Music

Can Adele Pull Off A Historic Grammys Feat That Only Stevie Wonder Has Accomplished?

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There’s a built-in, warm-fuzzy-feeling storyline for every Album of the Year nominee this year. If Beyoncé wins, she will become the fourth African American woman to take home the Grammys’ highest honor, and first since Lauryn Hill. If Sturgill Simpson wins, even more digital ink will be spilled on how, a few short years ago, he was playing bars in obscurity. If Drake wins, Views will join OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below as the only rap albums to win Album of the Year. If Justin Bieber wins… well, there’s no sentimental hook here (even if he “deserves” it). And if Adele wins, she will accomplish something only one other person has pulled off in Grammys history.

Adele’s second album 21 has sold over 35 million copies worldwide, spawned five hit singles, and won Album of the Year. Adele’s third album 25 has sold over 20 million copies worldwide, spawned four hit singles, and has a very good chance at winning Album of the Year. (The prognostication “experts” at Gold Derby have it as a two-album race between 25 and Lemonade. They’re the obvious frontrunners, but so was Beyoncé, and that album lost to Beck’s Morning Phase. The only thing anyone knows about the Grammys is that no one knows anything about the Grammys.)

If Adele does add another trophy to her collection, she’ll become the first artist to win Album of the Year for two consecutive albums since Stevie Wonder, who actually pulled it off for THREE ALBUMS, Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale, and Songs In the Key Of Life. (It would have been an incredible three albums in three years if Wonder hadn’t taken 1975 off, allowing Paul Simon to win for Still Crazy After All These Years.) To fully understand the significance of this accomplishment — if it does happen — let’s go back to the beginning of the album era and note year by year how Album of the Year winners fared on their follow-up records.

1968
The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Next album: Magical Mystery Tour (nominated, lost)

1969
Glen Campbell, By the Time I Get to Phoenix
Next album: Hey Little One (not nominated)

1970
Blood, Sweat, & Tears, Blood, Sweat, & Tears
Next album: Blood, Sweat, & Tears 3 (not nominated)

1971
Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge over Troubled Water
Next album: N/A

1972
Carole King, Tapestry
Next album: Music (not nominated)

1973
George Harrison, The Concert for Bangladesh
Next album: Living in the Material World (not nominated)

1974
Stevie Wonder, Innervisions
Next album: Fulfillingness’ First Finale (nominated, won)

1975
Stevie Wonder, Fulfillingness’ First Finale
Next album: Songs in the Key of Life (nominated, won)

1976
Paul Simon, Still Crazy After All These Years
Next album: One-Trick Pony (not nominated)

1977
Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life
Next album: Journey Through “The Secret Life of Plants” (not nominated)

1978
Fleetwood Mac, Rumours
Next album: Tusk (not nominated)

1979
Bee Gees, Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Soundtrack
Next album: Spirits Having Flown (not nominated)

1980
Billy Joel, 52nd Street
Next album: Glass Houses (nominated, lost)

1981
Christopher Cross, Christopher Cross
Next album: Another Page (not nominated)

1982
John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy
Next album: N/A

1983
Toto, Toto IV
Next album: Isolation (not nominated)

1984
Michael Jackson, Thriller
Next album: Bad (nominated, lost)

1985
Lionel Richie, Can’t Slow Down
Next album: Dancing On The Ceiling (not nominated)

1986
Phil Collins, No Jacket Required
Next album: …But Seriously (nominated, lost)

1987
Paul Simon, Graceland
Next album: The Rhythm Of The Saints (nominated, lost)

1988
U2, The Joshua Tree
Next album: Rattle And Hum (not nominated)

1989
George Michael, Faith
Next album: Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (not nominated)

1990
Bonnie Raitt, Nick of Time
Next album: Luck Of The Draw (nominated, lost)

1991
Quincy Jones, Back On The Block
Next album: N/A

1992
Natalie Cole, Unforgettable… With Love
Next album: Take A Look (not nominated)

1993
Eric Clapton, Unplugged
Next album: From The Cradle (nominated, lost)

1994
Whitney Houston, The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album
Next album: The Preacher’s Wife (not nominated)

1995
Tony Bennett, MTV Unplugged
Next album: Here’s To The Ladies (not nominated)

1996
Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill
Next album: Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (not nominated)

1997
Celine Dion, Falling Into You
Next album: Let’s Talk About Love (not nominated)

1998
Bob Dylan, Time Out Of Mind
Next album: Love and Theft (nominated, lost)

1999
Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Next album: MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 (not nominated)

2000
Santa, Supernatural
Next album: Shaman (not nominated)

2001
Steely Dan, Two Against Nature
Next album: Everything Must Go (not nominated)

2002
Various artists, O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack
Next album: N/A

2003
Norah Jones, Come Away With Me
Next album: Feels Like Home (not nominated)

2004
OutKast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Next album: Idlewild (not nominated)

2005
Ray Charles, Genius Loves Company
Next album: N/A

2006
U2, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Next album: No Line On The Horizon (not nominated)

2007
Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way
Next album: N/A

2008
Herbie Hancock, River: The Joni Letters
Next album: The Imagine Project (not nominated)

2009
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand
Next album: N/A

2010
Taylor Swift, Fearless
Next album: Speak Now (not nominated)

2011
Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
Next album: Reflektor (not nominated)

2012
Adele, 21
Next album: 25 (nominated, N/A)

2013
Mumford and Sons, Babel
Next album: Wilder Mind (not nominated)

2014
Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
Next album: N/A

2015
Beck, Morning Phase
Next album: N/A

2016
Taylor Swift, 1989
Next album: N/A

There have been numerous back-to-back nominations, but only one back-to-back(-to-back) winner. By Monday morning, there might be two.

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