Could this be the year ABBA finally win at the Grammys?

To many, one of the biggest surprises of this year’s Grammy nominations was the inclusion of ABBA in multiple categories. The legendary pop quartet definitely had a hit album with their latest, “Voyage,” but few expected them to overperform with four nominations. They’re nominated for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album for “Voyage,” as well as Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their single “Don’t Shut Me Down.” These nominations could be seen as just the Grammys giving an older act a pat on the back. However, with no Grammys on their very extensive mantel of awards, is this finally the time for the group to take one (or more) home?

ABBA have a lot going for them. First, they’re the current odds-on favorites to win Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. This is due, in part, to the fact that they’re the only nominees in the category who are also nominated for Record of the Year. A general field nomination is not necessarily what seals the deal (Jazmine Sullivan won Best R&B Album last year over eventual Album of the Year winner Jon Batiste, for example), but it could still be a good indicator of overall support.

That said, pop voters do typically lean towards smash hits in the category, and ABBA’s song is arguably the lowest-profile out of the pack. However, as Lady Gaga’s “Joanne” win in Best Pop Solo Performance proved in 2019, sometimes the Grammys go for smaller songs that mean much more to them. With the lack of a more sentimental song here, perhaps ABBA could ride the wave of nostalgia to a win, especially with “Don’t Shut Me Down” sounding so much like a quintessential ABBA song.

Another important factor for ABBA is their competition. Post Malone and Doja Cat’s “I Like You (A Happier Song)” could manage the win, but pop voters seem to be lukewarm on Malone. Then there’s Camila Cabello and Ed Sheeran’s “Bam Bam,” but given that the song wasn’t a huge hit in the US and that both Sheeran and Cabello missed out on nominations everywhere else, they should probably be grateful just to be nominated.

Coldplay and BTS have a good shot at a win for their number-one hit “My Universe,” especially with the news of BTS’ hiatus. That said, Coldplay are perennial losers in the pop field — their last Grammy win overall was more than a decade ago — so there’s a chance voters just pass over “My Universe.” Perhaps ABBA’s biggest competition is Sam Smith and Kim Petras’s “Unholy,” but given that song’s sound and subject matter, it might be a little too progressive for traditional Grammy voters. Not to mention that all the other non-ABBA nominees appeal to younger audiences, so ABBA could monopolize the older voting bloc.

The deciding factor in ABBA’s possible win will likely be how many voters know the band is Grammy-less. Many might simply assume that such a legendary band must have a Grammy for one of their iconic hits. But if voters are aware that their first nomination was just last year and that this would be their first Grammy win, they might be compelled to finally honor the band. After all, Smith, Doja Cat, Coldplay, and Sheeran all have won Grammys in the past, and there’s no real rush to award Petras. Voters could want to finally award Malone and BTS given how influential they’ve been in the last few years. But ABBA are older and will likely have fewer chances of recognition going forward than mainstays like Malone and BTS.

If you think ABBA is out of the race, think again. They could even overperform and take home another Grammy, perhaps Album of the Year or Best Pop Vocal Album. In years with so many big names, sometimes it’s good to take a look at the contender who stands out as different, and this year that could be ABBA’s ’70s pop sensibilities coming in full swing. And we’ve seen veterans get their due before like Beck and Robert Plant. So perhaps there’s space for the “Dancing Queen” legends among the voters’ choices.

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