Billie Eilish‘s Grammy haul on Jan. 26 included record of the year for her smash “Bad Guy.” When the nominations for the 63rd annual Grammy Awards are announced later this year, Eilish has a very good chance of appearing in that category again with her current hit “Everything I Wanted.” This would make her the first record of the year winner to be nominated again in that category the next year since U2 achieved this feat nearly two decades ago.
“Everything I Wanted,” which has the soothing sound of a lullaby, is very different from the quirky “Bad Guy.” That boosts its chances. If the two records were similar, the Nominations Review Committee, which makes the final determination in the Big Four categories — album, record and song of the year, plus best new artist — would be less inclined to reward Eilish (or any artist) with another nomination in that top category.
“Everything I Wanted” was a bonus track on the Target reissue of Eilish’s album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? That reissue was released during the current Grammy eligibility year, which began Sept. 1, 2019.
In the Grammys’ 62-year history, just eight artists have received record of the year nominations the year after winning in that category. Take a look:
Tony Bennett – One year after winning for the elegant “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” (1962), Bennett was nominated for “I Wanna Be Around.” He lost to Henry Mancini‘s “The Days of Wine and Roses.”
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass – One year after winning for the sleek instrumental smash “A Taste of Honey” (1965), the ensemble was nominated for another instrumental hit, “What Now My Love.” They lost to Frank Sinatra‘s “Strangers in the Night.”
Frank Sinatra – One year after winning for the sumptuous “Strangers in the Night” (1966), Ol’ Blue Eyes was nominated for “Something Stupid,” a duet with his daughter, Nancy Sinatra. They lost to The 5th Dimension‘s “Up-Up and Away.”
Roberta Flack – One year after winning for the slow and sensual ballad “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (1972), Flack won again for “Killing Me Softly with His Song.” One year after that, she was nominated for “Feel Like Makin’ Love.” This time, she lost to Olivia Newton-John‘s “I Honestly Love You.”
Christopher Cross – One year after winning for the serene ballad “Sailing” (1980), the Texan was nominated for the film theme “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do).” He lost to Kim Carnes‘ megahit “Bette Davis Eyes.” (You may remember that Cross and Eilish are the only artists in Grammy history to sweep the “Big Four” awards in one night, so it would be fitting if Eilish also equaled this Cross feat.)
Bette Midler – One year after winning for “Wind Beneath My Wings” (1989), which was featured in her hit film Beaches, Midler was nominated for “From a Distance.” She lost to Phil Collins‘ “Another Day in Paradise.”
U2 – One year after winning for the exhilarating “Beautiful Day” (2000), the Irish band won again for “Walk On.”
You may have noticed that the instances of this happening have dwindled in recent years. There are two main reasons for this:
First, since 1995, the nominations for record of the year have been determined by a committee of Grammy insiders. That committee seems less likely to keep anointing the same artists year after year than rank-and-file Grammy voters were in the years prior to 1995.
Second, the Recording Academy introduced numerous “genre album” awards, such as best rock album, in 1994 and 1995. This greatly increases the chances that an album will win a Grammy. This matters, because once an album wins a Grammy, subsequent singles from that album are not eligible for record of the year nominations.
This has killed the chance of several singles that might otherwise have rated record of the year nominations the year after those artists won in that category. Among them: Toto‘s “Africa” in 1983 (the group won the year before for “Rosanna”), Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller” in 1984 (he won the year before for “Beat It”), Adele‘s “Set Fire to the Rain” in 2012 (she won the year before for “Rolling in the Deep”) and Bruno Mars & Cardi B‘s “Finesse” in 2017 (he won the year before for “24K Magic”).
Note: Simon’s “Graceland” won the 1987 award for record of the year. This was the year after his album of the same name won album of the year. As noted above, that couldn’t happen today.