The pundits do their best every year to predict the Grammy Award winners, but there are always snubs and surprises. This year was no exception. Take a look.
Surprise: Billie Eilish became just the second artist in Grammy history to sweep the Big Four awards: album, record and song of the year, plus best new artist. The first was Christopher Cross 39 years ago. It was a surprise because Lizzo came on strong in recent months and 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 that category in the year of his sweep. Kenny Loggins‘ “This Is It” took best pop vocal performance, male, edging out Cross’ “Sailing.”)
Surprise: Elvis Costello & the Imposters took the award for best traditional pop vocal album for Look Now, beating four-time category champ Michael Bublé and perennial nominee Barbra Streisand. It’s Costello’s first Grammy win in 20 years, since he shared a 1998 award with Burt Bacharach. Costello and the Imposters are the first group (as opposed to collabs) to win in this category.
Snub: Ariana Grande and H.E.R. both amassed five nominations this year. Both went home empty-handed. Runners-up in terms of having the worst night this year: Lucky Daye, Yola and rock veteran Thom Yorke. Each of these artists went 0-4 for the night.
Snub: Blake Shelton‘s “God’s Country,” which topped Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart for seven weeks last year, and which won a CMA Award as single of the year on Nov. 13, lost best country solo performance to Willie Nelson‘s “Ride Me Back Home,” a non-charting single from his album of the same name.
Surprise: With just one album credit for the year, FINNEAS took producer of the year, non-classical, beating such top producers as Jack Antonoff and 2012 category winner Dan Auerbach. Finneas, 22, is the youngest winner ever in the category.
Snub: Beyoncé‘s “Spirit” from The Lion King lost best song written for visual media to Lady Gaga‘s “I’ll Never Love Again” from A Star Is Born. “Spirit” has been edged out at several award shows this season. At the Golden Globes, it lost to Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again) from Rocketman. “Spirit” was shortlisted for an Oscar nomination, but in the end wasn’t nominated.
Surprise: Onetime disco queen Gloria Gaynor won best roots gospel album for Testimony, beating such genre stars as Steven Curtis Chapman. It’s Gaynor’s first Grammy win in 40 years, since “I Will Survive” took the 1979 award for best disco recording.
Surprise: Koffee‘s Rapture won best reggae album, making Koffee the first female solo artist to win in the category. She beat Julian Marley, nominated for As I Am. That is a very potent surname in this category. Three other sons of the late reggae legend Bob Marley have won a combined 13 times in this category.
Surprise: A remix of a Madonna track won for best remixed recording for the second time in nine years. Tracy Young’s remix of “I Rise,” the closing track from Madonna’s 2019 album Madame X album, won in that category. Afrojack and David Guetta shared the 2010 award for their “One Love Club Remix” of “Revolver.” For all that, Madonna hasn’t personally been nominated in 10 years.
Surprise: Norwegian sound engineer and producer Morten Lindberg won for best immersive audio album for the album LUX. Why is that a surprise? Lindberg had amassed 28 nominations before he finally won. That was the record for most nods without a win. (With Lindberg’s win, that dubious distinction passed to conductor Zubin Mehta, who has amassed 18 nods).