Grammys: Could ABBA win Record of the Year with their first-ever nomination?

It’s hard to deny the legendary status of ABBA. Ever since they won Eurovision in 1974 the quartet has had an amazing career with smash hits that still hold up like “Dancing Queen,” “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (A Man After Midnight),” and “Mamma Mia,” among many, many others. So it’s hard to believe the group never received a Grammy nomination — that is, until the 2022 Grammys, where ABBA’s “I Still Have Faith In You” from their comeback record “Voyage” was nominated for Record of the Year. However, how likely is it for ABBA to actually pull off a surprise win here?

The Grammys love to give career awards. In recent years we have seen artists like Leonard Cohen, Ledisi, Tanya Tucker, and Nas all win overdue Grammys — posthumously in Cohen’s case. Tucker and Nas weren’t predicted to be nominated in their respective years, but when they made the cut they became front-runners. So in that way there’s a path for ABBA, even if they might’ve barely made it in the category (it’s their only nomination). Lots of voters could be galvanized by how dirty ABBA has been done by the Grammys and decide to give them a win, especially in a year when really the only other older veteran act nominated is Tony Bennett. It helps that ABBA has also been having a resurgence due to TikTok, where they’ve trended multiple songs, putting them on the radar of even younger voters who might not feel the nostalgia for the group.

One could argue that ABBA’s win was out of the question the minute they missed Pop Duo/Group Performance (if they couldn’t get nominated there, voters must not be that into it), but that’s not necessarily true. First and foremost, they could be stronger in final-round voting than they were in the first round; while a lot of voters might not have given much thought to the new music ABBA released in 2021, academy members who voted for winners were presented with ABBA on their screens in a lineup of just nine other songs on the ballot. And since ABBA is known far and wide, they might appeal to voters across genres, especially with pop voters being oriented to younger acts these days.

But what could really push ABBA over the edge is vote-splitting. With so many young pop acts nominated — like Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish, Justin Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo, and Doja Cat — as well as artists who might be more niche like Jon Batiste and Brandi Carlile, ABBA could really stand out as a nominee that’s known and respected by pretty much everyone, from older jazz voters to contemporary R&B ones. And knowing about ABBA’s lack of Grammy love in their history could inspire one to toss a vote their way if they don’t really feel passionate about the rest of the nominees or want to spread the love a bit among different artists.

Make no mistake, though. A win for ABBA would be deserved. Not only is “I Still Have Faith In You” quite different from your standard modern ROTY nominee, but it’s in a way a reminder of how much music has changed. Still, even with how sonically different it might sound among its contemporaries, it’s an essential ABBA song and can remind voters of how influential this pop group has been in soundtracking most of our lives. So even if “Faith” isn’t your favorite ABBA song, wouldn’t it be nice to see an unexpected win for such an overdue group? Besides, with how monotonous general field sweeps can be, it’d be interesting to see someone break up the pattern a bit. It doesn’t always seem like it, but sometimes voters don’t have to give Billie Eilish and Bruno Mars everything every year.

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