Ranking the Grammy Album of the Year Winners
The Grammys turn 50 on Sunday, so we figured it would be fun to take all of the Best Album winners and rank 'em, 1 to 50. Then we looked at the list and decided to limit it to the last 40 years. For that first decade, it was almost all standards (lots of Sinatra, Garland, Streisand). Oh, and a Bob Newhart comedy album. Strange, but true. So we decided to kick off the rankings with 1968 winner, which just happened to come out on top. As you make your way down the list, you'll see that the Grammy's reputation for being the opposite of hip is extremely well-deserved. As always, agree/disagree/make personal threats in the comments section.
1. The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1968) We'll take "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver" (the latter of which lost the previous year to some weird "Storytellers"-esque Sinatra album) but this was an easy choice for the top.
2. Michael Jackson - Thriller (1984)
3. Stevie Wonder - Innervisions (1974)
Our choice for the best of Stevie's three winning albums, since you would never even think of skipping a track, which you can't say about the more bloated (but obviously amazing) "Songs in the Key of Life."
4. U2 - The Joshua Tree (1988)
5. Paul Simon - Graceland (1987)
5. Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1999)
5. OutKast - Speakerboxx/The Love Below (2004)
8. Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life (1977)
Outkast over Stevie? Well, to be fair, Stevie's over Outkast, too.
9. Bob Dylan - Time Out of Mind (1998) To these ears it's no better than Dylan's 13th best album, but it's the best of his Revival Trilogy, also consisting of "Love and Theft" and "Modern Times."
10. George Michael - Faith (1989)
Yes, George Michael in the top 10. Maybe it has something to do with seeing all of those "Eli Stone" promos during "Lost," but more likely it's just that this was just a rare album of expertly crafted pop songs that appeals to everyone, from Grammy voters to indie snobs.
11. Carole King - Tapestry (1972)
12. V/A - O Brother, Where Art Thou? OST (2000)
One of the albums this beat out in 2000? "Millennium" by the Backstreet Boys. Really.
13. Paul Simon - Still Crazy After All These Years (1976)
13. V/A - The Conert for Bangladesh (1973)
15. Dixie Chicks - Taking the Long Way (2007) I'm as surprised as you that J. Freedom didn't rank this one in the top 10. Perhaps Miranda Lambert has stolen all of their thunder.
16. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1978)
17. Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water (1971)
17. Stevie Wonder - Fulfillingness' First Finale (1975)
19. Bonnie Raitt - Nick of Time (1990)
20. V/A - Saturday Night Fever OST (1979)
21. Blood, Sweat & Tears - Blood, Sweat & Tears (1970)
Sometimes it's just fun to point out which albums didn't win. In 1970, BS&T bested the Beatles and Johnny Cash.
22. John Lennon & Yoko Ono - Double Fantasy (1982) An obviously sentimental winner in its year, it doesn't compete with Lennon's best solo work. It should still be higher on this list, but J. Freedom ranked it No. 27, somehow.
23. Alanis Morrissette - Jagged Little Pill (1996)
Perhaps my most hated album while in high school, but she seemed agreeable enough on "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
24. Norah Jones - Come Away With Me (2003)
24. Glen Campbell - By the Time I Get to Phoenix (1969)
Campbell gets half a bonus point for the fact that the title track (written by Jimmy Webb) was given a great cover treatment by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
26. Billy Joel - 52nd Street (1980)
27. U2 - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2006)
28. Quincy Jones and V/A - Back on the Block (1991)
28. Lionel Richie - Can't Slow Down (1985)
Right about here is where it starts to get really ugly. If there are children near your computer, you may want to send them away.
30. Steely Dan - Two Against Nature (2001)
This was one of those classic Grammy forehead smackers. It was the perfect opportunity to reward some new blood -- Beck, Radiohead and Eminem were all nominated -- but Becker/Fagen nostalgia won out.
31. Phil Collins - No Jacket Required (1986)
32. Toto - Toto IV (1983)
Just in case you thought the Grammys only recently became irrelevant, Springsteen's "Nebraska" and Prince's "1999" came out this same year (not to
mention post-punk classics "Vs." by Mission of Burma" and "Hex Enduction Hour" by the Fall) -- yet Toto took home the grand prize. It's like Terry Pendleton winning the 1991 MVP over Barry Bonds.
33. Natalie Cole - Unforgettable ... With Love (1992)
Wait, isn't that a Lenny Kravitz album title?
34. Eric Clapton - Unplugged (1993) David's last-place choice. Some might say I have an irrational hatred of Clapton but to me, it's very rational. His music makes me physically ill.
35. Ray Charles and V/A - Genius Loves Company (2005)
36. Santana - Supernatural (2000)
36. Tony Bennett - MTV Unplugged (1995)
Apparently we are not fans of "Unplugged" and/or albums with "legends" getting help from current stars.
38. Whitney Houston - The Bodyguard OST (1994)
39. Celine Dion - Falling Into You (1997)
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