From Bobbie Gentry to fun.: Grammy's 'big four' club
Posted January 22, 2013
The Feb. 10 Grammy Awards could unfold as a very fun occasion for fun. Four of the band's six nominations are in the marquee categories of best album, record, song and new artist. Only eight other acts in Grammy history have nabbed those key slots in a single year, with just one taking all four trophies.
But could too much fun. on Grammy night lead to a career hangover?
"The only case where Grammy success cursed the artist was Christopher Cross," says Grammy watcher Paul Grein, author of Yahoo.com's Chart Watch blog. "He won all four of these awards, and it all but forced people to say, 'Oh, that's too much' or 'He's not that good.' If he had won just best new artist, people would have said, 'I like him. I'm glad he won.' It's unfair, because it's not his fault he won everything."
Amy Winehouse came close to a sweep, winning three of the four, "but I don't think that had an impact on what happened to her," says Grein, referring to the professional decline that preceded the late singer's death. "It was her personal troubles that brought her down."
Six musicians nailed only one of the four: best new artist. In Grammy math, less may be more.
While Cross enjoyed a flash of fame, "it's better to build gradually than to explode in your first year, because when you do, there's nowhere to go but down," Grein says. "Just two of these eight artists, Mariah Carey and Cyndi Lauper, had enduring success, and Lauper deserved to have an even longer run as a top recording star than she did."
Grammy jump start: In 1967, the 23-year-old became the first country singer to win new artist. She entered the race with seven nominations, all for album Ode to Billie Joe and its title track. She lost best album to The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and record and song to the 5th Dimension's Up, Up and Away but clinched female vocal (beating Aretha Franklin's Respect) and contemporary female solo vocal (over the soul queen's A Natural Woman).
Down the road: Gentry's Fancy album generated a 1970 Grammy nod, her last, and she faded from the spotlight after a series of Las Vegas variety shows in the '70s.
Grammy jump start: In 1980, Cross swept all four top prizes plus best arrangement for his 1979 self-titled debut and its hit Sailing, a grand slam that was widely regarded as excessive and led to his dubious standing as a Grammy cautionary tale and punch line. His album beat Pink Floyd's classic The Wall, further antagonizing young fans who felt voters had yet to catch up with the times.
Down the road: Cross, 29 at his Grammy peak, never won again but did share in a 1981 best original song Oscar for co-writing Arthur's Theme with Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allen. None of his releases matched the commercial success of his start, and he hasn't pushed a single into the top 10 since 1983's Think of Laura. He wrote Lemon's Theme for 2010's 30 Rock soundtrack.
Grammy jump start: At 31, Lauper won new artist but failed to triumph in the Triple Crown of album, song and record in 1985. She's So Unusual lost to Lionel Richie's Can't Slow Down album, and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Time After Time lost record and song, respectively, to Tina Turner's What's Love Got to Do With It.
Down the road: Lauper has won no additional Grammys, though she received another nine nominations and enjoyed huge critical and commercial success with Unusual follow-up True Colors. Recent albums have sold modestly and hits have dwindled, but the quirky pop star has maintained a loyal following and high profile.
Grammy jump start: The folkie, 24, led the 1988 Grammy competition with six nods, winning new artist, female pop vocal for breakthrough hit Fast Car and contemporary folk for her self-titled debut. The latter lost best album to George Michael's Faith, and Fast Car was eclipsed in song and record by Bobby McFerrin's frothy Don't Worry, Be Happy.
Down the road: Chapman's celebrity deflated almost as quickly as it exploded, though her career weathered trends and she continued to release lauded works, earning another seven Grammy nods. She landed a fourth win in 1996, best rock song, for Give Me One Reason.
Grammy jump start: The youngest to be nominated for all four top awards, Carey was 20 when she became 1990's Grammy ingénue. She won new artist and female pop vocal for Vision of Love, which lost best song to Bette Midler's From A Distance and record to Phil Collins' Another Day in Paradise. Carey's self-titled debut was edged in best album by Quincy Jones' Back on the Block.
Down the road: Carey's Grammy kickoff only hinted at her future of global fame, record-breaking chart runs and platinum sales. She piled up another 29 nominations, winning three 2005 R&B Grammys.
Grammy jump start: The singer/songwriter was 29 when she took the 1997 best new artist honors, the only Grammy of her career. Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind spoiled a shot at the album award for This Fire, and top 10 single Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? lost song and record to Shawn Colvin's Sunny Came Home.
Down the road: Cole has released three studio albums since This Fire. The most recent, 2010's Ithaca, failed to chart, and no singles since Cowboys have cracked Billboard's Hot 100.
Grammy jump start: Of the eight artists in the big four club, only Arie failed to capture the new artist trophy, which went to Alicia Keys. The 26-year-old singer in fact went home empty-handed in 2001 after starting the race with seven nominations, including best album for Acoustic Soul. It was swept aside by the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Arie's Video lost song to Keys' Fallin' and record to U2's Walk On.
Down the road: Arie's career has thrived, with three subsequent studio albums making their debut in the top 10, and her Grammy magnetism improved almost immediately. She won two Grammys in 2002, one in 2009 and another in 2010, adding 14 nominations to her opening batch.
Grammy jump start: In 2007, the talented but troubled British singer captivated U.S. audiences with raw, soulful album Back to Black. She was anointed best new artist at 24 and won record and song for Rehab. Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters took the best album prize, thwarting Winehouse's chances to match the Cross sweep. She also waltzed away with female pop vocal and pop vocal album.
Down the road: As Winehouse struggled with addiction, her career suffered and she died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011. She posthumously won the 2011 pop duo/group Grammy for her Body and Soul duet with Tony Bennett.
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