Whether they win or lose for album of the year when the 64th annual Grammy Awards are finally presented on Sunday, April 3, Billie Eilish‘s Happier Than Ever and Taylor Swift‘s evermore are already Grammy successes. They are among just 12 follow-ups to album of the year winners that were themselves nominated for the top award.
Eilish won the award two years ago with her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Swift won last year with Folklore.
A third artist, Kacey Musgraves, also released her follow-up to an album of the year Grammy winner in the eligibility year for the 64th annual Grammy Awards (Sept. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021). That follow-up, Star-Crossed, isn’t nominated in the top category (or the genre album category in which it competed, best pop vocal album), though a track from the album, “Camera Roll,” is up for best country solo performance and best country song.
How have follow-ups to Grammy album of the year winners fared with Grammy voters over the years? Let’s take a deep dive into this topic.
We break the follow-ups into groupings, based on how well the follow-up fared, from the best-case scenario (the follow-ups also won album of the year) to the worst-case scenario (the artist never landed another Grammy nomination in any category after winning album of the year. Ouch!).
Two Stevie Wonder albums and one Adele album achieved the best-case scenario. Toto, Steely Dan and The Chicks achieved the worst-case scenario, never landing another Grammy nom after winning the big one. (The Chicks have released just one album since their album of the year victory. To be fair, they may move out of the cellar with a future release.)
We’ll see how two other follow-ups to album of the year winners fare with Grammy voters next year. Adele’s 30, her follow-up to 25, the 2016 winner, and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ Raise the Roof, their follow-up to Raising Sand, the 2008 winner, were both released on Nov. 19. Raise the Roof wasn’t a big hit, but 30 was another blockbuster for the British superstar, who has won 15 Grammys from 18 nominations to date — a phenomenally good batting average.
We begin with the 1970 Grammy year (because album release patterns prior to that were so different). We show you the title of the studio follow-up album, the Grammy year in which it competed, and the title of the album of the year winner it followed.
Note: If either Happier Than Ever or evermore wins album of the year on Sunday, those albums will move from the second tier to the top tier. Likewise, if Musgraves wins in either of the categories in which she is nominated, Star-Crossed will move up into the next-higher tier.
Best-case scenario (3 albums)
(The follow-ups also won album of the year.)
Stevie Wonder’s Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974), his follow-up to Innervisions (1973)
Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life (1976), his follow-up to Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974)
Adele’s 25 (2016), her follow-up to 21 (2011)
Excellent scenario (9 albums)
(The follow-ups were nominated for album of the year, though they didn’t win/haven’t won yet.)
Billy Joel’s Glass Houses (1980), his follow-up to 52nd Street (1979)
Michael Jackson’s Bad (1987) his follow-up to Thriller (1983)
Phil Collins’ …But Seriously (1990), his follow-up to No Jacket Required (1985)
Paul Simon’s The Rhythm of the Saints (1991), his follow-up to Graceland (1986)
Bonnie Raitt’s Luck of the Draw (1991), her follow-up to Nick of Time (1989)
Eric Clapton’s From the Cradle (1994), his follow-up to Unplugged (1992)
Bob Dylan’s Love and Theft (2001), his follow-up to Time Out of Mind (1997)
Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever (2021), her follow-up to When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019)
Taylor Swift’s evermore (2021), her follow-up to folklore (2020)
Good scenario (10 albums)
(The follow-ups weren’t nominated for album of the year, but won in some other category — or one or more tracks from the album did.)
U2’s Rattle and Hum (1989), their follow-up to The Joshua Tree (1987)
Natalie Cole’s Take a Look (1993), her follow-up to Unforgettable With Love (1991)
Whitney Houston’s My Love Is Your Love (1999), her follow-up to The Bodyguard soundtrack (1993)
Tony Bennett’s Here’s to the Ladies (1996), his follow-up to MTV Unplugged (1994)
Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love (1998), her follow-up to Falling into You (1996)
Santana’s Shamen (2003), their follow-up to Supernatural (1999)
Norah Jones’ Feels Like Home (2004), her follow-up to Come Away With Me (2002)
Herbie Hancock’s The Imagine Project (2010), his follow-up to River: The Joni Letters (2007)
Taylor Swift’s Speak Now (2011), her follow-up to Fearless (2009)
Beck’s Colors (2018), his follow-up to Morning Phase (2014)
So-so scenario (10)
(The follow-ups weren’t nominated for album of the year, but were nominated in some other category — or one or more tracks from the album were.)
Paul Simon’s One-Trick Pony (1980), his follow-up to Still Crazy After All These Years (1975)
Stevie Wonder’s Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants (1980), his follow-up to Songs in the Key of Life (1976)
George Michael’s Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1 (1990), his follow-up to Faith (1988)
Quincy Jones’ Q’s Jook Joint (1996), his follow-up to Back on the Block (1990)
Alanis Morissette’s Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (1999), her follow-up to Jagged Little Pill (1995)
OutKast’s Idlewild (2006), their follow-up to Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003)
U2’s No Line on the Horizon (2009), their follow-up to How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2005)
Arcade Fire’s Reflektor (2014), their follow-up to The Suburbs (2010)
Taylor Swift’s Reputation (2018), her follow-up to 1989 (2015)
Kacey Musgraves’ Star-Crossed (2021), her follow-up to Golden Hour (2018)
Disappointing scenario (8 albums)
(The follow-ups weren’t nominated in any categories, nor were any tracks from the album.)
Carole King’s Music (1972), her follow-up to Tapestry (1971)
George Harrison’s Living in the Material World (1973), his follow-up to The Concert for Bangla Desh (1972)
Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk (1980), their follow-up to Rumours (1977)
Bee Gees’ Spirits Having Flown (1979), their follow-up to Saturday Night Fever (1978)
Christopher Cross’ Another Page (1983), his follow-up to Christopher Cross (1980)
John Lennon & Yoko Ono’s Milk and Honey (1984), their follow-up to Double Fantasy (1981) (Lennon was shot to death three weeks after the release of Double Fantasy. Ono assembled this planned follow-up on her own.)
Lionel Richie’s Dancing on the Ceiling (1986), his follow-up to Can’t Slow Down (1984)
Mumford & Sons’ Wilder Mind (2015), their follow-up to Babel (2012)
Worst-case scenario (3 albums)
(The artist never landed another Grammy nod after winning album of the year.)
Toto, no nods after Toto IV (1982)
Steely Dan, no nods after Two Against Nature (2000)
The Chicks, no nods after Taking the Long Way (2006)
Incomplete (3 albums)
(The act broke up or died before they could release a follow-up to their album of the year winner.)
Simon & Garfunkel, never released a studio album after Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
Ray Charles, died shortly after the release of Genius Loves Company (2004)
Daft Punk, never released a follow-up to Random Access Memories (2013)
Incomplete (2 albums)
(The act has yet to release a studio follow-up to their album of the year winner.)
Lauryn Hill, no follow-up to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
Bruno Mars, no solo follow-up to 24K Magic (2017)
Note: We omitted the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack (2001), where no one artist dominated the album.