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The 13 Most Impressive Grammy Hot Streaks of All Time

Written by on February 24, 2021

Aretha Franklin is the only artist in Grammy history to win in a category eight years running. All hail the Queen!

Every era has had its “Grammy favorites,” the artists who seem to have the inside track at piling up awards and nominations. They are sometimes derisively referred to as “Grammy pets,” mostly by fans of other artists who are not as frequently anointed.

The phenomenon has become less pronounced in the so-called Big Four categories since 1995, when a Nominations Review Committee was formed to determine the final nominees in those categories (album, record and song of the year, plus best new artist). But it still exists. Taylor SwiftKendrick Lamar and Beyoncé are among the contemporary artists who are often picked by the committee.

Here are the eight most impressive Grammy hot streaks of all time in the top category, album of the year — followed by five of the hottest streaks in other categories.

The Beatles: The Fab Four are the only act in Grammy history to receive a Grammy nomination for album of the year in five consecutive years. They were nominated for the Help! soundtrack (1965), Revolver (1966), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967, which won), the Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack (1968) and Abbey Road (1969). The Let It Be soundtrack was passed over in this category in 1970, but after that one-year break, George Harrison was nominated for the 1971 award for his solo blockbuster All Things Must Pass. That gives him album of the year nominations in six out of seven years.

Barbra Streisand: The diva was nominated for album of the year in four consecutive years. She was a contender for The Barbra Streisand Album (1963, which won), People (1964), My Name Is Barbra (1965) and Color Me Barbra (1966). The last two albums named were tie-ins to her first two TV specials. People competed in 1964 with the original cast album from Streisand’s Broadway triumph, Funny Girl. (That nomination went to the composers of the score.)

Frank Sinatra: The legendary star is the only artist in Grammy history to put together two three-year streaks of album of the year nominations. He was nominated every year from 1958-60 and again from 1965-67. He won in three of those six years.

Stevie Wonder: Wonder is the only act in Grammy history to win album of the year with three consecutive studio albums: Innervisions (1973), Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974) and Songs in the Key of Life (1976). Note: Adele could tie Wonder’s record if (and it’s a big “if”) her next studio album wins the award, as her last two, 21 (2011) and 25 (2016), did.

Donald Fagen: Fagen was nominated for album of the year with five consecutive studio albums — his entire output between 1977 and 1993. The hot streak encompasses three Steely Dan albums: Aja (1977), Gaucho (1981) and Two Against Nature (2000, which won) and Fagen’s first two solo albums, The Nightfly (1982) and Kamikiriad (1993).

Billy Joel: Joel was nominated for album of the year with four consecutive studio albums: 52nd Street (1979, which won), Glass Houses (1980), The Nylon Curtain (1982) and An Innocent Man (1983). The Stranger, which turned Joel into a superstar, was released the day before the end of the 1977 eligibility year, too late for it to really register. If it had been released a week later, in the 1978 eligibility year, it would probably have been nominated.

Paul Simon: Simon was nominated for album of the year with four out of five studio albums he released between 1968 and 1975. The hot streak started with Simon & Garfunkel‘s final two studio albums, Bookends (1968) and Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970, which won). Simon’s roll was inexplicably interrupted when his acclaimed solo album Paul Simon (1972) was passed over for a nod, but resumed when There Goes Rhymin’ Simon (1973) and Still Crazy After All These Years (1975) were both nominated. Still Crazy… won.

Sting: Sting was nominated for album of the year with four out of five studio albums he released between 1983 and 1993. The streak started with The Police‘s final studio album, Synchronicity (1983), and continued with Sting’s first two solo albums, The Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985) and Nothing But the Sun (1988). It was interrupted when The Soul Cages (1991) failed to receive a nomination, but picked up again when his next studio album, Ten Summoner’s Tales (1994), did.

How about categories other than album of the year? Here are the longest wins streaks in other categories, starting with Aretha Franklin, the only artist in Grammy history to win in a category eight years running. All hail the Queen!

Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul took the award for best female R&B vocal performance eight years in a row, from 1967-74. Contributing to the streak: such immortal classics as “Respect” and “Chain of Fools.” Oddly, Franklin wasn’t even nominated in 1975, the year Natalie Cole broke her streak. But Franklin came back to win three more times in the category.

Bill Cosby: Before he became a disgraced public figure, Cosby was a multi-media superstar. From 1964-69, he won six consecutive Grammy’s for best comedy album. He was nominated again in 1970 for Live at Madison Square Garden, but lost to an album by the red-hot Flip Wilson. Cosby won again in the category in 1986 for For Those Of You With Or Without Children, You’ll Understand. During his initial Grammy hot streak, he also won four Emmy Awards — three consecutive awards for outstanding actor in leading role in a dramatic series for I Spy and one for outstanding variety or musical program for The Bill Cosby Special.

John Williams: The composer won best original score written for a motion picture or a television special (now called best score soundtrack for visual media) six years running (1977-82) for such classic film scores as Star WarsRaiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. (The Extra-Terrestrial). He was nominated in the category in 1983 as well but lost to Flashdance. Williams has won five additional times in the category (or a closely related category). He has a 42-year span of wins in the category, from 1975 (Jaws) to 2016 (Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

Jimmy Sturr: Sturr won best polka album six years running, from 1986-91. He was nominated in the category in 1992 as well, but lost to Walter Ostanek & His Band. Sturr was nominated in the category for 18 consecutive years (1986-2003). He won 18 times  between 1986 and 2008. In fact, he won all but seven years the award was presented (1985-2008). The category was dropped in 2009 because it wasn’t deemed competitive enough. (Clearly not, if one artist took it 18 times.) Polka recordings now compete for best regional roots music album.

Alison Krauss & Union Station: Six consecutive albums by this ensemble won Grammy’s between 1992 and 2011. The streak consisted of five studio albums and a live album. Five of the albums won for best bluegrass album one for best country album. The group has won 14 Grammy’s to date. Krauss has won 13 additional Grammy’s on her own or with other partners.


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