Everyone thought Beyonce's self-titled triumph had album of the year on lockdown at the 2015 Grammys. And everyone was wrong. Beck's Morning Phase shocked everyone (especially Beck) by nabbing the honor, and Kanye West shocked no one by going on a rant to E! about how "Beck needs to respect artistry and he should've given his award to Beyonce." But Beck wasn't sore, telling Us Weekly, "I still love [Kanye] and think he's a genius." Pretty unlikely he's handing that trophy over to Bey, though.
At the 2014 Grammys, hip-hop fans lost their minds when Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' The Heist beat Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d city for best rap album. The confusion was understandable: Though The Heist produced a few major hits, good kid was recognized as an instant masterpiece.
While comparing Bon Iver to Nicki Minaj is like comparing Wisconsin apples to oranges with fake British accents, it was a huge surprise when the indie darlings beat the first massive female rapper in years for best new artist in 2012. Why? Well, the Grammys sort of went through an indie phase. Exhibit B….
Not a bad choice, but a surprising one. The public was not expecting Arcade Fire's The Suburbs to take album of the year at the 2011 Grammys, especially when Katy Perry's Teenage Dream was the ubiquitous album that year. While nearly every music critic preferred the former to the latter, it was surprising the Recording Academy went with the elite vs. the popular choice. After all, Perry's album scored five No. 1 hits -- tying a record previously set by Michael Jackson.
It was shocking when Esperanza Spalding won the best new artist Grammy in 2011. The surprise stemmed from many sources: Her first album came out in 2006 and she was a relative unknown, but mainly because she defeated heavy-hitting favorites like Drake and Justin Bieber. The other two nominees were no slouches either: Florence + the Machine and Mumford & Sons. This one is a Grammy puzzle for the ages.
Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" was a significant hit for the rockers, but it was a huge surprise when the track bested year-defining songs like Beyonce's "Halo," Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" and Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" for record of the year in 2010. That being said, Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" beat this KoL track in the 2010 song of the year category.
Herbie Hancock is a legend in more than one style of jazz, and he's created stone-cold classics that will stand the test of time. But his Joni Mitchell covers album, River: The Joni Letters, may not be one of those albums. Regardless, it beat Amy Winehouse's massive-selling, critically-acclaimed Back to Black for album of the year at the 2008 Grammys.
Similar to Herbie Hancock, Steely Dan are an undeniably classic act that surprisingly won album of the year Grammy honors in 2000. After album of the year noms for Aja and Gaucho decades earlier, the duo won for their reunion album, a well-received but not essential LP called Two Against Nature. Eminem, whose The Marshall Mathers LP lost that year, responded simply, "Who the fuck is Steely Dan?"
Lionel Richie's Can't Slow Down was a massive seller and it remains a classic, but the same could be said times ten for Prince's immortal Purple Rain. Regardless, Richie beat Prince's magnum opus for the 1985 album of the year Grammy, as well as three other classics: Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A., Tina Turner's Private Dancer and Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual. In retrospect, the Prince snub seems most egregious.
Frank Sinatra's immortal recording of "Theme From New York, New York" somehow lost the 1981 record of the year Grammy to Christopher Cross for "Sailing." Cross actually swept all four major Grammy categories in 1981 before fading into obscurity. Unlike most one-album wonders, his output seems scrubbed from the public's memory entirely, making his victory over Sinatra seem even stranger these days.
A Taste of Honey, a one-hit-wonder band of the disco era, actually beat Elvis Costello for best new artist back in 1979. Yes, at one point, the majority of the Recording Academy was more impressed with the group behind "Boogie Oogie Oogie" than the guy behind the classic debut album My Aim Is True.
In 1970, Joe South's "Games People Play" was deemed song of the year over B.J. Thomas' "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," one of the most beloved Burt Bacharach/Hal David compositions. While Joe South has rightly faded into obscurity (along with his signature song), Bacharach remains one of the most celebrated songwriters of the second half of the 20th century -- and "Raindrops" is one of his key compositions. The Recording Academy is lucky Butch Cassidy didn't show up to that awards ceremony.
Frank Sinatra is one of the few vocal pop icons with several start-to-finish classic studio albums to his name. A Man and His Music, a double album consisting mostly of re-recorded versions of past hits, is not one of them, however. Astoundingly, this Sinatra-covering-Sinatra album beat the Beatles' game-changing Revolver for album of the year in 1967.
5 Biggest Upsets in Grammy History | Billboard News