Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s wins the Grammy for Album of the Year: February 29, 1968

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band rates as the best album of all time according to many sources (just check out its list of awards below). Dave’s Music Database, for one, ranks it as the best album of all time (see the DMDB’s top 100 albums of all time list). However, when Sgt. Pepper’s found itself amongst the nominees for Album of the Year for the Grammys’ 10th annual celebration there was no guarantee it would go home a winner. After all, according to a DMDB blog post last December (“Past Album-of-the-Year Grammy Winners Ranked and Revisited”), the Grammys have picked the wrong album 31 out of 53 times. Considering their strong anti-rock stance in the early years, would it have been surprising to see the Beatles go home losers?

The most celebrated rock group of all time did win a dozen Grammys over the years, including Best New Artist in 1964 and Song of the Year in 1966 for “Michelle”. Still, a look at the list of those who’ve won the most Grammys reveals some of the Grammy bias. The Beatles’ 12 trophies doesn’t even rank them in the top 10. Georg Solti has the most wins with 31. Alphabetically, here are the acts who have taken home at least 17 Grammys: Pierre Boulez, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Chick Corea, Aretha Franklin, Vince Gill, Vladimir Horowitz, Quincy Jones, Alison Krauss, Henry Mancini, Pat Metheny, Al Schmitt, Georg Solti, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Sturr, U2, Kanye West, John Williams, and Stevie Wonder. There are some impressive names on this list, to be sure. However, would you rank all of these artists ahead of The Beatles? The next time you find yourself in an argument about the greatest musicians of all time, see how well it goes over to claim that polka musician Jimmy Sturr is better than the Beatles.

However, for the 1968 Album of the Year prize, the Grammys got it right. By they way, here’s what The Beatles were up against:
Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim by Frank Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim
It Must Be Him by Vikki Carr
My Cup Runneth Over by Ed Ames
Ode to Billie Joe by Bobbie Gentry

While there are notable names amongst the nominees, none of these four albums comes close to Sgt. Pepper’s. While that album ranks #1 of all time according to Dave’s Music Database, none of the others even ranks in the top 1000. Thanks for getting this one right, Grammy.


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