Grammys 2017: For Adele, having the year’s bestselling album may help her take down Beyonce for Album of the Year

In looking at Billboard’s list of the top-selling albums of 2016, we see that four out of this year’s five Grammy nominees for Album of the Year are on the chart. Not only that, but the four nominees that charted occupy the top four slots on Billboard’s year-end ranking. So does having one of the year’s best-sellers strongly influence your chances to win?

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Adele‘s “25” topped the list in the #1 position. “Views” by Drake came in at #2, followed by “Purpose” by Justin Bieber at #3 and “Lemonade” by Beyonce at #4. Surprise nominee “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” by Sturgill Simpson did not make the year-end chart, though the album did spend eight weeks on the Billboard 200, peaking at #3.

Since Billboard began publishing the year-end album charts in 1969, the highest selling Album of the Year nominee has won 19 times over the past 47 ceremonies (40% of the time). Ten of those winners were #1 on the year-end chart: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel (1970), “Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac (1977), “‘Saturday Night Fever’: The Original Movie Soundtrack” by the Bee Gees and various artists (1978), “52nd Street” by Billy Joel (1979), “Thriller” by Michael Jackson (1983), “Faith” by George Michael (1988), “‘The Bodyguard’: Original Soundtrack Album” by Whitney Houston (1993), “Fearless” by Taylor Swift (2009), “21” by Adele (2011) and “1989” by Taylor Swift (2015).

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This could be promising for Adele this year since those 10 wins account for 63% of the year-end #1s to get nominated for Album of the Year. She’s currently in second place in Gold Derby’s forecast with 21/10 odds of prevailing. Six others that topped Billboard’s year-end chart were nominated for Album of the Year but ultimately lost the prize: “‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ (London Production)” by the London cast (1971), “Frampton Comes Alive!” by Peter Frampton (1976), “The Wall” by Pink Floyd (1980), “Millennium” by Backstreet Boys (1999), “The Eminem Show” by Eminem (2002) and “Confessions” by Usher (2004).

The nine other winners that were the highest charting of the nominated albums were: “Blood, Sweat & Tears” by Blood, Sweat & Tears in 1969 (#3 on Billboard’s chart), “Innervisions” by Stevie Wonder in 1973 (#4 the following year), “Double Fantasy” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1981 (#2), “Can’t Slow Down” by Lionel Richie in 1984 (#3), “No Jacket Required” by Phil Collins in 1985 (#6), “Graceland” by Paul Simon in 1986 (#2 the following year), “Falling Into You” by Celine Dion in 1996 (#3), “Taking the Long Way” by the Dixie Chicks in 2006 (#16) and “Babel” by Mumford & Sons in 2012 (#7).

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Gold Derby’s current frontrunner is “Lemonade” by Beyonce, which currently has 9/10 odds of winning. If she were to win, she would join just five other albums (11%) that have won this prize while being in fourth place among the nominated albums in terms of sales: “Christopher Cross” by Christopher Cross in 1980 (#17), “Toto IV” by Toto in 1982 (#41), “Nick of Time” by Bonnie Raitt in 1989 (#55), “Back on the Block” by Quincy Jones and various artists in 1990 (#31) and “Genius Loves Company” by Ray Charles in 2004 (#51).

The low percentage of success for albums in this position is a statistical disadvantage for Beyonce. However, her momentum and year-leading amount of nominations (nine) give her a strong chance of countering that.

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Being the second highest charting of the nominees could help Drake. Should he pull off a victory here, he would join eight other AOTY winners (17%) that were the second highest charters: “Tapestry” by Carole King in 1971 (#2), “The Concert for Bangladesh” by George Harrison & Friends in 1972 (#16), “Songs in the Key of Life” by Stevie Wonder in 1976 (#2 the following year), “The Joshua Tree” by U2 in 1987 (#6), “Unplugged” by Eric Clapton in 1992 (#36), “Jagged Little Pill” by Alanis Morissette in 1995 (#14), “Two Against Nature” by Steely Dan in 2000 (#127) and “‘O’ Brother, Where Art Thou?’ Soundtrack” by various artists in 2001 (#23).

But despite its high chart position “Views” is currently in last place in our predictions with 7/1 odds.

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The third highest charting album, “Purpose,” could join nine previous winners (19%) that have triumphed from that position: “Still Crazy After All These Years” by Paul Simon in 1975 (#14 the following year), “Unforgettable…with Love” by Natalie Cole in 1991 (#18 the following year), “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” by Lauryn Hill in 1998 (#24), “Supernatural” by Santana in 1999 (#20), “Come Away With Me” by Norah Jones in 2002 (#30), “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” by OutKast in 2003 (#29), “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” by U2 in 2005 (#8), “Raising Sand” by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss in 2008 (#39) and “Random Access Memories” by Daft Punk in 2013 (#19).

Bieber is currently in third place in our predictions center (7/1 odds), so he could be a threat in this category.

If Sturgill Simpson were to win, he would join just three other winners (6%) of Album of the Year that never charted on Billboard’s list of year-end chart toppers at all: “Fulfillingness’ First Finale” by Stevie Wonder (1974), “MTV Unplugged” by Tony Bennett (1994) and “River: The Joni Letters” by Herbie Hancock (2007).

Simpson is currently in fourth place at Gold Derby (7/1 odds) but being the only country album going against two pop acts and two R&B/rap acts could give him a path to an upset victory.

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