Why Coldplay Have a Real Shot at Winning Album of the Year at the 2021 Grammys

coldplay album of year grammy
A still from the “Orphans” video by Coldplay, who could really win Album of the Year.

As music fans continue to feverishly debate all the Grammy snubs this year, two artists have been mentioned most often as the ones that fans believe took away nominations from more deserving acts: Justin Bieber and Coldplay.

The Bieber hate is understandable, as his behavior over the years has turned him into somewhat of a love-him-or-hate-him figure, and “Yummy” was an especially polarizing single. Coldplay, meanwhile, seem to be some of the nicest guys on the planet. But many are upset that they nabbed an Album of the Year nomination that could have gone to the Weeknd, Fiona Apple, Harry Styles, or any number of other worthy acts.

Many fans have no memory of Coldplay even releasing an album last year. In fact, Everyday Life came out back in November 2019, but that does fall within the Grammy eligibility timeline. It only reached #7 on the U.S. album chart, making it their lowest-charting studio album in 20 years.

For those reasons, it would be easy to dismiss Coldplay’s chances in Album of the Year. But the fact is that they’ve got a real shot to win this thing. In fact, our prediction is that they finish a close second behind Taylor Swift.

Here’s why Coldplay might win Album of the Year, and what that might mean for the Grammy Awards and for music fans everywhere.

Can Coldplay Win Album of the Year?

If this year’s Album of the Year nominees were the Democratic primary field, Coldplay would be the Joe Biden of the group: unexciting, a little past their prime, and not groundbreaking in any way, but still a steady, play-it-safe choice that won’t offend anyone.

Chris Martin’s group is one of several left-field names among the Album of the Year nominees, along with Jacob Collier, Jhene Aiko, and Black Pumas.

Might Grammy voters grudgingly settle on Coldplay the way Dem primary voters flirted with numerous other candidates before settling on Biden? It’s definitely possible. Taylor Swift is the main obstacle standing in their way. (Who would’ve thought that Taylor Swift vs. Coldplay would be the big battle at the 2021 Grammys?)

We expect Swift to win Album of the Year for Folklore. But Swift has already won it twice before, and this is her fourth nomination. If mainstream Grammy voters have tired of her, they’ll turn to someone else. And that will probably be either Dua Lipa or Coldplay.

Keep in mind that Coldplay have already proven to be Grammy favorites. They won Record of the Year in 2004 for “Clocks” and Song of the Year in 2009 for “Viva La Vida.” In both cases, they appeared to be the safe, fallback choice for voters who simply didn’t like any of the other options. That dynamic could very well play out again in 2021.

What Happens if Coldplay Win?

Grammy history is loaded with Album of the Year winners that angered and confused people. Bruno Mars over Kendrick Lamar. Beck over Beyonce. Herbie Hancock over Kanye West. Steely Dan over Eminem.

Coldplay defeating this field would absolutely join that list as one of the great injustices in Grammy history.

Don’t misunderstand – we’ve always liked Coldplay. A Rush of Blood to the Head is a five-star record with a permanent place on our list of desert-island discs. Parachutes was equally brilliant. We even dig some of their critically-derided 2010s singles, such as “A Sky Full of Stars,” “Something Like This,” and the Beyonce collab “Hymn for the Weekend.” This is a good band with an impressive discography.

Everyday Life is pleasant enough, with some real highlights, including the poppy energy of “Orphans” and the vibrant brass section and eastern elements of “Arabesque.” But the album was not remotely close to being one of the best of this year.

This is one of those awards that even Coldplay probably hope they don’t win. Because winning would just upset a lot of music fans and put a target on their backs, in much the same way that Bon Iver winning Best New Artist over Nicki Minaj in 2012 still rankles many in the hip hop and pop communities.

Taylor Swift is definitely the Album of the Year favorite. But don’t be surprised if Coldplay end up pulling out the win, even if that causes an outrage storm of epic proportions.

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