Terry Crews: Porn addiction ‘messed up my life’

— “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” actor Terry Crews is opening up about his addiction to pornography, which he says “really, really messed up my life.”

In a new series of videos posted to Facebook, the former NFL player says he had to go to rehab for his addiction, which consumed him and threatened his marriage.

“Some people say, ‘Hey, man … you can’t really be addicted to pornography.’ But I’m gonna tell you something: If day turns into night and you are still watching, you probably have got a problem. And that was me,” he said.

CNN Video

Actor speaks out about his porn addiction

A video of actor Terry Crews discussing his pornography addiction has gone viral.

“It changes the way you think about people. People become objects. People become body parts; they become things to be used rather than people to be loved.”

Crews said he kept his porn habit secret from everyone, including his wife. He and singer Rebecca King Crews have been married since 1990 and have five children.

“It affected everything. My wife was literally like, ‘I don’t know you anymore. I’m out of here.’ I had to change,” said the muscled actor, who added that he quit viewing porn six or seven years ago. “I literally had to go to rehab for it.”

Crews revealed his porn addiction publicly in 2014, but his new confessional videos have brought heightened attention to his struggles. His first Facebook video, posted two weeks ago, has attracted almost 3 million views and more than 10,000 comments.

“Thank you so much for this message, Terry. Your honesty humbles me,” said one man on Facebook. “I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs. But I have wrestled for years – YEARS – with pornography. I am grateful today to say that I have a very specific sobriety date and I have stayed clean for some time now. I work at it every day and I do everything I can to remove its power and hold.”

“Thanks for putting this out there and congratulations on finding recovery,” said a female commenter. “This horrible plague killed my marriage. Glad you decided to fight. We need more voices bringing awareness. There is a silent war being fought and the casualties are families and relationships.”

Crews posted two more videos thanking fans for their support and trying to answer their questions.

“Women, you need to be fearless. You need to confront your man about this problem,” he said in the second clip, recorded while he drove around Los Angeles in a convertible. “You cannot accept any pornography in your life.”

In the third video, posted Tuesday, Crews described porn as “an intimacy killer.”

“Every time I watched it, I was walled off. It was like another brick that came between me and my wife. And the truth is, everything you need for intimacy is in your (partner).”

Rebecca King Crews has not referenced her husband’s addiction in any of her recent social media posts. She posted a photo of her and Crews on Instagram last week with the caption “Love my boo!”

Crews, 47, played for six years in the NFL in the 1990s before launching a career as an actor. He has appeared in dozen of movies, including “White Chicks,” “Bridesmaids” and “The Expendables” and its sequels. He also had a recurring role on the TV series “Everybody Hates Chris” and has been featured in several Old Spice commercials.

Last year, Crews made headlines when he said he and his wife had completed a 90-day “sex fast” that left them “more in love.”

Kanye West drops album, says he’s $53 million in debt

— Oh, Kanye West. Wow. Even by your attention-grabbing standards, this was a night to remember. Or maybe to forget.

Let’s see — where do we start?

The talented but polarizing hip-hop artist released his long-delayed album, “The Life of Pablo,” Saturday night after performing two of its songs on “Saturday Night Live.” After wrapping the song “Ultralight Beam,” West announced that the album was available on his website and on Tidal, the streaming service.

His wife, Kim Kardashian, chimed in helpfully on Twitter, saying, “Everyone Go get #TheLifeOfPablo.”

But many fans complained on Twitter about not wanting to having to buy a Tidal subscription to hear the album, while those who went to West’s site were greeted only with an audio message from Yasiin Bey, a stage name for rapper Mos Def.

This came after a tweet from West, sent Saturday night as he waited to go on “SNL,” saying, “I write this to you my brothers while still 53 million dollars in personal debt… Please pray we overcome… This is my true heart…”

It was not immediately clear whether or not he was serious — Twitter was skeptical, and with West, you never know — although the performer did claim a year ago that he was $16 million in debt trying to launch his clothing line.

Then there was the continued fallout over West’s latest spat with pop star Taylor Swift. In his new song “Famous,” West sings, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ Why? I made that bitch famous,” a possible reference to his high-profile interruption of Swift on stage at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.

The lyrics sparked outrage from Swift fans and a statement from her rep condemning the song’s “misogynistic message.”

In a statement sent to Billboard, a CNN content partner, a Swift representative said, “Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single ‘Famous’ on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, ‘I made that bitch famous.'”

Controversy is nothing new for West, who tweeted “BILL COSBY INNOCENT!!!!!!!!!” earlier this month and seems to go off on an epic Twitter rant every few weeks.

But his antics may be wearing thin for some.

Rapper Rhymefest, who has co-written such West songs as “Jesus Walks,” said Friday on Twitter that his sometime collaborator “needs help, in the form of counseling. Spiritual & mental. He should step away from the public & yesmen & heal.”

But West was back at it Sunday, saying on Twitter that Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg should invest $1 billion in his ideas because “he is the greatest living artist and the greatest artist of all time.”


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Once again, #OscarsSoWhite

— Oh, no, not again. For many movie fans, Thursday’s Oscar nominations brought a dispiriting feeling of deja vu.

For the second consecutive year, no minorities were nominated in any of the four acting categories. One year after the critically acclaimed “Selma” was largely snubbed by academy voters, sparking protests, actors and filmmakers of color are again being ignored — and Twitter is not happy.

“It’s actually worse than last year. Best Documentary and Best Original Screenplay. That’s it. #OscarsSoWhite,” tweeted April Reign, an editor who was credited with launching that hashtag in protest after last year’s nominations were announced.

Idris Elba had been expected to score a nomination for his performance as a rebel commander of child soldiers in “Beasts of No Nation,” but he was passed over. Other hopefuls such as “Concussion” star Will Smith, “Creed” star Michael B. Jordan, that movie’s writer-director, Ryan Coogler, and the cast of N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton” also were ignored.

The best original screenplay nomination noted by Reign went to the co-writers of “Compton” — both of whom are white.

Again, #OscarsSoWhite was trending on social media, with some people noting the irony of black comedian Chris Rock presiding over a February 28 ceremony in which no minority actors are honored.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has faced criticism for years that its members, who vote on the Oscars, lack diversity and are out of touch. The Rev. Jesse Jackson led protests at the 1996 Academy Awards over perceptions of racism in Hollywood.

Such complaints ebbed somewhat in recent years, as movies with largely black casts such as “The Help,” “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and “12 Years a Slave” won Oscar recognition.

But protests flared anew last year when the civil rights drama “Selma,” despite widespread praise for director Ava DuVernay and star David Oyelowo, was nominated only for best picture and best original song.


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Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon, famed hoops jester, dies at 83

— George “Meadowlark” Lemon, the basketball star who entertained millions of fans around the world with his antics as a longtime member of the Harlem Globetrotters, died Sunday in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 83.

Lemon played 24 seasons and by his own estimate more than 16,000 games with the Globetrotters, the touring exhibition basketball team known for its slick ball-handling, practical jokes, red-white-and-blue uniforms and multiyear winning streaks against overmatched opponents.

He also was one of a handful of Globetrotters whose fame transcended sports, especially among children during the team’s heyday in the 1960s and 1970s. Lemon was immortalized in a Harlem Globetrotters cartoon series and appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” episodes of “Scooby Doo” and many national TV commercials.

A gifted player whose basketball skills were sometimes overshadowed by his on-court high jinks, Lemon was known for sinking half-court hook shots, throwing behind-the-back passes and pretending to spy on his opponents’ huddles.

Nicknamed the “clown prince” of basketball, he also pioneered a trademark routine in which he doused a referee with a bucket of water and then pranked fans by heaving another bucket — filled with confetti, not water — into the stands as people scrambled to get out of the way.

“For a generation of fans, the name Meadowlark Lemon was synonymous with the Harlem Globetrotters,” Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider said. “He was an incredible entertainer and brought happiness and lifelong memories to millions around the world. We have lost a great ambassador of the game.”

Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, Lemon joined the Globetrotters in 1954 after serving two years in the Army. Over the next quarter-century, he and the team played almost everywhere, from high school gyms to Madison Square Garden to an exhibition in Moscow during the Cold War.

His website says Lemon and his teammates played before popes, kings, queens, presidents and regular basketball fans in almost 100 countries.

After a salary dispute, Lemon left the Globetrotters in 1979 to form his own comedic basketball teams, which performed under the names Meadowlark Lemon’s Bucketeers, the Shooting Stars and Meadowlark Lemon’s Harlem All Stars.

He returned to the Harlem Globetrotters for a 50-game “comeback” tour in 1993.

Lemon was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003. He spent the last several years of his life serving as an ordained minister and motivational speaker.

His death follows that of early Globetrotter player and teammate Marques Haynes, who died in May.


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Internet trolls call new ‘Star Wars’ movie ‘anti-white’

— The haters of the Internet have never met a target they couldn’t denounce. Even “Star Wars.”

While much of the world watches and rewatches the new “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer for clues about the eagerly anticipated movie, a small minority of people have attacked the film’s ethnically diverse casting as “anti-white.”

“#BoycottStarWarsVII because it is anti-white propaganda promoting #whitegenocide,” read a tweet Monday from an account called End Cultural Marxism. The same Twitter user also called J.J. Abrams, the movie’s director, a “Jewish activist” and “an anti-white nut.”

Another Twitter user called for a boycott of the movie “because it’s nothing more than a social justice propaganda piece that alienates it’s (sic) core audience of young white males.”

A flurry of racist tweets included the #BoycottStarWarsVII hashtag, and someone on Monday even set up a @BoycottStarWarsVII Twitter account, although it only had 176 followers Tuesday afternoon.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” features new heroic lead characters — played by Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac — alongside some familiar faces from the original trilogy. Boyega is black, while Isaac has Guatemalan and Cuban ancestry.

It didn’t take long for the trolls on social media to be drowned out by hordes of people mocking them while coming to the defense of the cast and the movie.

Some posts on 4chan, the anything-goes website, claimed the #BoycottStarWarsVII tweets were part of an elaborate trolling campaign to spread shock and outrage, according to Wired.

Some observers found the whole thing a bit ironic, given that the first “Star Wars” movie in 1977 had an overwhelmingly white cast. Although James Earl Jones voiced villain Darth Vader throughout the series, fellow African-American actor Billy Dee Williams didn’t appear as Lando Calrissian until “The Empire Strikes Back.”

” ‘Star Wars’ has never been a bastion of diversity. Lando and Leia were the only nonwhite and nonmale main characters (among the humans, anyway) in the original franchise,” wrote Richard Lawson last year in Vanity Fair.

“George Lucas’s dreadful prequels at least made some attempts at racial diversity, with Samuel L. Jackson and Jimmy Smits playing large roles, though it mostly forgot about women.”

Abrams addressed the issue last summer at San Diego Comic-Con when he responded to a question about diversity in casting by saying, “I think it’s important people see themselves represented in film. I think it’s not a small thing.”

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will open in U.S. theaters December 18.

The movie also stars Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis and Max von Sydow, along with original cast members Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and others in supporting roles.

‘Thrones,’ ‘Veep,’ ‘Kittredge’ big winners at Emmys

— It was a good night for vice presidents, transgendered women, cranky New Englanders and the inhabitants of a mythical world called Westeros.

And it was a great night for HBO.

After five seasons HBO’s epic “Game of Thrones” won its first best-drama award Sunday night at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, besting the final season of four-time winner “Mad Men” in a mild upset. The sprawling medieval fantasy show also won Emmys on Sunday for writing, directing and for supporting actor Peter Dinklage, who plays the scorned scion of a powerful family who is forced to survive by his wits.

In the comedy category, HBO’s “Veep” finally broke the stranglehold of sitcom powerhouse “Modern Family,” which had won the top Emmy for the past five years. “Veep’s” Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her fourth straight Emmy for her starring turn in the show, about an underestimated female vice-president who nevertheless ascends to the Oval Office.

Her castmate Tony Hale won best supporting actor in a comedy series for playing her loyal political aide, and the show also won a writing award.

After eight tries, Jon Hamm finally won his first Emmy for his now-iconic role as the hard-drinking, womanizing Don Draper on “Mad Men,” which finished its triumphant run last spring on AMC.

“There’s been a mistake, clearly,” Hamm said, giving credit to his felow nominees. “It’s impossible to be named with all of those extraordinary gentlemen.”

Moments earlier, Viola Davis made history by becoming the first African American woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama series when she was honored for her work as a high-powered defense attorney in “How to Get Away with Murder.”

In an emotional acceptance speech, Davis quoted African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman and alluded to the dearth of strong roles for minority actresses on TV and movies.

“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity,” she said. “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

Actor Jeffrey Tambor won best actor in a comedy for Amazon’s groundbreaking “Transparent,” about a middle-aged dad who transitions to life as a woman. Tambor, who had been nominated for six prior Emmys but had never won, dedicated his award to the transgender community.

“Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your stories. Thank you for your inspiration,” he said.

His award came after Jill Soloway won an Emmy for directing a comedy series, again for “Transparent.” In accepting the award, Soloway noted that despite recent gains, many transgender people still face discrimination and violence.

“We don’t have a trans tipping point yet,” she said. “We have a trans civil rights problem.”

But the night’s biggest winner may have been “Olive Kittredge,” the acclaimed HBO miniseries about 25 years in the life of an acerbic, retired schoolteacher in a seemingly placid Maine town.

It took home Emmys for best limited series, best actress in a limited series (Frances McDormand, who played the title character), best actor in a limited series (Richard Jenkins, her kindly on-screen husband) and best supporting actor in a limited series (Bill Murray, who didn’t show up to claim his award, unfortunately).

“Kittredge” director Lisa Cholodenko and screenwriter Jane Anderson were also honored.

Earlier, actress Allison Janney won best supporting actress in a comedy for her role in “Mom,” in which she plays the overbearing mother of a young adult daughter played by Anna Faris. It was Janney’s sixth Emmy; she won five times before for “The West Wing.”

The award was presented by Amy Poehler and the ever-provocative Amy Schumer, who quipped, “Let’s not forget what this night is really about — celebrating hilarious women and letting the Internet weigh in on who looks the worst.”

Schumer won an Emmy for best variety sketch series for her Comedy Central show, “Inside Amy Schumer,” which tackles such hot-button topics as misogyny and female sexuality. “This show fights for what we believe in,” Schumer said.

It was also a good night for retiring fake-newsman Jon Stewart, whose “The Daily Show” won Emmys for best variety talk series and for its director, Chuck O’Neill.

The show opened with host Andy Samberg in a video that poked fun at TV’s overabundance of buzzed-about shows. After being mocked by friends for not keeping up with popular new series, Samberg locks himself in a bunker and watches nothing but TV for a year until he emerges, hairy and wild-eyed, to annoy everyone around him.

Samberg then did a brief monologue in which he cracked jokes about diversity in Hollywood, Paula Deen on “Dancing With the Stars” and — perhaps inevitably — presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump is running for president, to the delight of uncles everywhere,” Samberg said.

During Sunday’s three-hour show the Television Academy handed out awards in 25 categories, culminating with the night’s two biggest prizes: outstanding comedy and drama series. For those keeping score, HBO led all networks with 126 nominations (HBO is a unit of Time Warner, as is CNN). Far behind in second was ABC with 42, followed by CBS and NBC with 41 each.

The Television Academy announced new rules this year that allows all 15,000 academy members, not just smaller groups, to vote for awards — a change some observers believe benefited shows with large fan bases such as “Game of Thrones.”


™ & © 2015 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

America’s transgender moment

— It’s only April, but 2015 may be remembered as the year the term “transgender” fully entered mainstream consciousness.

In January, President Obama condemned the persecution of “people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,” becoming the first president to utter the word in a State of the Union address.

“Transparent,” about an aging father who begins living as a woman, won two top awards at the Golden Globes, while transgender actress Laverne Cox of “Orange is the New Black” — who made the cover of Time magazine last year — was just cast in a new CBS drama.

The May issue of Vogue has a photo spread with transgender model Andreja Pejic, who said on Instagram this week that she “was told by various people many times over that the chances of me ending up on these pages were slim to none.” A transgender character had a recurring storyline on the just-wrapped final season of “Glee,” while transgender activist and YouTube star Jazz Jennings will star in a reality show debuting on TLC this summer.

And then there’s Bruce Jenner, whose physical appearance has become more feminine in recent months amid reports — yet to be confirmed or denied by him — that the Olympic hero turned reality TV star is exploring a very public gender transition.

We’ll learn more Friday night, when Diane Sawyer’s long-awaited interview with Jenner — conducted in February — airs on ABC.

Whatever Jenner says it’s clear that transgender people, long relegated to society’s shadows, are finally stepping into the light.

“We are at a social inflection point on transgender issues,” says Riki Wilchins, a former transgender activist and author of three books on queer theory, who believes all the attention could have a positive impact. “Civil rights for minorities come in fits and starts. We’re on an upswing now.”

Defining gender fluidity

Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity — their internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman — differs from what’s typically associated with their sex at birth. Some transgender people alter their bodies through hormones and or surgery, although many don’t.

A 2011 study estimated that 700,000 American adults, or roughly 0.3% of the population, identified themselves as transgender.

For decades, trans people, as many transgender people like to be called, rarely saw themselves represented in popular culture. But recent years have brought the “Dancing with the Stars” contestant Chaz Bono; filmmaker Lana Wachowski, formerly known as Larry Wachowski, a co-director of “The Matrix”; Jared Leto’s Oscar-winning role in “Dallas Buyers Club”; and of course, “Orange is the New Black,” whose cast is a mix of ethnicities and sexualities.

Now, between “Transparent” and other shows, recognition from Obama and tabloid headlines about Jenner, the national conversation around gender identity appears to have reached a new level.

All this makes transgender advocates cautiously optimistic.

Hayden Mora, deputy chief of staff at the Human Rights Campaign and a transgender man, remains hopeful that the growing number of transgender faces beaming weekly into America’s living rooms can only have a positive effect.

“I believe that the more people who know transgender people, the more they will understand, accept and support us,” Mora says. “That happens only if they acknowledge our humanity, and not treat us like tabloid fodder.”

Persecution and violence

Still, activists agree there is still a long way to go before transgender people stop facing discrimination or worse.

For relatives and friends who are used to seeing someone as male or female, gender changes can be hard to accept. Transgender people have long been misunderstood and persecuted — as recently as 2012, the American Psychiatric Association classified them as having a mental “disorder.”

A recent report by the Human Rights Campaign found that transgender people in the United States are more likely to face discrimination from employers and the effects of unemployment and poverty. Many also are denied services from safety-net providers such as emergency shelters.

A poll last year found that 59% of Americans believe transgender students should use the bathroom of their birth gender.

In December, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that transgender people will receive federal protection from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But violence against trans people — especially transgender women of color — remains a national plague. According to recent statistics from the Human Rights Campaign, at least 13 transgender women were slain last year in the United States and at least seven have already been killed this year. Of those 20 victims, all but one were black or Latina.

“We are definitely in a critical moment for the trans movement. Over the last year we have … seen an increase in visibility that was unimaginable even just a few years ago,” said Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center. “At the same time it is clear that visibility is not enough.”

In one case that made national headlines, a transgender Ohio teen committed suicide in late December after her parents refused to acknowledge her wish to live as a girl.

“Transgender people are still subject to profound discrimination and violence,” said Wilchins. “Greater acceptance is really needed, and long overdue.”

The Jenner question

So what impact might Bruce Jenner’s story have on all this?

Of course, nobody but his family and ABC know exactly what Jenner will say Friday. Jenner has kept a low profile in recent months, and promos for his interview reveal little beyond him saying, “My whole life has been getting me ready for this.”

CNN’s repeated attempts to get comment from Jenner, his agents and his mother have gone unanswered.

Gender-rights activists, noting that Jenner hasn’t yet explained his private life, are reluctant to speculate.

Some fear the media firestorm around Jenner, fueled by his ties to the camera-loving Kardashian clan, trivializes what is a wrenching personal journey for many people.

“You want to wish Bruce the best. But at the same time, you wish it wasn’t being played out for reality-TV entertainment,” said Wilchins, the gender-rights advocate. “Yes, it’s great that we’re educating people. But we’re talking about a civil rights issue that keeps getting recast as entertainment.”

As a much-hyped TV event, the Jenner interview could give millions of viewers their first exposure to gender-identity questions and put a sympathetic human face on an issue that remains perplexing to many people. But it could also trigger a backlash, some say.

Amy Stone, associate professor of sociology and anthropology at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, fears Jenner could provoke those who already are averse to gay or transgender people.

Such people “tend to use these moments to frighten the general public, relying on fears about trans women in bathrooms or locker rooms,” said Stone, author of numerous books about queer politics and culture. “Usually these moments tap into pre-existing panics about gender or sexuality, not necessarily spawning new ones.”

Which leaves everyone waiting to see what Jenner will reveal — and how the world will react.


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How did Beck beat out Beyonce?

— No, Beck, you’re not a loser. But some people think you should have been.

In Sunday night’s biggest surprise, Beck’s downbeat “Morning Phase” nabbed the Grammy for album of the year — eclipsing darling-of-the-moment Sam Smith, who collected four Grammys, and pop queen Beyonce, whose latest, self-titled album was a critical and commercial smash.

The announcement, by presenter Prince, seemed to stun the audience and even Beck himself. Kanye West briefly crashed the stage in what appeared to be mock protest but then said Beck “should’ve given his award to Beyonce.” Beck later said he expected Beyonce to win.

On social media, some younger people were even wondering aloud: Um, who is Beck?

Here’s why the scruffy singer-songwriter’s upset win was so surprising — and why it wasn’t:

Beck’s record didn’t make a big splash

Released in February 2014, “Morning Phase” got strong reviews but quickly sank off the charts. None of its singles got mainstream radio play. Billboard ranked it as the 60th top-selling album of the year — behind Mary J. Blige’s Christmas album.

While critics praised the record’s melancholy beauty, some saw it as a sequel of sorts to his 2002 album “Sea Change” and not a groundbreaking artistic statement.

But all the Grammy love — “Morning Phase” also won best rock album — has sparked renewed interest in an artist many may have forgotten. According to Spotify, streams of Beck’s music have increased 388% since the Grammys.

He hasn’t been a commercial force for two decades

“I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me …

Remember that song? No? “Loser” came out in 1994, when Beyonce was 12 years old and Sam Smith was still in diapers. The song hit the top 10 in the U.S. and was followed in 1996 by a popular album, “Odelay,” and such modest hits such as “Where It’s At.”

Critics and alternative-music fans have long admired Beck’s obvious talents — he can play almost any musical instrument — and his experimental blends of folk, rock, blues, hip-hop and psychedelia. But his cultural relevance seemed to be fading by the late ’90s.

“The most complete album of the bunch is ‘Morning Phase,’ ” wrote Bay Area music critic Jim Harrington in making his 2015 Grammy predictions, “yet it feels 10 to 15 years too late to hand this trophy to Beck.”

Beyonce is a global icon in her prime

The most-nominated woman in Grammy history, Beyonce is much more than a photogenic pop icon with strong pipes and a famous husband. She makes great music.

Released without warning in December 2013, “Beyonce” was a bold, personal statement about love, sex and the challenges of a monogamous relationship. It was the No. 2 top-selling record of the year and drew widespread critical acclaim for its dark, intimate themes and accompanying videos.

The Grammys often reward strong album sales, and most prognosticators thought Beyonce was overdue to claim her first album-of-the-year prize. A win by Smith in this category would not have been a surprise, either.

The Grammys have a history of surprises

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, who vote on the Grammys, are an unpredictable bunch.

The academy declines to release a breakdown of its 13,000 voter-eligible members by age, race or gender. But like the group that votes on the Oscars, the Recording Academy is seen by some critics as being old and out of touch with edgier contemporary music, especially when it comes to rap and hip hop.

In 2005, they snubbed Kanye West’s “College Dropout” and Green Day’s “American Idiot” and handed album of the year to “Genius Loves Company,” a collection of duets between blues legend Ray Charles and other singers. It was a sentimental choice; Charles had died the previous year.

Three years later, they overlooked Kanye again, awarding the top-album prize to aging jazz-pop pioneer Herbie Hancock over West’s “Graduation” and Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black.”

So in that context, a Grammy for Beck, 44, over Beyonce, 33, and Smith, 22, isn’t a total shock.