An unexpected storyline is emerging as we approach the 62nd annual Grammy Awards: This is shaping up to be a boffo year for siblings. Both Billie Eilish and her older brother Finneas O’Connell are likely to receive noms, as are Beyoncé and her younger sister Solange, the hotter-than-ever Jonas Brothers, The National (which includes two sets of brothers), Greta Van Fleet and Disclosure.
Eilish is a front-runner in several categories, including album of the year for her first studio album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? O’Connell produced all 14 tracks on the album, which has logged three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Eilish and O’Connell co-wrote 12 of the tracks, including “Bad Guy,” which is a strong candidate for record and song of the year noms, and O’Connell solely wrote the remaining two. The quirky track is holding at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
O’Connell, 21, leads both the Hot 100 Songwriters and Hot 100 Producers charts, which make their inaugural appearance in Billboard this week.
Beyoncé and Solange are both in play for album of the year noms. Beyonce could be headed for her fourth nom in that category with Homecoming: The Live Album, while Solange could land her first with When I Get Home. If both artists are nominated, it would be the first time in Grammy history that siblings have competed in that top category. Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson were both nominated for album of the year but never in the same year.
Jonas Brothers have a shot at a record of the year nom for their punchy comeback smash “Sucker,” which entered the Hot 100 at No. 1. It would be the third single nominated in that category by a brother trio: Bee Gees were nominated for “Stayin’ Alive” (1978); Hanson for “MMMBop” (1997). The biggest hurdle JoBros will face in landing a nom in that top category is that pure pop is often undervalued at the Grammys. Justin Timberlake‘s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” was passed over for record and song of the year noms three years ago, though it did win best song written for visual media. JoBros’ potential fallback noms include best pop duo/group performance and best pop vocal album for their first album in a decade, Happiness Begins. The brothers — Joe, Kevin and Nick — were best new artist nominees in 2008.
The National’s two sets of brothers are Aaron and Bryce Dessner and Bryan and Scott Devendorf. The band is a contender with its eighth album, I Am Easy to Find. Its 2013 album, Sleep Well Beast, won a Grammy for best alternative music album. (Incidentally, The National isn’t the first successful rock band to include two sets of brothers. Devo‘s classic lineup included Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh and Gerald and Bob Casale.)
Greta Van Fleet, which won a Grammy in February for best rock album for their EP From the Fires, will be in the mix with its first full-length album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army. The four-man band includes three brothers: Josh, Jake and Sam Kiszka.
The brother duo Disclosure (Guy and Howard Lawrence) produced and co-wrote Khalid‘s “Talk,” a top 10 hit on the Hot 100. Disclosure ranks No. 3 on the inaugural Hot 100 Producers chart. The duo has received four Grammy noms.
Many groups consisting of, or featuring, siblings have won Grammys in marquee categories over the years. Carpenters (Richard and Karen Carpenter) are, to this day, the only sibling act to win best new artist (1970). Bee Gees (Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb) led the era-defining Saturday Night Fever soundtrack to its 1978 album of the year win. Toto (with Jeff, Steve and Michael Porcaro) won the 1982 awards for album and record of the year. Dixie Chicks (with Martie Maguire and Emily Robison) swept the 2006 awards for album, record and song of the year. Kings of Leon (with Caleb, Nathan and Jared Followill) took record of the year for “Use Somebody” (2009). Arcade Fire (with Win and William Butler) took album of the year for The Suburbs (2010).
Other groups featuring siblings that have won Grammys include Earth, Wind & Fire (with Maurice, Verdine and Fred White), Radiohead (with Colin and Jonny Greenwood), Gladys Knight & the Pips (with Gladys and Merald “Bubba” Knight), Dire Straits (with Mark and David Knopfler), The Isley Brothers (with O’Kelly, Rudolph, Ronald, Vernon, Ernie and Marvin Isley), Van Halen (with Alex and Eddie Van Halen), Stone Temple Pilots (with Robert and Dean DeLeo) and The Band Perry (Reid, Kimberly & Neil Perry).
Both Eilish and O’Connell could be headed for Grammy records. Eilish, who will turn 18 on Dec. 18, would be the youngest album of the year nominee in Grammy history, topping 20-year old nominees Janet Jackson (Control, 1986), Mariah Carey (Mariah Carey, 1990) and Taylor Swift (Fearless, 2009).
If O’Connell, who will turn 22 on July 30, is nominated for producer of the year, non-classical, he would become the youngest finalist in that category who was nominated on his own. That distinction is currently held by Lauryn Hill, who was 23 when she was nominated in 1998.
A few other people were 22 or younger when they were nominated, but they were nominated alongside a co-producer or as part of a production team. Wendy Melvoin, a member of Prince and the Revolution, was just 21 when they were nominated in 1984. Carey was 21 when she was nominated (alongside Walter Afanasieff) in 1991. Brownmark, also of Prince and the Revolution, was 22 when they were nominated in 1984.
One final note about Eilish and O’Connell: In today’s musical landscape, it’s unusual to have one producer handle an entire album. When We All Fall Asleep… would be the first album of the year nominee that was produced by just one person since Sturgill Simpson‘s self-produced A Sailor’s Guide to Earth three years ago. If Eilish’s album wins, it would be the first album of the year winner that was produced by just one person since Beck‘s self-produced Morning Phase five years ago.