The Pickled Priest Complete Guide to Grammy Atrocities, Album of the Year Winners, Pt. 2: 1991-2021

Today, we continue our in-depth examination of the Grammy Award selections for Album of the Year from 1959 to present. Yesterday, we tackled 1959-1990. Today, like a good hitman, we finish the job with 1991-2021. If you want some context behind this article, I suggest you go back to yesterday's post. If you've done that, read on.

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A BRIEF GUIDE TO EACH ENTRY


Year of Award Ceremony

Winning Artist | Winning Album in BOLD font

Other nominees for that year


Priest Pick: If we had to pick from those nominated


Not Nominated: Those that were eligible for the nomination, but weren't chosen.

(Editor's Note: We've listed just a few significant records not nominated. In many cases, many other records in many other genres could’ve been listed, so don’t freak out if one of your favorites is snubbed. Also, I’ve tried to list only records that had a realistic chance of winning at the time in order to be fair to the Grammy folks.)


Atrocity Level: On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the worst) how good or bad did the Grammys do at their job? Score contemplates both the quality of the winning album and other nominees.


Commentary: Our thoughts about the year’s results.


TECHNICAL NOTE: The Grammys are awarded using their fiscal year of Oct 1 - Sept 30. So for the 1959 ceremony, the date range for eligible albums was Oct. 1, 1957 to Sept. 30, 1958. The year listed is the date when the awards ceremony was broadcast/held (normally the following February or March).

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1991

Quincy Jones | Back on the Block

Back at the Barber would be a better title, Mr. Triple Stache!

Mariah Carey | Mariah Carey

Phil Collins | …But Seriously

MC Hammer | Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em

Wilson Phillips | Wilson Phillips


Priest Pick: Nobody


Not Nominated: Neil Young & Crazy Horse | Ragged Glory; The Black Crowes | Shake Your Money Maker; Depeche Mode | Violator; Sinead O’Connor | I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got; Garth Brooks | No Fences


Atrocity Level: 8


Commentary: The main award in 1991 went to a living legend in the music business, Quincy Jones, for a star-studded album that takes us through his storied career, stopping along the way in almost every genre of black music ever recorded. It amounts to a "Lifetime Achievement Award" set to music, so it's hard to argue with the selection. How do you not vote for something that features cameos from Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Ice-T, Herbie Hancock, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Chaka Khan, and, of course, Jesse Jackson (plus about a hundred others)? Answer: you don't. Nobody else had a chance. This, in a way, could be the defining Grammy of all-time. It has the scope of the Grammys (in theory) and includes many of the century's most revered artists all in one tidy package. In a show of respect, the Grammy voters surrounded this epic music undertaking with a below sub-par nominee class. It was an awkward era for the Grammys, which is saying something. Oft accused of not knowing their ass from their face, they started a bad trend by voting by popular opinion instead of actually listening to any records. Wilson Phillips and MC Hammer shouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near the ceremony if artistic merit was a prerequisites for nomination. Instead, they became two of the most offensive nominations in history. Mariah's album had more belts than a haberdashery and Phil's album (whose title sums up my response to the nominations perfectly) showed his creative tank was near empty (even the hits sucked). They should’ve just nominated a lazy-susan, a pizza, a manhole cover, and a Frisbee and called it a day. They were only space-fillers anyway. On top of that, how did Garth Brooks not find his way onto the big list? The Academy, to say the least, has their head up their asses when it comes to country music for a long time, but it's a genre that deserves its place at the main table in addition to its own category.



1992

Natalie Cole | Unforgettable…with Love

There's nothing sexier than a duet with your dad

Amy Grant | Heart in Motion

Bonnie Raitt | Luck of the Draw

R.E.M. | Out of Time

Paul Simon | The Rhythm of the Saints


Priest Pick: R.E.M.


Not Nominated: Rosanne Cash | Interiors; Pearl Jam | Ten; Nirvana | Nevermind; Seal | Seal


Atrocity Level: 8


Commentary: Natalie's album may not be unforgettable, but it is also unhateable. What's wrong with the famous daughter of a singing legend doing an old-time vocal record including, thanks to a little studio trickery, a duet with dear old dad? In any year, the answer is "nothing." But in the year that ushered in alternative music, and the explosion of Nirvana, the contrast is striking. Still, the Grammys took years to warm to rock & roll itself; we couldn't expect them to lock into alternative rock overnight. Should they have? Yes. Instead, we got two Grammy favorites, a sweet gospel singer gone secular, and R.E.M., a proven entity from the first wave of college (aka alternative) rock. Simon is beloved by the voting bloc, and rightly so, but everyone knew that Rhythm of the Saints was a sub-par Graceland, devoid of new surprises for the most part. Buoyed by the positive mojo from her big night two years earlier, the voters chose to adopt Raitt as their chosen one for her next three albums, not realizing there are others just like her waiting for their turn for a little late-career recognition. Still, any Raitt nomination is fine with me and I liked Luck of the Draw a hair more than Nick of Time anyway. R.E.M.'s nom did give us some fleeting hope that a sea change was on the horizon, allowing for some new bands to gain attention, but that hope would be shattered just a year later.



1993

Eric Clapton | Unplugged

Recorded live in the Warby Parker break room

k.d. lang | Ingenue

Annie Lennox | Diva

U2 | Achtung Baby!

Beauty and the Beast | Soundtrack


Priest Pick: Annie Lennox


Not Nominated: Matthew Sweet | Girlfriend; Tori Amos | Little Earthquakes; Arrested Development | 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life of…; Los Lobos | Kiko; Gin Blossoms | New Miserable Experience


Atrocity Level: 6


Commentary: The Grammys began their great atonement for past mistakes throughout the 90s and soon learned it was a futile game of Hungry Hippo, chasing too many marbles and digesting none of them. So we get the Clap this year on an album that had zero rock and no roll and slotted neatly into the new “Coffeehouse Rock” genre that has cruelly punished the unsuspecting public ever since. There's nothing worse than neutered rock and blues songs. Making it worse, the fact Annie and k.d. both released really amazing and sophisticated pop albums and even U2 put out one of their better records, so there were great choices to be made. But instead we got stuck with this half-caff non-dairy latte version of some of EC's favorite blues songs and a few career favorites, too. Plus we got a new version of "Tears in Heaven," a song so personal to him (after the tragic death of his son), he first released it on a movie soundtrack. (It's his right to do whatever he wants, of course, but it seemed a bit odd at the time.) All of this was perfectly acceptable fare for most people, but it was also eerily harmless, which was part of the problem. Was a pretty cool laid-back cover of “Layla” really worth it, people? I'd say no. Clapton apologists, I await your rebuke.



1994

Whitney Houston | The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album

Houston, we have a problem

Donald Fagen | Kamakiriad

Billy Joel | River of Dreams

R.E.M. | Automatic For the People

Sting | Ten Summoner’s Tales


Priest Pick: R.E.M. by a mile


Not Nominated: Dr. Dre | The Chronic; Counting Crows | August and Everything After; Nirvana | In Utero


Atrocity Level: 10


Commentary: Quick—name me two good songs from The Bodyguard soundtrack that aren’t titled “I Will Always Love You.” Now name me any song from the non-Whitney Houston half of the record. Did you pick the wallpaper track by Kenny G and Aaron Neville perhaps? Please tell me you didn’t go with Curtis Stigers’ nauseating cover of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” that I’d rather be castrated without anesthesia before listening to again. In fact, the album is absolutely unlistenable past song four, and I’m being generous going even that deep. Somehow, the soundtrack sold 45,000,000 copies worldwide (the masses are asses, as they say), mainly on the strength of Whitney's absolutely epic cover of Dolly Parton's country classic (for which she reportedly received 10M in royalties in the 90s alone!). Making things worse, R.E.M.’s album has not only endured, but has gained status and importance as the years pass. It was the obvious choice. Give Whitney "Record of the Year" and "Song of the Year," but leave the rest for other deserving artists. Oh, and the Grammys late-period love affair with Steely Dan and Sting is getting downright uncomfortable. Come on, people, can we get any more vanilla? Even Billy's album was a drag, and I am not a Billy hater like some these days. In fact, I'm a big fan.



1995

Tony Bennett | MTV Unplugged

Was he ever plugged?

The Three Tenors | The Three Tenors in Concert

Eric Clapton | From the Cradle

Bonnie Raitt | Longing in Their Hearts

Seal | Seal (aka Seal II)


Priest Pick: Tony


Not Nominated: Me’shell Ndegeocello | Plantation Lullabies; Pearl Jam | Vs.; Green Day | Dookie; The Mavericks | What A Crying Shame; Nine Inch Nails | The Downward Spiral; Johnny Cash | American Recordings; Hootie and the Blowfish | Cracked Rear View


Atrocity Level: 6


Commentary: Everyone loves Tony Bennett. Good luck finding someone who doesn't. While, in theory, putting three of the greatest singers of all-time on one stage should be unbeatable, they're still not the charming, cuddly grand old man of popular song that is Tony "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" Bennett. The Grammy voters love the format and they also love when old-timers get slotted into a modern phenomenon like MTV's Unplugged series. It bridges both past and present in a reverent way and they ate it up. That said, this could’ve been the year where we heralded the triumphant return of Johnny Cash, which would've been even more spirit lifting. His album was already unplugged, so it made no sense for him to go on the show, I guess.



1996

Alanis Morissette | Jagged Little Pill

Irony free cover (and album)

Mariah Carey | Daydream

Michael Jackson | HIStory: Past Present and Future, Book 1

Joan Osborne | Relish

Pearl Jam | Vitalogy


Priest Pick: Alanis


Not Nominated: Nirvana | MTV Unplugged in New York; PJ Harvey | To Bring You My Love; Jewel | Pieces of You; Radiohead | The Bends; John Prine | Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings; D’Angelo | Brown Sugar; Emmylou Harris | Wrecking Ball


Atrocity Level: 6


Commentary: The winner is undeniable. She was ubiquitous in 1995 and her songs struck a major chord with a lot of people, particularly women. She deserved to win. (We didn't deserve a Broadway musical of the album decades later, but that's an issue for another day). The atrocity factor elevates with the ab-nomination that is MJ’s pretentiously-named vanity project, which coupled his greatest hits with some crappy new material, one of the songs a cover of an R. Kelly song. The wince factor there, in retrospect, is off-the-charts. Sadly, his “future” history also included molesting young boys in Neverland (and if you don’t believe it, you’re delusional). On top of that, we get Joan Osborne, an album nobody heard more than one song from (“One of Us”). Pearl Jam was an attempt by voters to combat the rumor that the Grammy can’t rock. They still can't. Mariah, the most successful pop female of all-time has never won album of the year. That, my friends, should tell you something.



1997

Celine Dion | Falling Into You

One chai latte and, I'm feeling a little naughty today, an orange scone, please

Beck | Odelay

The Fugees | The Score

The Smashing Pumpkins | Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

Waiting to Exhale | Soundtrack


Priest Pick: Beck


Not Nominated: Oasis | (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?; Pulp | Different Class; Lyle Lovett | The Road to Ensenada; Jay-Z | Reasonable Doubt


Atrocity Level: 8


Commentary: Finally Aldo Nova gets his long-awaited Grammy (albeit for producing Celine's massive hit record and not his own band's work). Well done, Aldo, a "Fantasy" come true! If only you had a project to work on that didn't make a huge contingent of people want to run a javelin through both earlobes simultaneously. Opting to wait on hipster cred by passing on Beck’s critically-worshipped Odelay and the Fugees The Score, or even a nod to alternative darlings, Smashing Pumpkins, Celine Dion was all that was left. And it sold a shit-ton of albums, which makes it good. Right? Right!? It helps that Celine dominated the ultra-populated 50+ voter demographic. The album coasted to victory on the "grey wave." May this never happen again.



1998

Bob Dylan | Time Out of Mind

Finally, a Grammy-worthy album!

Babyface | The Day

Paula Cole | This Fire

Paul McCartney | Flaming Pie

Radiohead | OK Computer


Priest Pick: Radiohead


Not Nominated: Wilco | Being There; Johnny Cash | Unchained; DJ Shadow | Endtroducing…. ; Erykah Badu | Baduism; The Notorious B.I.G. | Life After Death; Faith No More | Album of the Year; Cornership | When I Was Born for the 7th Time; Buena Vista Social Club | Buena Vista Social Club; Björk | Homegenic;

The Verve | Urban Hymns


Atrocity Level: 3


Commentary: The Grammys were so desperate to acknowledge Dylan, and make up for decades of nonsensical snubbery from his 60s prime, that they passed on one of the landmark records of the 90s to do so. Thankfully, nobody was crying foul because this is perhaps Dylan’s late-period masterpiece and a very worthy winner. The nominees could've been so much better, though. Instead, we got the usual collection of lightweights and one legend who we all desperately want to be good still.



1999

Lauryn Hill | The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Also won a Woody Award in 1999 for best wood-burned album cover

Madonna | Ray of Light

Sheryl Crow | The Globe Sessions

Garbage | Version 2.0

Shania Twain | Come On Over


Priest Pick: Lauryn


Not Nominated: Air | Moon Safari; Dixie Chicks | Wide Open Spaces; Rufus Wainwright | Rufus Wainwright; Billy Bragg & Wilco | Mermaid Avenue; Lucinda Williams | Car Wheels on a Gravel Road; Liz Phair | Whitechocolatespaceegg; Elliott Smith | XO; OutKast | Aquemini


Atrocity Level: 1


Commentary: "The Year of the Woman" for the Grammys. All nominees were solo females (Madonna, Sheryl Crow, Shania Twain, Lauryn Hill) or female-fronted (Shirley Manson of Garbage). Lauryn Hill was the perfect solution to a growing problem in Grammyville. Not enough strong, modern women, not enough diversity. The record holds up, too, but the lack of a follow-up may have tainted its legacy somewhat. If only Lucinda Williams could've joined their ranks (and won) would this get any better. That would've been Bonnie Raitt-like sweet.



2000

Santana | Supernatural

"I'm winning and I don't intend on losing again" -Carlos Santana (never nominated again)

Backstreet Boys | Millennium

Dixie Chicks | Fly

Diana Krall | When I Look In Your Eyes

TLC | FanMail


Priest Pick: Nobody


Not Nominated: Beck | Mutations; Eminem | The Slim Shady LP; The Roots | Things Fall Apart; Wilco | Summerteeth; Fountains of Wayne | Utopia Parkway; Shelby Lynne | I Am Shelby Lynne; Tom Waits | Mule Variations; Moby | Play; The Flaming Lips | The Soft Bulletin; Macy Gray | On How Life Is


Atrocity Level: 9


Commentary: The Grammys are always in a state of making amends. Nothing pleases the voters more than a classic artist that makes a “comeback” record—the voting is exponentially easier when a record is anointed by default and people don’t have to think, or god forbid, listen to a bunch of albums. This choice makes old fans happy and young pop fans get a Rob Thomas cameo in the bargain. Everyone goes home with something—and none of them listen to the whole record all the way through. If you think the atrocity level is too high, it's simply because of the Dave Matthews cameo on the Santana album. Pickled Priest's strict bylaws mandate the most critical rebuke possible in such cases. Plus, Moby should've won the award this year in a runaway. His album was both innovate and a massive commercial smash. A formula that should've given him an easy win.



2001

Steely Dan | Two Against Nature

Fact: Every man, woman, and child has taken a "shadow photo"

Beck | Midnight Vultures

Eminem | The Marshall Mathers LP

Radiohead | Kid A

Paul Simon | You’re the One


Priest Pick: Eminem


Not Nominated: Paul McCartney | Run Devil Run; Rage Against the Machine | The Battle of Los Angeles; Fiona Apple | When the Pawn… ; Modest Mouse | The Moon and Antarctica; The White Stripes | De Stijl; Coldplay | Parachutes; Ryan Adams | Heartbreaker


Atrocity Level: 7


Commentary: Nobody was expecting Kid A to actually win—that said, this was still a major breakthrough for the Grammys. Nobody was expecting The Marshall Mathers LP to actually win—that said, this was a major breakthrough for the Grammys. Two in one year; not bad! Could things be turning around in Oz? Uh, not quite yet. The return of Steely Dan, the band that wouldn't die, returned with a pretty average album in tow, and proved too delicious for the rut-dwelling voters to pass up on even though the band was well past their glory years at this point. If there was a Grammy Voter HOF, they'd be in it (along with Frank Sinatra, Henry Mancini, Paul Simon, Sting, et al). This album was the equivalent of sleeping with Seka 20 years after her classic 1980’s "vehicle" The Seduction of Cindy. Not the same…just not the same.



2002

Various Artists | O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack

White prison uniforms with black stripes or black with white stripes?

India.Arie | Acoustic Soul

Bob Dylan | Love and Theft

OutKast | Stankonia

U2 | All That You Can’t Leave Behind


Priest Pick: Everyone loves a great story, and this was one of them.


Not Nominated: Johnny Cash | American III: Solitary Man; PJ Harvey | Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea; Erykah Badu | Mama’s Gun; Spoon | Girls Can Tell; Buddy Guy | Sweet Tea; Rufus Wainwright | Poses; The Shins | Oh, Inverted World; The White Stripes | White Blood Cells; The Strokes | Is This It; Mary J. Blige | No More Drama; Jay-Z | The Blueprint


Atrocity Level: 1


Commentary: The only soundtrack winner not dominated by one major artist, the planets aligned in 2002 for one glorious set of contiguous weeks—where our musical heritage was actually respected and radio accessibility ignored. America, this was your finest hour. Even Stankonia was nominated! We'll gloss over the many worthy albums that were ignored just this once because we're tickled pink that an album like this rose to such great heights against all odds.



2003

Norah Jones | Come Away With Me

The album that birthed 1,000 Starbucks

Dixie Chicks | Home

Eminem | The Eminem Show

Nelly | Nellyville

Bruce Springsteen | The Rising


Priest Pick: Bruce


Not Nominated: Patty Griffin | 1000 Kisses; Wilco | Yankee Hotel Foxtrot; Bright Eyes | Lifted…; Interpol | Turn On the Bright Lights; Coldplay | A Rush of Blood to the Head


Atrocity Level: 3


Commentary: Sweet Norah, we didn’t know how hip you’d become in later years, but even the most jaded, Grammy-hating, smooth-jazz denouncing, Springteen-loving music fan could understand how your monster debut record could soothe the huddled, fearful masses also known as the American people. If the Grammy trophy could actually play music, this is the record you'd hear. Safe, sophisticated, simple, gorgeous. That's not always a bad thing, unless you do that same thing for 40 years straight, which is exactly what the Grammys have done. Still, there's something real about Norah and that comes through loud and clear on this record. Full disclosure: I'm in love with her.



2004

OutKast | Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

7% of all voters actually listened to this album; 68% voted for it

Missy Elliott | Under Construction

Evanescence | Fallen

Justin Timberlake | Justified

The White Stripes | Elephant


Priest Pick: The White Stripes would've been a good choice, too.


Not Nominated: Macy Gray | The Trouble With Being Myself; Yeah Yeah Yeahs | Fever to Tell; Warren Zevon | The Wind


Atrocity Level: 1


Commentary: Forever fighting claims that they’re “out of touch,” the voters took the year off and apparently let an image consultant choose the winner. They do what they have to do to stay relevant. Somewhere, there are some bodies buried for sure. A new dawn for the Grammys perhaps? Who are you fucking kidding? Read on.



2005

Ray Charles | Genius Loves Company

There's nothing worse than company showing up 40 years too late

Green Day | American Idiot

Alicia Keys | The Diary of Alicia Keys

Usher | Confessions

Kanye West | The College Dropout


Priest Pick: Can't bring myself to say his name


Not Nominated: Franz Ferdinand | Franz Ferdinand; Loretta Lynn | Van Lear Rose; Arcade Fire | Funeral


Atrocity Level: 3


Commentary: Obvious payback for senselessly snubbing Ray Charles during his 60s prime in favor of two white-bread records—one by Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and the other by a doofus, flash-in-the-pan comedian—this is nowhere near his best work, but merely an attempt to safe face so people can't say “Ray Charles never won an Album of the Year Grammy?!”*


*Yes, he has won in other categories, but nowhere near as often as his storied career dictates and never for any of the “Big” awards...until now. I love Ray, but the Grammys embarrassing history makes this choice bittersweet at best.



2006

U2 | How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

Step One: Find someone expendable to cut the first wire (hint: second from right)

Mariah Carey | The Emancipation of Mimi

Paul McCartney | Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

Gwen Stefani | Love. Angel. Music. Baby

Kanye West | Late Registration


Priest Pick: Nobody


Not Nominated: Bright Eyes | I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning; Antony and the Johnsons | I Am a Bird Now; Bruce Springsteen | Devils & Dust; Spoon | Gimme Fiction; The White Stripes | Get Behind Me Satan


Atrocity Level: 8


Commentary: Even I, not a Kanye fan, knew he got screwed by a sub-par U2 record. That I have so little to say about this year is testament to its forgettability. Let's move on.



2007

Dixie Chicks | Taking the Long Way

The most steamrolled record since the Beatles' Revolver

Gnarls Barkley | St. Elsewhere

John Mayer | Continuum

Red Hot Chili Peppers | Stadium Arcadium

Justin Timberlake | Future Sex/Love Sounds


Priest Pick: DIXIE Chicks


Not Nominated: Fiona Apple | Extraordinary Machine; Arctic Monkeys | Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not; Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins | Rabbit Fur Coat; Bruce Springsteen | We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions; TV on the Radio | Return to Cookie Mountain; Lily Allen | Alright, Still


Atrocity Level: 6


Commentary: Another year, more underwhelming competition for a strong winner. Liberal Hollywood types rewarded these Bush-bashing Texans who were subjected to a good old-fashioned record-burning not seen since John Lennon said the Beatles were more popular than God. It was a triumphant slap in the face to conservatives everywhere and the record is deep in great material, too. Atrocity level bumped 5 places due to the presence of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as common sense dictates.



2008

Herbie Hancock | River: The Joni Letters

2% of the crowd at the Grammys knew this record existed when it was announced

Foo Fighters | Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace

Vince Gill | These Days

Kanye West | Graduation

Amy Winehouse | Back to Black


Priest Pick: Amy Winehouse


Not Nominated: Arcade Fire | Neon Bible; Miranda Lambert | Crazy Ex-Girlfriend; The National | Boxer; Rihanna | Good Girl Gone Bad; Spoon | Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga; Tegan & Sara | The Con; M.I.A. | Kala


Atrocity Level: 5


Commentary: Did ballots submitted by NPR listeners get double-counted this year? Or was everybody just looking for a way to pass over Kanye again? Both explanations make sense. No slight to the incredible Herbie Hancock and his storied career, of course. I loved the complete shock in the room when his name was announced. One of the most anticlimactic moments in Grammy history. I bought the album as a result, but I honestly can't recall what it sounds like. I'm sure it's great.



2009

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss | Raising Sand

One of these artists didn't win a Grammy until 1998: guess who?

Coldplay | Viva la Vida

Ne-Yo | Year of the Gentleman

Radiohead | In Rainbows

Lil Wayne | The Carter III


Priest Pick: Krauss and friend


Not Nominated: Band of Horses | Cease to Begin; Adele | 19; Vampire Weekend | Vampire Weekend; Santogold | Santogold; David Byrne & Brian Eno | Everything That Happens Will Happen Today; Raphael Saadiq | The Way I See It; Jenny Lewis | Acid Tongue; TV on the Radio | Dear Science


Atrocity Level: 4 (Nominee driven)


Commentary: The oddball class of 2009 included Coldplay, Lil Wayne, Ne-Yo, and Radiohead, so perennial Grammy fave Alison Krauss paired with Grammy-ignored Led Zep lead singer was the musical equivalent of litigating a car accident against a station wagon filled with nuns. Don’t even attempt it.



2010

Taylor Swift | Fearless

So a perm it is, then?

Beyonce | I Am…Sasha Fierce

The Black Eyed Peas | The E.N.D.

Lady Gaga | The Fame

Dave Matthews Band | Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King


Priest Pick: Swift


Not Nominated: Animal Collective | Merriweather Post Pavilion; St. Vincent | Actor; Phoenix | Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix; Florence + the Machine | Lungs


Atrocity Level: 10


Commentary: Taylor will surely look at that Grammy on the mantle someday with fond memories. With time, she’ll forget her competition was the Black Eyes Peas, Beyonce’s Sasha Fierce debacle, and worst of all, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, the worst thing, do I even have to type his name, Dave Matthews has released since his RV dumped a load of his shit into the Chicago River. As you know, the presence of Dave in any nomination list immediately puts the atrocity level to a mandatory 10. It's just the way it is around here.



2011

Arcade Fire | The Suburbs

Fun Fact: Nobody has listened to a single Arcade Fire song for over ten years now

Eminem | Recovery

Lady Antebellum | Need You Now

Lady Gaga | The Fame Monster

Katy Perry | Teenage Dream


Priest Pick: AF


Not Nominated: Tegan & Sara | Sainthood; Vampire Weekend | Contra; Erykay Badu | New Amerykah Part Two; Janelle Monáe | The ArchAndroid; The Roots | How I Got Over


Atrocity Level: 3


Commentary: The year the Grammys went indie to show their hipster credentials. Thirty years too late, but better late than never. A weird assemblage of nominees, none of which excite or repulse. Big production pop was becoming the norm, but hadn't quite broken through yet, so Katy and Gaga had to wait. Soon, big dance productions and exotic stage presentations would be mandatory fare and the music would be secondary to flash.



2012

Adele | 21

Set fire to the rain? That makes no fucking sense!

Foo Fighters | Wasting Light

Lady Gaga | Born This Way

Bruno Mars | Doo Wops and Hooligans

Rihanna | Loud


Priest Pick: Adele


Not Nominated: Kanye West | My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy; Nicki Minaj | Pink Friday; The Decemberists | The King is Dead; Fleet Foxes | Helplessness Blues; Bon Iver | Bon Iver; St. Vincent | Strange Mercy; Florence + the Machine | Ceremonials


Atrocity Level: 3


Commentary: In twenty years, we’re all still going to be OK with Adele winning for this record. We’re not going to be nodding vigorously, but we’ll at least understand the rationale. Adele and the Grammys are a match made in heaven. If it was legal to marry a Victrola, we'd have one happy couple on our hands. Lady Gaga, the Buffalo Bills of of Record of the Year nominees, loses for the third straight year leather bustier and golden scepter notwithstanding.



2013

Mumford & Sons | Babel

While we're filing recount lawsuits...

The Black Keys | El Camino

fun. | Some Nights

Frank Ocean | Channel Orange

Jack White | Blunderbuss


Priest Pick: Nobody


Not Nominated: Lana Del Rey | Born to Die; Leonard Cohen | Old Ideas; Bruce Springsteen | Wrecking Ball; Michael Kwanuka | Home Again; Fiona Apple | The Idler Wheel…


Atrocity Level: 9


Commentary: Can we forget this ever happened? Even the woeful Grammys, duffing shots for a half a century now, wanted to take a mulligan on this selection. Some day we're going to look back on this selection and wince. Actually, that day is today. How about we substitute all those in the "Not Nominated" section into the nomination slots and give the award to Fiona as deserved. There are people in the underworld that you can hire to do such things. And don't come at me with the Frank Ocean record. It isn't that good.



2014

Daft Punk | Random Access Memories

Maybe robots will make us forget the Mumford debacle

Kendrick Lamar | Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City

Sara Bareilles | The Blessed Unrest

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis | The Heist

Taylor Swift | Red


Priest Pick: Kendrick or Swift


Not Nominated: Vampire Weekend | Modern Vampires of the City; The National | Trouble Will Find Me; Jason Isbell | Southeastern; Arctic Monkeys | AM; Lorde | Pure Heroine


Atrocity Level: 2


Commentary: The Grammys love to show clips from their past award shows and the visual of two robot men accepting the award with diminutive, bowl-cut manchild Paul Williams and urban-sombrero wearing, diminutive manchild Pharrell is a indelible image. And I haven't even mentioned Nile Rogers. It's a moment that will forever be etched in Grammy history. Still, it's a minor miracle Swift didn't win. Kendrick was a little too raw at this point, still one album out from his masterpiece (that would also be snubbed).



2015

Beck | Morning Phase

When announced, it was like popping all the balloons at a child's birthday party

Sam Smith | In the Lonely Hour

Beyoncé | Beyoncé

Ed Sheeran | x

Pharrell Williams | G I R L


Priest Pick: Beck


Not Nominated: Against Me! | Transgender Dysphoria Blues; Angel Olsen | Burn Your Fire for No Witness; St. Vincent | St. Vincent; Sturgill Simpson | Metamodern Sounds in Country Music; Miranda Lambert | Platinum; Lana Del Rey | Ultraviolence; Jenny Lewis | The Voyager


Atrocity Level: 3


Commentary: Lots of big names populated the nominees this year, so it was safe to say one of them would walk off with the award. Maybe they all cancelled each other out. Nobody seemed to believe it when Morning Phase was announced. The look on most faces was something on the line of, "Maybe I should've listened to that record this year." Still, it's hard to be upset when Beck, a master chameleon, wins anything. He's cooler than everybody else. He's a true artist through and through.



2016

Taylor Swift | 1989

Shake it off, shake it off like a Polaroid picture

Alabama Shakes | Sound & Color

Kendrick Lamar | To Pimp a Butterfly

Chris Stapleton | Traveller

The Weeknd | Beauty Behind the Madness


Priest Pick: Alabama Shakes was my #1 of 2016, but even I know Kendrick should’ve picked up the trophy.


Not Nominated: Father John Misty | I Love You, Honeybear; Brandi Carlile | The Firewatcher’s Daughter; Courtney Barnett | Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit; Sufjan Stevens | Carrie & Lowell; Kamasi Washington | The Epic; Kacey Musraves | Pageant Material; Jason Isbell | Something More Than Free; Tame Impala | Currents


Atrocity Level: 2


Commentary: Taylor, at best, gets the bronze medal here, but the crop of nominees is damn strong for once. They cover pop, soul, rap, country, and whatever we call the Weeknd’s music. So good on you, Grammy voters. You didn’t completely fuck it up this time. That said, you had the chance to make a statement…but you didn’t, did you? You went the safest of all routes, as usual.



2017

Adele | 25

You're about to stare at this for an uncomfortably long time right now

Beyonce | Lemonade

Justin Bieber | Purpose

Drake | Views

Sturgill Simpson | A Sailor’s Guide to Earth


Priest Pick: Beyonce


Not Nominated: David Bowie | Blackstar; Anderson .Paak | Malibu; Rihanna | Anti; Michael Kiwanuka Love & Hate; Frank Ocean | Blonde; Angel Olsen | My Woman; Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds | Skeleton Tree


Atrocity Level: 8


Commentary: I would’ve voted for Sturgill, but even Adele knew Beyonce got the major shaft and said so during her acceptance speech. Adele is, and likely always will be, Grammy royalty. Just hope you don’t put out your masterpiece the same year she so much as takes a shit on a record. To this day, one of the great award robberies of all time. It would've also been cool for Bowie to win for Blackstar posthumously, but the fucking Grammys had to jam in no-talent ass clown Drake and baby boy Bieber instead. What a missed opportunity.



2018

Bruno Mars | 24K Magic

The first time a box of condoms won a Grammy; hopefully the last

Childish Gambino | Awaken, My Love

Jay-Z | 4:44

Kendrick Lamar | DAMN.

Lorde | Melodrama


Priest Pick: Lorde


Not Nominated: Leonard Cohen | You Want It Darker; Miranda Lambert | The Weight of These Wings; Rhiannon Giddens | Freedom Highway; Father John Misty | Pure Comedy; SZA | Control; Portugal. The Man | Woodstock


Atrocity Level: 8


Commentary: The Grammys love a showman. What can you say? On stage, he's electric. Bruno’s record isn’t his best work and everyone knows it—even Bruno. Childish Gambino won best song for “This is America” (without the video, not much to it), so he wasn’t getting the trophy. Kendrick got the shafted two years earlier for a better album, but nobody would’ve begrudged him the win for this one either. Lorde has the most satisfying album overall and should’ve won in the end. Perhaps it was too soon to anoint her as a new pop queen.



2019

Kacey Musgraves | Golden Hour

Big fan

Cardi B | Invasion of Privacy

Brandi Carlile | By the Way, I Forgive You

Drake | Scorpion

H.E.R. | H.E.R.

Post Malone | Beerbongs & Bentleys

Janelle Monae | Dirty Computer

Various Artists | Black Panther Soundtrack


Priest Pick: Brandi is a fine girl, what a good winner she would be. But I have no qualms with anyone on this list as long as it’s one of the females. All were deserving.


Not Nominated: St. Vincent | Masseduction; Margo Price | All American Made; Mavis Staples | If All I Was Was Black; Florence + the Machine | High as Hope; Travis Scott | Astroworld


Atrocity Level: 2


Commentary: Like the Oscars, the Grammys broadened their Album of the Year nominee list to be more inclusive in 2019, so we got a more interesting, and expansive, group of nominees. Post Malone was the first nominee with face tattoos since Judy Garland won back in the early 60s. He was also the first to use the word "Beerbongs" in a Grammy-nominated album title. Drink! In truth, I have to think that Cardi B deserved the win here, though. It was her year. That said, Kacey is a true artist with well-crafted songs, so all's good here.



2020

Billie Eilish | When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

The Exorcist, Part VI: Spoiler alert: her hair turns puke green later in the movie

Bon Iver | I,I

Lana Del Rey | Norman Fucking Rockwell

Ariana Grande | Thank U, Next

H.E.R. | I Used to Know Her

Lil Nas X | 7

Lizzo | Cuz I Love You

Vampire Weekend | Father of the Bride


Priest Pick: Lana


Not Nominated: Pistol Annies | Interstate Gospel; Rosalia | El mal querer; Better Oblivion Community Center | Better Oblivion Community Center; Solange | When I Get Home; Orville Peck | Pony; Jenny Lewis | On the Line; Jamila Woods | Legacy! Legacy!; Bruce Springsteen | Western Stars; Taylor Swift | Lover; Brittany Howard | Jaime


Atrocity Level: 2


Commentary: Billie was just what the Grammys needed at just the right time. A fresh, hip, credibility-infusing nominee that they could hitch their wagon to and give the temporary illusion of relevance to the most overrated award of them all. It's never too late! She was deserving, too. That said, I would've gone with Lana, who put out an amazing album with mind-blowingly good songs throughout and an F-bomb in its title (a Grammy first!).



2021

Taylor Swift | folklore

There is unrest in the forest, there is trouble with the trees

Dua Lipa | Future Nostalgia

Post Malone | Hollywood’s Bleeding

Jhené Aiko | Chilombo

Black Pumas | Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition)

Coldplay | Everyday Life

Jacob Collier | Djesse Vol. 3

HAIM | Women in Music Pt. III


Priest Pick: Taylor


Not Nominated: Angel Olsen | All Mirrors; FKA Twigs | Magdalene; Natalia Lafourcade | Un Canto por Mexico, Vol. 1; Waxahatchee | St. Cloud; Laura Marling | Song for Our Daughter; Fiona Apple | Fetch the Bolt Cutters; Run the Jewels | RTJ4; Phoebe Bridgers | Punisher; Bob Dylan | Rough and Rowdy Ways; Lori McKenna | The Balladeer


Atrocity Level: 2


Commentary: Yep. Another award for Taylor, her third all-time (and should've been her fourth if Red has rightly won). There is no doubt folklore is the best album from the nominees this year, but the perpetually shafted Fiona Apple (too original for her own good) was the best album of the year that also had a chance of being nominated. That said, folklore is teeming with amazing songs, all remarkably consistent, mature, crafted, and lyrically compelling. I contend it is a little long, but a minor quibble. She's proven herself to be the real deal and thankfully the Grammy voters realized that fact long ago. I also appreciate the direction the nominees are taking, even if the choices are dubious. It shows more variety than usual and even makes some bold choices. We'll never get that rock and roll album we've all been asking for, but so be it. Rock is dead anyway. Let's hope this is a trend that continues and I'll gladly eat my words when they string together another 3-5 years of good selections. So, we end on a positive, hopeful note! See you next year, when Evermore takes home the trophy! It will be eligible. Just hope that Frank Sinatra doesn't come back from the dead.


Holy Christ! That was not worth the time in retrospect, but I'm happy I did it still (thankfully, I wrote the majority of this years ago and only had to revise it). I think the prosecution should rest at this point. You are the jury. Each of you gets to decide if I'm full of it or the Grammy committee is. Either way, thanks for reading!


Cheers,


The Priest