Is Winning Best Album The Worst Thing That Could Have Happened To Mumford & Sons?

Like it or not, Babel by Mumford & Sons is technically the “best” album of 2012. Actually, make “technically” the “best” album. Your opinion of how much that designation means equals your admiration and respect for the Grammys, which gave the English folk rock band its highest full-length honor on Sunday. But is that a good thing?

I took a look at every Best Album winner since 1993, to see whether the group or artist that took home the award was more or less successful, both critically and commercially, in the years after their big night at the Grammys, beginning with…

1993 — Unplugged by Eric Clapton

I’ve long believed that once the Baby Boomers die out, Eric Clapton’s popularity will shrink to next to nothing. Fans will point to Derek and the Dominos, Blind Faith, and Cream as examples of his greatness, a point that’s hard to refute (especially with Derek, despite Duane Allman arguably contributing more to Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs than he’s given credit for), but to many twentysomethings, all they know of Slowhand is, “Llllaaaaayyyyaaaa…*takes five second break*…got me on my knees, Layla.” The Unplugged version of “Layla,” as well as “Tears from Heaven,” sound like weepy coffee house covers, and although Clapton’s released decent blues album in the two decades since, including 2002’s collaboration with B.B. King, Riding with the King, he doesn’t elicit the same kind of fandom these days as, say, Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney. Put another way, Clapton may be God, but there are a lot of disbelievers out there.

Post-Best Album: Boom/Bust

1994 — The Bodyguard by Whitney Houston

It would have been impossible for Whitney to top The Bodyguard‘s astounding success — to date, it’s sold over 45 million copies, and was the first album to move one million units in a week — so she barely even tried. In 1995 and 1996, Houston put out two more soundtracks, Waiting to Exhale (in which she purposely shared the spotlight with a who’s who of top R&B names at the time, including Brandy, Toni Braxton, and TLC) and the gospel-heavy The Preacher’s Wife, before waiting two more years to release My Love Is Your Love. It sold well and received strong reviews, but didn’t crack the Billboard top-10 in the U.S. Then things took a turn for the worse, events that need be summarized.

Post-Best Album: Boom/Bust

1995 — MTV Unplugged by Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett has found a nice niche churning out Great American Songbooks compilations, many of which have gone platinum, so, with an assist from Jack Donaghy, this counts as a Boom.

Post-Best Album: Boom

1996 — Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette

Alanis Morissette never intended to be the “angry girl.” In the years prior to Jagged Little Pill, she was a dance-pop star in her native Canada; she even opened for Vanilla Ice in 1992. But then she lost her record deal, moved to Los Angeles, met producer Glen Ballard, blew Dave Coulier in a movie theater, and released Jagged, the second highest selling album by a female artist ever. But just as quickly as fame came, it went away — the overly angsty Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie sold only an eighth of what Jagged did, to say nothing of…well, can you name the follow-up to Supposed? Exactly.

Post-Best Album: Bust

1997 — Falling into You by Celine Dion

After Falling into You came Let’s Talk About Love, a despite-yourself-enjoyable album, wisely split between stirring ballads and impossible to resist dance-pop singles, led by “My Heart Will Go On.” Yeah, no slump here.

Post-Best Album: Boom

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