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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Past Album-of-the-Year Grammy Winners Ranked and Revisited

image from nytimes.com

Originally posted 12/4/11.

With the Grammy being handed out tomorrow night, the DMDB is revisiting past year’s winners. How many upsets have their been through the years? Listed below are the Grammy winners each year. When one of the other nominees that year ranks higher according to Dave’s Music Database, it is listed beside the winner as Should’ve won. Note: the year listed indicates the year in which the nominations came out. In some cases, the album was actually released in the previous calendar year.

Taylor Swift

Lauryn Hill

Eric Clapton

Fleetwood Mac

The Beatles

Frank Sinatra

So there you have it. Out of 54 years, the “wrong” album won 31 times. This doesn’t even take into consideration albums which didn’t get nominated and should have. Some contests admittedly had very worthy candidates pitted against each other, such as OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below vs. The White Stripes Elephant or Eric Clapton’s Unplugged vs. U2’s Achtung Baby. In other cases, such as The Bodyguard soundtrack vs. R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People or Celine Dion’s Falling into You vs. Beck’s Odelay the higher-ranked album would have been a more creative pick, but it is no surprise that the Grammys went with the more mainstream choice. Still other times it is hard to fathom how a classic such as Pink Floyd’s The Wall can’t boast Grammy-winning status while Christopher Cross can.

Another curiosity is how the Grammy winners stack up against each other. Here’s how all the past-Grammy winners rank according to the DMDB. This time, the year’s reflect the actual year in which the album was released.

Michael Jackson wins for Thriller

1. The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
2. Michael Jackson Thriller (1982)
3. Fleetwood Mac Rumours (1977)
4. U2 The Joshua Tree (1987)
5. Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
6. Paul Simon Graceland (1986)
7. Carole King Tapestry (1971)
8. Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life (1976)
9. Saturday Night Fever soundtrack (1977)
10. Stevie Wonder Innervisions (1973)

U2 wins for The Joshua Tree

11. Alanis Morissette Jagged Little Pill (1995)
12. Lauryn Hill The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
13. The Bodyguard soundtrack (1992)
14. Adele 21 (2011)
15. George Michael Faith (1987)
16. Eric Clapton Unplugged (1992)
17. Santana Supernatural (1999)
18. OutKast Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003)
19. Norah Jones Come Away with Me (2002)
20. Lionel Richie Can’t Slow Down (1983)

Stevie Wonder wins for Innervisions

21. Phil Collins No Jacket Required (1985)
22. Celine Dion Falling into You (1996)
23. Bob Dylan Time Out of Mind (1997)
24. Bonnie Raitt Nick of Time (1989)
* 25. O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack (2000)
26. Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto Getz/Gilberto (1963)
27. Taylor Swift Fearless (2008)
28. Judy Garland Judy at Carnegie Hall (1961)
29. U2 How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004)
30. Natalie Cole Unforgettable…With Love (1991)

Double Fantasy wins Album of the Year.

31. John Lennon & Yoko Ono Doubly Fantasy (1980)
32. Arcade Fire The Suburbs (2010)
33. Henry Mancini Music from Peter Gunn (1959)
34. Blood, Sweat & Tears Blood, Sweat & Tears (1969)
35. Stevie Wonder Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974)
36. Billy Joel 52nd Street (1978)
37. Bob Newhart The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart (1960)
* 38. Vaughn Meader The First Family (1962)
* 39. Dixie Chicks Taking the Long Way (2006)
40. Toto Toto IV (1982)

Paul Simon wins for Graceland

41. Ray Charles Genius Loves Company (2004)
42. Robert Plant & Allison Krauss Raising Sand (2007)
43. Christopher Cross Christopher Cross (1980)
44. George Harrison et al The Concert for Bangladesh (1971)
45. Barbra Streisand The Barbra Streisand Album (1963)
46. Steely Dan Two Against Nature (2000)
47. Paul Simon Still Crazy After All These Years (1975)
48. Frank Sinatra September of My Years (1965)
49. Herbie Hancock River: The Joni Letters (2007)
50. Frank Sinatra Come Dance with Me (1959)

The Bodyguard soundtrack wins

51. Glen Campbell By the Time I Get to Phoenix (1967)
52. Quincy Jones Back on the Block (1989)
53. Frank Sinatra A Man and His Music (1965)
54. Tony Bennett MTV Unplugged (1994)

* These are comedy albums and are therefore not ranked by the DMDB.

When viewed this way, the Grammy winners don’t look quite so out of sync with best-of lists. The top 39 (with the exception of *) albums on this list rank within the DMDB’s top 1000 albums of all time. That means an Album of the Year Grammy winner has better than a 72% chance of being ranked in the DMDB 1000.


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