Who is Beck, the man behind the 2015 Album of The Year 'Morning Phase'?

Many, including Kanye West, were surprised Beck won the Grammy for album of the year. But that doesn't mean he doesn't deserve it.

John Shearer/Invision/AP
Beck performs at the 57th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015, in Los Angeles.

It was a surprise to most observers when Beck beat out Beyoncé and Sam Smith for album of the year at the Grammys Sunday night in Los Angeles – particularly to those who had never heard of him.

Don’t feel bad. Even Beck himself was surprised, given the competition. With Beyoncé’s revolutionary digital album drop and Sam Smith’s otherwise incredible luck at the Grammys, no one expected “Morning Phase” to win album of the year, or even necessarily best rock album.

So who is Beck?

Beck is an experimental singer songwriter who rose to fame in the early ‘90s and has since produced 12 studio albums. The folksy album “Morning Phase” is a companion record to his previous album “Sea of Change,” both of which are more mellow than his typical style – if there is even anything typical about his music.

If you don’t know his music, the songs “Loser,” “Where It’s At,” “Girl,” or “Modern Guilt” are all good places to start. Not all of his music is as easy a listen, but these tracks are all accessible.

However, through his oddity, Beck has done some prolific things throughout his career.

In 2012, Beck released his album “Song Reader” entirely in sheet music, hoping that other artists would create their own interpretations of his music. They did, and two years later a compilation of “Song Reader” covers was released.

Beck has also contributed to numerous soundtracks and collaborated with several other artists. Most recently, he worked with fellow Grammy nominee Sia on “Moonquake Lake,” which was featured on the soundtrack for the 2014 film “Annie.”

While he does not frequent the "Billboard Top 100" like his competitors for album of the year, the Recording Academy has thought well of him for years.

He has been nominated for 16 Grammys throughout his career, including two previous nominations for album of the year for “Odelay” and “Midnight Vultures.” He has won three Grammys in addition to the two he picked up Sunday night: Best Rock Vocal Performance for “Where It’s At” and Best Alternative Music Performance for “Odelay” and  “Mutations.”

Kanye West, however, did not seem to think that he was as deserving.

As a surprised Beck received his Grammy, West mounted the stage, mocking the time that he, embarrassingly, intervened on Beyoncé’s behalf when Taylor Swift beat her out for a Grammy in 2009. But Kanye wasn’t entirely kidding this time. "You all know what it meant when 'Ye walks on the stage," he said in an interview with E! after the show.

"If they want real artists to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us," West said. "Flawless Beyoncé video, and Beck needs to respect artistry, and he should have given his award to Beyoncé."

Beck handled the whole situation well.

In an interview with US Weekly after the ceremony, Beck said, "I thought she was going to win. Come on, she's Beyoncé! ... You can't please everybody, man. I still love [West] and think he's genius. I aspire to do what he does.”

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.