects reviews of media through reviews from sources such as magazines and websites, Cowboy Carter scored an impressive score of 92/100 based on 20 critic reviews.

Rolling Stone, for example, praised the LP as having “Beyoncé’s best vocal work on record,” adding that the album was “produced flawlessly.” Variety, meanwhile, called Cowboy Carter a “masterpiece of sophisticated vocal arranging,” also describing it as “a 27-course meal” that is “difficult to describe in whole, but endlessly easy to digest, serving by serving.”

Beyonce accepts the Innovator Award at the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards held at the Dolby Theatre on April 1, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.

Beyoncé at the iHeartRadio Music Awards on April 1, 2024 in Los Angeles.MICHAEL BUCKNER/BILLBOARD VIA GETTY

The Bey Hive — as Beyoncé’s loyal legion of fans are collectively known — also have had high praise for the superstar and her latest musical project.

“The vocals on cowboy carter are INSANE. do not ever play with my sister!!!!” wrote one user on X (formerly Twitter).

“COWBOY CARTER IS SO GOOD I’M LITERALLY SCREAMING CRYING THROWING BEYONCÉ IS WINNING AOTY NEXT YEAR I’M CALLING IT,” said one other, as another fan added, “Cowboy Carter is really Beyoncé’s best album.”

“Cowboy Carter is such. an. insane. flex. If this doesn’t finally get Beyoncé AOTY…” one more fan wrote.

Beyonce New York 02 15 24

Beyoncé in New York City in February 2024.METROPOLIS/BAUER-GRIFFIN/GC IMAGES

While many praised Cowboy Carter for its impressive vocals, creative concept and clear flow, Beyoncé was also celebrated for stepping into what is seen by many as a heavily white genre as a Black woman.

In the LP’s first track, “American Requiem,” the mother of three reminds listeners of her country roots growing up in Texas, singing, “Used to say I spoke too country / And the rejection came, said I wasn’t country ’nough / Said I wouldn’t saddle up, but / If that ain’t country, tell me what is?”

Martell, 82, who begins “Spaghettii,” touches upon the idea that artists can only be limited to certain subjects, stating ahead of the tune, “Genres are a funny little concept, aren’t they? / In theory, they have a simple definition that’s easy to understand / But in practice, well, some may feel confined.”

Beyoncé not only highlighted her ability to be a musical chameleon with this project, but also used her space to uplift other Black artists, allowing them to showcase their own vocal abilities and stories while illustrating how music truly sees no color.

Beyonce attends the Atlantis The Royal Grand Reveal Weekend, a new ultra-luxury resort on January 21, 2023

Beyoncé at the Atlantis The Royal Grand Reveal event in Dubai in January 2023.MASON POOLE/PARKWOOD MEDIA/GETTY

But the music icon still knew that not everyone in the entertainment scene — or larger world, for that matter — would be as accepting or welcoming of her trying to stray from the boxes that she has been put into throughout her career.

In a past Instagram post, Beyoncé thanked fans for their early support of Cowboy Carter and detailed how it came to be. According to the star, the project was five years in the making and was “born out of an experience that I had years ago where I did not feel welcomed.” (Many fans speculated the event Beyoncé was referring to was the 2016 CMA Awards, where she performed her country tune “Daddy Lessons” off her album Lemonade alongside The Chicks.)

“And it was very clear that I wasn’t,” Beyoncé continued. “But, because of that experience, I did a deeper dive into the history of country music and studied our rich musical archive. It feels good to see how music can unite so many people around the world, while also amplifying the voices of some of the people who have dedicated so much of their lives educating on our musical history.”

She added, “The criticisms I faced when I first entered this genre forced me to propel past the limitations that were put on me. act ii is a result of challenging myself, and taking my time to bend and blend genres together to create this body of work.”

Beyonce and The Chicks perform during the 50th Annual CMA Awards, hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, broadcasts live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Wednesday, November 2, 2016.

Beyoncé and The Chicks perform at CMA Awards in November 2016 in Nashville.IMAGE GROUP LA/DISNEY GENERAL ENTERTAINMENT CONTENT VIA GETTY

And with that, Beyoncé knew she had a story to tell, and Cowboy Carter was released on March 29.

It eventually broke several chart records and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, which marked Beyoncé’s eighth consecutive No. 1 album. (It was also the first album by a Black woman to top Billboard‘s Top Country Albums chart.)

Spotify later announced on social media that Cowboy Carter became the platform’s most-streamed album in a single day in 2024 so far.

The LP also earned the title of most streams of a country album by a female artist on Amazon Music, and it also had the biggest debut on the streaming platform, the company revealed on social media.

Beyonce performs onstage during the "RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR" at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on August 11, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia

Beyoncé on tour in August 2023 in Atlanta.KEVIN MAZUR/WIREIMAGE

Beyoncé initially surprised fans by announcing her new album during the 2024 Super Bowl in early February.

At the time, the singer appeared in a Verizon commercial, in which she joked about her internet-breaking abilities. She then posted the trailer for her new album on Instagram, sending fans into a frenzy.

After the viral announcement, Beyoncé dropped two singles from the album, “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages.”

“Texas Hold ‘Em” eventually hit No. 1 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart, which allowed Beyoncé to make history as the first Black female artist to ever reach the top spot there.

Beyonce attends the London premiere of "RENAISSANCE: A Film By Beyonce" on November 30, 2023

Beyoncé at a premiere in November 2023 in London.KEVIN MAZUR/WIREIMAGE

Despite the success of the two singles, Beyoncé fans were still left mostly in the dark about Cowboy Carter, which, at the time, was referred to simply as Act II, given that the singer had yet to reveal the LP’s name.

But, weeks before the album was set to drop, Beyoncé revealed the title by simply adding it and the release date to her Instagram bio and posting a shot of a saddle with a red, white and blue sash that read “Cowboy Carter” on her Instagram Stories.

Not long after, Beyoncé then revealed the album’s official artwork — a photo of herself wearing a red, white and blue outfit on a horse and holding up an American flag.

The album cover is reminiscent to that of the one she chose for Renaissance, which features her sitting on top of a luminous horse.

Beyonce performs onstage during the "RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR" on September 01, 2023 in Inglewood, California.

Beyoncé on tour in September 2023 in Inglewood.KEVIN MAZUR/WIREIMAGE

Beyoncé Becomes First Black Woman to Hit No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart with Cowboy Carter

Earlier this year at the 2024 Grammy Awards, JAY-Z was honored with the 2nd annual Dr. Dre Global Impact Award — in recognition of his musical legacy — and used his acceptance speech to call out the organization that honored him in defense of his wife.

Questioning the process behind the voted categories, the rapper, 54, said, “We want y’all to get it right. At least getting close to right. And obviously it’s subjective … because, you know, it’s music, and it’s opinion-based.”

Then, seemingly referring to Beyoncé, he continued, “I don’t want to embarrass this young lady, but she has more Grammys than everyone and never won album of the year. So even by your own metrics, that doesn’t work. Think about that. The most Grammys, never won album of the year. That doesn’t work.”

While there is still plenty of time ahead of the 2025 Grammys, and before Beyoncé will potentially even lock in a nomination for the album of the year category, it’s clear that the universal acclaim, Beyoncé’s dedication to her craft and her fearlessness to step into any musical territory prove her worthy of finally clinching the long overdue honor.

And yet, even if she doesn’t, Beyoncé will continue to shine, as she points out on one of the tracks on Cowboy Carter, singing: “A-O-T-Y, I ain’t win (That’s cool) / I ain’t stuntin’ ’bout them / Take that s— on the chin / Come back and f— up the pen.”

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