ⓘ Grammy Award for Album of the Year

                                     

ⓘ Grammy Award for Album of the Year

The Grammy Award for Album of the Year is presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to "honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales, chart position, or critical reception." Album of the Year is the most prestigious award category at the Grammys, and it is one of the general field awards alongside Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year, presented annually since the 1st Grammy Awards in 1959. According to the 54th Grammy Awards description guide, the award is presented:

For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal or instrumental recordings. Award to Artists and to Featured Artists, Songwriters of new material, Producers, Recording Engineers, Mixers and Mastering Engineers credited with at least 33% playing time of the album, if other than Artist.

Album of the Year is related to but is conceptually different from Record of the Year or Song of the Year:

  • Album of the Year is awarded for a whole album, and the award is presented to the artist, songwriter, producer, recording engineer, and mastering engineer for that album. In this context, "album" means a recorded collection of songs a multi-track LP, CD, or download package, not the individual songs or their compositions.
  • Record of the Year is awarded for a single for one track from an album. This award goes to the performing artist, the producer, recording engineer and/or mixer for that song. In this sense, "record" means a particular recorded song, not its composition or an album of songs.
  • Song of the Year is also awarded for a single or individual track, but the recipient of this award is the songwriter who actually wrote the lyrics and/or melodies to the song. "Song" in this context means the song as composed, not its recording.
                                     

1. History and description

Although it was originally presented to the artist alone, the award is now presented to the main artist, the featured artists, the producer, the engineer and/or mixer and the mastering engineer. In 1962, the award name was extended to Album of the Year other than classical but, in 1965, the shorter name returned. It was not until 1968, 1969, 1999, 2011, and 2014 that the award was won by a rock, country, hip hop, indie and electronic album respectively. As of 2012, classical albums are eligible for this award, with the award for Best Classical Album being discontinued although no classical album has been nominated in this category since.

The honorees through its history have been:

  • 1959–1965: Artist only.
  • 1999–2002: Artist, producer, and recording engineer or mixer.
  • 2003–2017: Artist, producer, mastering engineer, and recording engineer or mixer.
  • 2018–present: Artist, producer, songwriter, mastering engineer, and recording engineer or mixer.
  • 1966–1998: Artist and producer.

The category expanded to include eight nominees in 2019.

                                     

2. Achievements

Tom Coyne as mastering engineer is the biggest winner in this category with four wins. He is followed by Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon as performers, David Foster, Phil Ramone, Daniel Lanois, Ryan Tedder as record producers, Bob Ludwig as mastering engineer, Mike Piersante, Tom Elmhirst, Serban Ghenea & John Hanes as engineers/mixers with three victories each. Ludwig, Coyne, Ghenea, and Hanes are the only people to win the award three consecutive years. Paul McCartney leads all performers with nine nominations: five as a member of The Beatles, three for solo albums, and one as a member of Wings. Sinatra leads solo performers with eight nominations, seven for solo albums and one for a duet album. McCartney and Simon are the only artists with nominations in every decade from the 1960s to the 2000s.

The first woman to win the award was Judy Garland in 1962, for Judy at Carnegie Hall. Taylor Swift was the first solo female artist to win the award twice. She and Adele are the only women to win the award more than once for their own albums winning for Fearless and 1989 ; and 21 and 25, respectively; Swift was also nominated for Red. In addition, Lauryn Hill, Norah Jones and Alison Krauss are all tied with Swift and Adele with two wins overall, each winning as lead artist for their respective albums, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Come Away with Me and Raising Sand Krauss collaboration album with Robert Plant; Hill won her second as a producer of her collaboration on Santanas Supernatural featured artists on non-soundtrack albums did not share in the award before 2008, while Jones won as a featured artist on Herbie Hancocks River: The Joni Letters, and Krauss was featured on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack). Also, for their own albums, besides Swift and Adele, only two female artists have received nominations after previously winning.

Billie Eilish is the youngest main artist to win in the category, winning for her debut album When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? in 2020 at the age of 18. Surpassing Taylor Swift who won in 2010 at the age of 20 for her second album Fearless and Alanis Morissette in 1996 with Jagged Little Pill at the age of 21. Sarah, Hannah and Leah, are the categorys youngest credited winners, winning for their contributions to the O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack at the ages of 13, 9, and 7 respectively. Leah Peasall is the youngest winner of any Grammy in any category. The youngest person to make an appearance on an Album of the Year is Stevie Wonders daughter Aisha Morris who appeared on "Isnt She Lovely?" off the album Songs in the Key of Life as an infant.

Christopher Cross and Billie Eilish are the only main artists to receive the Grammys for Album of the Year as well as for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist in one ceremony. Adele is the first artist to receive the award for Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist, nonconsecutively, and first woman to accomplish this feat. Only five artists have won both Album of the Year and Best New Artist in the same year: Bob Newhart in 1961, Christopher Cross in 1981, Lauryn Hill in 1999, Norah Jones in 2003 and Billie Eilish in 2020.

The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was the first album by a rock and roll artist to win, Glen Campbells By the Time I Get to Phoenix was the first by a country artist, Lauryn Hills The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill the first by a hip hop artist, Arcade Fires The Suburbs the first by an indie rock artist, and Daft Punks Random Access Memories the first by an electronic music artist.

Only two artists have won the award in two consecutive years, Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder. Sinatra had wins in 1966 and 1967 and Wonder followed with wins in 1974 and 1975. Wonder and Sinatra both won the most Grammys for Album of the Year within a decade. Sinatra had wins in 1960, 1966 and 1967, while Wonder had wins in 1974, 1975 and 1977.

Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Barbra Streisand, Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, and Lady Gaga are the only artists to receive three nominations for consecutive albums in this category. West and Gaga being the only solo artists to receive nomination for their first three albums. Additionally, The Beatles hold the record for most consecutive years being nominated for Album of the Year, with five.

To date, there have been four "live" albums to win the award: Judy at Carnegie Hall, The Concert for Bangladesh and two MTV Unplugged albums Eric Claptons and Tony Bennetts, which were performed in front of an intimate, live audience. One television soundtrack recording was also the very first recipient: The Music from Peter Gunn. Two comedy albums have also triumphed in this category: The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart and The First Family. There have been three soundtrack compilation albums that have been successful, as well: Saturday Night Fever, The Bodyguard though only Whitney Houston won for it as an artist and O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

As of 2020, only six artists have won Album of the Year more than once as the main credited artist: Frank Sinatra 1960, 1966, 1967, Stevie Wonder 1974, 1975, 1977, Paul Simon 1976, 1987, U2 1988, 2006, Taylor Swift 2010, 2016, and Adele 2012, 2017. Sinatra and Wonder both won the award three times as the main credited artist.

                                     

3. Process

Members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences nominate their choices for album of the year. A list of the top twenty records is given to the Nominations Review Committee, a specially selected group of anonymous members, who then select the top five records to gain a nomination in the category in a special ballot. The rest of the members then vote a winner from the five nominees. In 2018, it was announced the number of nominated albums will be increased to eight

                                     

4.1. Recipients 2020s

^ Each year is linked to the article about the Grammy Awards held that year.

Notes:

  • B ^ Only Houston and the producers of her tracks received the award. Unlike the other two soundtrack compilation albums to win this award, none of the other artists who appeared on The Bodyguard soundtrack shared in the award, nor did the producers of those tracks other than Cole, Foster & Clivilles who also produced some of Houstons tracks.
  • A ^ Award recipients include Bee Gees, David Shire, KC and the Sunshine Band, Kool & the Gang, MFSB, Ralph MacDonald, Tavares, The Trammps, Walter Murphy & Yvonne Elliman as featured artists; Albhy Galuten, Arif Mardin, Bee Gees, Bill Oakes, Bobby Martin, Broadway Eddie, David Shire, Freddie Perren, Harry Wayne Casey, K.G. Productions, Karl Richardson, Ralph MacDonald, Richard Finch, Ron Kersey, Thomas J. Valentino & William Salter, as producers.
  • C ^ Award recipients include Mike Piersante & Peter Kurland, as engineers/mixers; Gavin Lurssen, as master engineer; T-Bone Burnett, as producer; Alison Krauss & Union Station, Chris Sharp, Chris Thomas King, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Harley Allen, John Hartford, Mike Compton, Norman Blake, Pat Enright, Peasall Sisters, Ralph Stanley, Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, The Cox Family, The Fairfield Four, The Whites & Tim Blake Nelson all from the U.S. as featured artists. James Carter and the Prisoners, Harry McClintock & The Stanley Brothers were not included as their recordings long preceded the soundtrack; the only members of those acts still alive at that time were James Carter the only "Prisoner" from the Alan Lomax recording who was located and Ralph Stanley separately credited for recording "O Death" specifically for the soundtrack. The Soggy Bottom Boys arent credited as a group, but Dan Tyminski the singing voice of George Clooney in the film is credited as a member of Union Station, while the other two members Harley Allen & Pat Enright are credited individually. Chris Sharp, Mike Compton, Sam Bush & Stuart Duncan are not listed as lead or featured artists on any track, but were included for their instrumental credits on the album.