Each year after the Grammys, you’ll often see pictures of artists holding a heavy stack of trophies, typically being the biggest winners of the year. But which albums have won the most Grammys? For the purposes of this overview, we’re including Best New Artist and Producer of the Year trophies in these counts if they occurred alongside those Grammy sweeps since those are in no small part a celebration of those corresponding albums.
The two biggest Grammy-winning albums ever are tied with nine trophies apiece. One of those is Santana’s “Supernatural” in 2000. Besides sweeping the general field with “Smooth” (Record and Song of the Year) plus Album of the Year, Santana’s strategy was to submit in as many categories as possible. As such, the album had entries in multiple pop and rock races. Their team even went as far as to arguably fraud an entry in Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, which didn’t allow collaborations at the time, by submitting the hit “María María” as a solo Santana song without its featured artists, The Product G&B, which meant those artists didn’t get a Grammy for the song they performed on. “Supernatural” ended up sweeping, only losing one nomination (Best Pop Collaboration for “Love of My Life” with Dave Matthews) to … another song from the album (the aforementioned “Smooth”).
The other top winning album is U2’s “How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.” It brought home its nine Grammys over the span of two years. First, the lead single “Vertigo” won Best Rock Duo/Group Performance, Best Rock Song, and Best Music Video in 2005. The next year the record swept all of its six noms, including Producer of the Year for Steve Lillywhite, a rock field sweep, Song of the Year (“Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own”), and of course Album of the Year. Record of the Year that year went to Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” which likely would’ve swept rock but wasn’t eligible there since the album “American Idiot” had won Grammys the previous year (nowadays songs from previous Grammy-winning albums aren’t allowed anywhere unless it’s a new version). So U2’s sweep was partially due to the absence of the front-runner in most categories as well as their well-timed two-year strategy.
Big Grammy sweeps happened with other veterans too. The late Ray Charles’s “Genius Loves Company” won a grand total of eight Grammys, including (again) general field awards for Album of the Year and Record of the Year (“Here We Go Again” with Norah Jones — more on her below). Similarly, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’s “Raising Sand” swept its nominations in two consecutive years (2008-2009, winning six total), making it one of the few Americana albums to even get a nom, let alone win, for Album of the Year. Quincy Jones also joins this list twice, first for his own “Back on the Block,” and also for his work on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”; both albums won seven Grammys each.
A Grammy blockbuster in more modern times was Bruno Mars’s “24K Magic.” The album won seven Grammys in 2018, sweeping all of its nominations. Mars dominated the general field, winning Album of the Year, Record of the Year for the title title track, and Song of the Year for “That’s What I Like.” It also won three R&B categories as well as Best Engineered Album, which is often a good indicator of an Album of the Year win. Another Engineered winner that can confirm this is Billie Eilish’s “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” which also won a grand total of seven Grammys in 2020. It swept the general field (Album of the Year, Best New Artist, and Record and Song of the Year for “Bad Guy”), besides winning Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Engineered Album, and an additional Producer of the Year prize for Finneas for his work on the album. And similar to these two, Norah Jones’s “Come Away With Me” also won Best Engineered Album before going ahead to win six more Grammys, including a sweep of all four general field categories and two more in pop.
Finally, some of today’s biggest artists have also had their huge Grammy years of glory. Adele’s “21” won six Grammys in 2012, a feat she would almost repeat in 2017 with her five-time winning album “25.” Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly” won six awards in a two-year span (2015-2016), all in the rap field. Jay Z’s “The Blueprint 3” also followed a similar trajectory, winning three times at the 52nd Grammys (2010) and three times at the 53rd Grammys (2011). Will anyone join this auspicious company this year?
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