SZA paints a bleak Grammys picture in reflecting on 2018 losses: 'It's like a thirsty, dark space'

SZA smiles while holding up a golden Grammy trophy.
SZA won her first Grammy for pop duo/group performance for "Kiss Me More" in 2022. She recorded the track with Doja Cat. (John Locher / Invision / Associated Press)

SZA is one of the biggest names in music — but that doesn't mean she enjoys being on its biggest stage.

The "Kill Bill" performer opened up about her complicated relationship with the Grammy Awards, which despite nominating her in five categories in 2018 had her walking away at night's end empty-handed. Now, she's gone on to paint a bleak picture of the music industry's preeminent award show.

“It’s not normal,” SZA told Rolling Stone, referring to the award show and to mingling with other artists and influential players in the music industry. “I hate that [other artists] be acting like this s— is normal and nobody talks about it at all.”

Read more: Your favorite artist's favorite artist: How SZA went from cult star to pop superstar

"There is so much wanting in there," SZA continued, calling the Grammy venue "one of the weirdest rooms ever."

"Wanting to be noticed, wanting to be, like, acknowledged, to win, wanting to just be amongst [other artists] in the room, wanting to feel valuable or validated. All of us are in there striving for something.

"‘It’s like a thirsty, dark space," she added.

SZA also recalled the awkward and difficult task of having to perform her song "Broken Clocks" to the audience at Madison Square Garden and on live TV during the 2018 Grammys, right after losing in every category she was up for. She called the situation "weird."

She previously said she had gotten over her Grammy losses and told Cosmopolitan in 2021, “Once you’ve been nominated and lost, you’re very much free because you’re not concerned. I passed that threshold years ago — it’s an old energy to me. Why would I be mad?”

Read more: On the dazzling 'SOS,' SZA spares no one, least of all herself

Since then, SZA has exploded as a household name. She won her first and only Grammy in 2022, for pop duo, group performance for "Kiss Me More" alongside Doja Cat. Her latest album, the smash hit "SOS," was lauded by critics and fans alike. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, overtaking Taylor Swift's "Midnights," and held the top spot for more than two months. SZA also toured off of the hit album throughout 2023, including two sold-out nights at the Kia Forum in Inglewood. This year, "SOS" is expected to garner support from Grammy voters. However, during this awards season, SZA has already generated headlines about yet another snub.

Last month, her longtime manager, Terrence "Punch" Henderson, revealed that he had pulled SZA out of talks to perform at the 2023 Video Music Awards, citing the fact that she had not been nominated for artist of the year despite her recent commercial and critical success, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Nominees included Beyoncé, Doja Cat, Karol G, Nicki Minaj, Shakira and Taylor Swift, with Swift taking home the award.

Nominations for the 2024 Grammy Awards will be announced Nov. 10, with the ceremony taking place Feb. 4 at Los Angeles' Arena.

"It means something, even though, like, this isn’t everything," SZA said of the Grammys in the Rolling Stone piece. "But it’s kind of important that I’m here. It kind of matters."

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.