Will Bjork finally win a Grammy? The Icelandic singer has been nominated a whopping 13 times in her career without a single win. If she loses her 14th bid this year she will tie jazz musician Toshiko Akiyoshi and country singer Martina McBride as the fourth most nominated artist without a victory. Brian McKnight and Snoop Dogg top that ignoble list with 16 unsuccessful bids apiece.
Six of Bjork’s losses have been for Best Alternative Album. She’s nominated again this year for “Vulnicura,” her ninth studio disc. She currently holds the record for the most nominations in this race for a solo artist, and she also has the most bids here without a win.
To win, she’ll have to overcome another hurdle: the academy’s bias against female alternative artists. Only three women have won this award since it was created in 1990. Sinead O’Connor won the first year it was handed out for “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.” Meg White won three times as one half of the White Stripes (“Elephant” in 2003, “Get Behind Me Satan” in 2005, “Icky Thump” in 2007). And St. Vincent prevailed for her eponymous fourth album last year.
St. Vincent’s win should give Bjork the most hope, having broken the nearly quarter-century drought for solo women.
But Bjork will have to get past Alabama Shakes. They compete for the first time in this category for their sophomore album, “Sound and Color,” They have four nominations in all this year, including Album of the Year. A nomination in that top category usually indicates strength in the genre fields, but it’s not an insurmountable advantage. The last album to compete in both categories was “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire; they won Album of the Year, but paradoxically lost Best Alternative Album to the Black Keys (“Brothers”).
Alabama Shakes is fronted by Brittany Howard, so if they win they too would defy this category’s usual gender bias.
The veteran band Wilco are also formidable opponents. They’re the only nominees in this category who are already Grammy-winners. They won this prize for “A Ghost is Born” in 2004. This year they contend for their self-released ninth album “Star Wars.”
My Morning Jacket are nominated for “The Waterfall,” which is their seventh album and third to be nominated in this race, following “Evil Urges” (2008) and “Circuital” (2011). They have yet to win a Grammy in any category.
Rounding out this field are Tame Impala, who are also seeking their first Grammy victory. The Australian band is nominated for “Currents,” their third album. They were previously nominated in this category for “Lonerism” (2013).
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“Vulnicura” photo credit: One Little Indian Records