Grammys 2020: Billie Eilish Becomes the First Woman to Sweep the Big Four Grammys In One Night

Billie Eilish's sweep was the big story of the 62nd annual Grammy Awards, which were held Sunday (Jan. 26) at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Eilish became just the second artist in Grammy history—and the first woman—to take home the Big Four awards: album, record and song of the year plus best new artist. The first artist to do this was Christopher Cross 39 years ago.

Eilish took album of the year for her debut, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, and record and song of the year for her smash "Bad Guy." In the process, she set several age-related records.  

Eilish, 18, is the youngest album of the year winner in Grammy history, easily topping Taylor Swift, who was 20 when she won a decade ago for Fearless. She's also the youngest record of the year winner in Grammy history. That distinction was formerly shared by Kimbra and Sam Smith. Both were 22 when they won, as the featured artist on Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" (2012) and as the lead artist on "Stay with Me" (2014), respectively.

Eilish is the youngest best new artist champ since LeAnn Rimes, who was 14 when she took the 1996 award. She's the youngest song of the year winner since Lorde, who was a year younger—just 17—when she won the 2013 award for co-writing "Royals."

Lizzo came on so strong in recent months; it seemed likely that the two would split the top prizes. In the end, Lizzo beat Eilish in just one category—best pop solo performance for "Truth Hurts." (Fun Fact: Cross also lost in the performance category in the year of his sweep. Kenny Loggins' "This Is It" took best pop vocal performance, male, edging out Cross' "Sailing.")

When We All Fall Asleep… is the first debut album to win album of the year since Norah Jones' Come Away with Me (2002).

Eilish and FINNEAS, her collaborator and older brother, were each credited with five Grammys for the night. They shared the big three. He also won producer of the year, non-classical and best engineered album, non-classical.

FINNEAS, 22, is the youngest winner of producer of the year, non-classical in Grammy history. That distinction was formerly shared by Michael Jackson and three members of Toto (Steve Porcaro, Bobby Kimball and Steve Lukather) who were each 25 when they won.

Gary Clark Jr. and Lizzo each won three Grammys, second only to Eilish among artists. Rob Kinselski, an engineer/mixer on Eilish's album, and John Greenham, a mastering engineer on Eilish's album, also won three. The Chemical Brothers, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Nipsey Hussle, Lil Nas X and Tanya Tucker each won two.

Tucker had amassed 14 nominations, dating back to 1972, before she finally won. Her first Grammy was for best country song for "Bring My Flowers Now." Accepting the award, she said, "After almost 50 years in this business, after many dreams, it's unbelievable to me that I would still have some firsts left." A moment later, she took best country album for While I'm Livin'. Tucker, 61, is the oldest winner for best country album since Loretta Lynn, then 72, took the 2004 award for Van Lear Rose.

Lizzo took best urban contemporary album for Cuz I Love You (Deluxe). She's the third female artist to win in this category, following Rihanna and Beyoncé.

Tyler, the Creator's Igor won best rap album. His prior studio album, Flower Boy, was nominated in this category two years ago but lost to Kendrick Lamar's Damn.

Gaga won two more Grammys for her music for A Star Is Born, on top of the two she won last year. "I'll Never Love Again" won best song written for visual media. "Shallow," from the same film, won in that category last year. A Star Is Born is the first film to spawn two winners in this category. In addition, A Star Is Born took best compilation soundtrack for visual media, edging Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood. Tarantino has yet to win a Grammy, despite five nominations dating back to 2003.

Three of the top Grammy winners of all time climbed higher up the all-time winners' tally. Film composer John Williams won his 25th Grammy. Beyoncé won her 24th, which puts her just three awards behind Alison Krauss as the female artist with the most wins in Grammy history. Chick Corea won his 23rd.

Further down the all-time winners list, Kirk Franklin won his 15th and 16th Grammys; Bob Ludwig, his 12th; John Legend, his 11th; Lady Gaga, her 10th and 11th; and Willie Nelson, his 10th.

Beyoncé's Homecoming, an account of her instantly legendary performance at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, won best music film. Beyoncé co-directed the film with Ed Burke. She's only the second artist to win in this category for a film he or she directed or co-directed. The first was Alanis Morissette, who won the 1997 award for Jagged Little Pill, Live, which she co-directed with Steve Purcell. This is Beyoncé's first win in this category. She was previously nominated for I Am…World Tour, On the Run Tour (with Jay-Z) and Lemonade.

Lil Nas X & Cyrus' "Old Town Road" took the awards for best pop duo/group performance and best music video. The video's director, Calmatic, won a VMA in August for directing "Old Town Road."

Dave Chappelle won best comedy album for the third straight year, this time for Sticks & Stones. Chappelle is just the fourth performer in this category to win three years running. Bill Cosby won six years running (1964-69). Richard Pryor won three in a row (1974-76). Parody artist Peter Schickele won four in a row (1989-92).

Former First Lady Michelle Obama's Becoming won best spoken word album. Obama is the second first lady or former first lady to win in that category. Hillary Rodham Clinton won the 1996 award for It Takes a Village while she was first lady. (She accepted the award in person when the Grammys were held that year at Madison Square Garden. Obama, who helped open last year's Grammy telecast with a surprise appearance, was not present this year to accept her award.) Barack Obama won twice in this category before he was elected president.

Cage the Elephant took best rock album for the second time in four years with Social Cues. The band won in this category three years ago with Tell Me I'm Pretty.

Vampire Weekend took best alternative music album for the second time with Father of the Bride. The band won the 2013 award for Modern Vampires of the City. They're the only act to win twice in the category in the past 10 years.

Gary Clark, Jr. won in three far-flung categories. He took best rock performance and best rock song for "This Land" and best contemporary blues album for his album of the same name. Clark wasn't nominated in any of the Big Four categories. His strong showing in these down-ballot categories suggests he might have done well in the Big Four categories if he'd been given a chance.

Dan + Shay took best country duo/group performance for the second year in a row. They won this year for "Speechless"; last year for "Tequila." They're the first act to win two years running since this streamlined category was introduced in 2011.

One-time disco queen Gloria Gaynor took best roots gospel album for Testimony. It was her first Grammy win since she won best disco recording in 1979 (the only year it was presented) for her classic "I Will Survive." Gaynor alluded to her long gap between Grammys when she accepted the award by noting "I am at last able to balance out my piano."

Elvis Costello won his first Grammy in 20 years for Look Now, recorded with his group the Imposters. The album won for best traditional pop vocal album, beating albums by such category mainstays as Michael Bublé and Barbra Streisand. Other previous winners in the category who come from a rock background include Rod Stewart and Paul McCartney.

The late Nipsey Hussle won his first Grammy for best rap performance for "Racks in the Middle," which featured Roddy Ricch and Hit-Boy. His grandmother was among those accepting the award on his behalf. He later won a second Grammy for best rap/sung performance for his featured role on DJ Khaled's "Higher." Hussle was nominated last year for best rap album for Victory Lap. He was killed six weeks later.

The Chemical Brothers' No Geography won best dance/electronic album. It's the duo's third win in the category, which puts them in a tie with Skrillex for the most wins in the category's history.

Norwegian sound engineer and producer Morten Lindberg finally won his first Grammy, for best immersive audio album. Lindberg received 28 nominations before he finally scored a win, which made him the person with the most Grammy nods without a win. That dubious distinction now passes to conductor Zubin Mehta, who received 18 nominations from 1969-2007.

Hildur Guðnadóttir took best score soundtrack for visual media for her score to HBO's Chernobyl. It's just the second score for a television show to win in this category. Lalo Schifrin's score for CBS' Mission: Impossible took the 1967 award. Hildur is the first woman to win in this category in more than 30 years. The Icelandic composer has been unstoppable this awards season. She won an Emmy for Chernobyl and a Golden Globe and Critics' Choice Award, among many other prizes, for Joker. She will be competing for an Oscar for Joker two weeks from tonight.

Esperanza Spalding, whose win as best new artist of 2010 was a Grammy shocker for the ages, won best jazz vocal album for 12 Little Spells. This is Spalding's fourth Grammy win. (How does that compare to her best new artist competition that year? Drake has also won four Grammys; Mumford & Sons have won two. Justin Bieber has won one. Florence + the Machine is still looking for its first win.)

2020 Grammy Awards

THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.