House music has a strong presence in the Grammy nominations this year and the original creators in this historically underground genre are not mad about it.

In the record of the year category, Beyoncé’s “Break My Soul,” Lizzo’s “About Damn Time” and Doja Cat’s “Woman” and all tick various strains of the house box: classic vocal, disco and deep with a touch of Latin, respectively. The remix nominations of the former two, from Purple Disco Machine and Terry Hunter, push the originals further into house territory. Beyoncé turns up again with a decidedly house-y take for best R&B performance with “Virgo’s Groove.”

It’s not a new phenomenon to have pop artists infuse their songs with dancefloor sounds. Madonna, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Janet Jackson, Cher are some of the artists who made this crossover move. They were awarded Grammys for bringing the sounds of underground clubs and warehouses to the world stage. But the music was somehow rebranded as pop. This year, it’s not.

Byron Stingily, one of the originators of house music whose Ten City project was nominated for a Grammy for best dance/electronic music album in 2022 observes, “Throughout the years whenever a pop artist does something that has elements of house, it’s never called house, it’s always called pop. Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” had every element of an underground house track, but because it was Justin Timberlake, it was no longer called house. House music didn’t receive accolades and acknowledgment, at least in America, and it’s time for it to have its day.”

It’s a trip to see house music become familiar to mainstream audiences and recognized by the Recording Academy is such an overt way. The genre has its roots in the warehouses of Chicago (hence the name “house) and was played primarily to a marginalized crowd of Black gay men. Its appeal is universal, but it takes a Beyoncé to spoon-feed it the masses. And longtime house music fans and aficionados sign-off on that—for now.

“Everything about me wants Beyoncé to win this year,” says Heidi Lawden, a fixture on the global dance music scene as a DJ, a manager, a promoter, a producer and a label owner for over three decades. “Not because of Beyoncé, but because of everyone who has touched the album who is deserving of recognition: Kevin Aviance, Honey Dijon, Luke Solomon. I want these absolutely integral people to get their flowers. It’s a shame it has to be via the biggest pop star in the world, but hey, I’ll take it.”

Stingily agrees, “As far as I can tell Beyoncé is a supporter and a fan of house music. I ran into her years ago and recognized me because of my music. Terry Hunter, Maurice Joshua, people I am friends with and worked with are receiving nominations because of her.”

The Recording Academy acknowledgement of dance music as a legitimate genre deserving of its own categories took a long time. They established the ill-fated best disco recording award in 1980 after the genre had fallen (temporarily) out of favor. It lasted one year. This did not help in getting a best dance/electronic recording category instated for another 18 years. In the 25 years the award has been given (with fluctuating names), over 50% of the time it has been a pop star that has walked off with it, slimming down the chances of a true dance/electronic artist winning.

“There’s some kind of disconnect,” says Lawden. “It’s hard for the Grammys to give awards to the underbelly of clubland. That’s the other reason why I like the people on Beyoncé’s album get the recognition if she wins is because they’re unapologetically dancefloor people. They’re not people that dipped into it for that album. These are lifers, nightclub people making their living only from nightclubs and its industry.

“But,” she continues, “this has to be the last year that we award a pop star for a dance category. It needs to be re-examined. I don’t know if the people on the nominations committee are out-of-touch, or afraid. The Diplos of the world and his ilk are easy to find. You don’t have to dig. but if you’re going to award a dance album, it should really be from the world of dance. Honey Dijon herself should be winning next year for her album.”

This year’s entries for best dance/electronic recording — which historically have tended toward the more mainstream sounds of the genre—are leaning toward house. Cases in point, Bonobo’s “Rosewood,” KAYTRADA’s “Intimidated” featuring H.E.R., Diplo & Miguel’s “Don’t Forget My Love” and of course, Beyoncé’s “Break My Soul.” The latter two have albums that are overwhelmingly house-based nominated for best dance/electronic music album.

Adds Stingily: “When we started house music 35 years ago, I wanted to do music that was accessible and would reach everybody and people would love it. We can’t be selfish with house music if we want it to go forward. Not only should we be happy to see Cardi B and Drake and Beyonce doing it, but we also should embrace it. Slick Rick is receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys. I would like to see the same thing for house music, see some of the originators receiving lifetime recognition. House music, it’s a very positive music and I don’t want to hold it in in the underground.”