Now that The Weeknd‘s new album After Hours has entered the Billboard 200 at No. 1 with the biggest one-week total of the year so far (444,000 equivalent units), the next big question is whether the album will land a Grammy nomination for album of the year. The Weeknd’s 2015 album, Beauty Behind the Madness, was nominated in that marquee category, but his 2017 follow-up, Starboy, was passed over for an album of the year nod.
Here’s a possible hint: As of this week, After Hours has spawned two No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, equaling the mark set by Beauty Behind the Madness; Starboy spawned just one No. 1 hit.
Also keep in mind that eight albums are nominated in each of the Big Four categories (album, record and song of the year, plus best new artist) compared to just five when Beauty Behind the Madness was nominated and when Starboy competed.
It’s starting to look like The Weeknd will make it back to Grammy glory.
Since 1980, this scenario has played out 10 times — where an artist regained their Grammy mojo after one album interrupted their streak of consecutive album of the year nominations. There have been many cases where an artist made it back to the album of the year finals after multiple albums fell short, but those felt more like Grammy comebacks. These are cases where just one album in a sequence of albums, for whatever reason, didn’t hit the mark.
Note: The years shown throughout are the Grammy years in which the albums competed, not necessarily in which the albums were released.
Bruno Mars. The pop star was nominated for album of the year for his debut, Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2011); was passed over for his sophomore album Unorthodox Jukebox (2013); and then won for his third outing, 24K Magic (2017). (Though Unorthodox Jukebox was passed over in the top category, it won for best pop vocal album.)
Beyoncé. The icon was nominated for album of the year for her third album, I Am…Sasha Fierce (2009); was passed over for 4 (2011); but rallied with nominations for her next two albums, Beyoncé (2014) and Lemonade (2016). She’s still waiting for her first win in the category, however.
Taylor Swift. The country-turned-pop megastar won album of the year for her sophomore album, Fearless (2009); was passed over for her third album, Speak Now (2011); but was nominated for her fourth album, Red (2013); and won for her fifth, 1989 (2015). (Though Speak Now was passed over in the top category, it was nominated for best country album.)
Beck. The alternative star was nominated for album of the year for his second major-label album, Odelay (1996); was passed over for his third, Mutations (1999); but returned to the nominations fold with his fourth, Midnite Vultures (2000). (Though Mutations was passed over in the top category, it won for best alternative music performance.)
U2. The Irish band won album of the year for The Joshua Tree (1987); was passed over for the Rattle and Hum soundtrack (1989); but was nominated for its next regular studio album, Achtung Baby! (1992). Though Rattle and Hum was passed over in the top category, it was nominated for best rock performance by a duo or group with vocal.
Paul Simon. Simon won album of the year for Graceland (1986); was nominated for The Rhythm of the Saints (1991); and was passed over for Songs From The Capeman (1998); before returning to the nominations fold with You’re the One (2000). Songs from The Capeman probably shouldn’t count against Simon’s streak: The album consisted of his performances of songs from the ill-fated Broadway musical for which he composed the music and collaborated on the lyrics and book.
Whitney Houston. The superstar’s first two solo albums, Whitney Houston (1985) and Whitney (1987), were nominated for album of the year. Her third, I’m Your Baby Tonight (1991), was passed over, but her next album, the mega-selling soundtrack to The Bodyguard (1993), won the award.
Sting. The Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985) and …Nothing Like the Sun (1988), the first two solo albums by The Police‘s former frontman, were nominated for album of the year. His third album, The Soul Cages (1991), was passed over, but his fourth, Ten Summoner’s Tales (1993), was nominated. Sting has yet to win album of the year, despite four career noms in the category.
Michael Jackson. The Gloved One won album of the year for his opus Thriller (1983); was nominated for Bad (1987); was passed over for Dangerous (1992); and made it back to the finals with his half-old, half-new double-album HIStory: Past, Present and Future Book I (1995).
Barbra Streisand. The diva was nominated for Guilty (1980); was passed over for Emotion (1985); but made it back to the finals with The Broadway Album (1986). Both Guilty and The Broadway Album spawned sequels (two, in the case of The Broadway Album). Don’t hold your breath waiting for Emotion II.