This Sunday, the Grammy Awards will be given out for the 52nd time. Over their lifespan, nearly 8,000 tiny Victrolas have been given out to all manner of artists. This weekend’s show is one of the more youth-driven and star-studded in recent memory, with Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Dave Matthews Band and the Black Eyed Peas among others performing and competing for awards.
No awards show gets it right every single time, and considering the number of awards they hand out every year, Grammy Awards history is littered with bizarre winners and strange victors. Take a look below at some of the more unusual names with Grammys on their shelves (some of whom have multiple victories). And this list doesn’t even count the head-scratching upsets (like Steely Dan winning Album of the Year in 2001).
Barack Obama: Yes, in addition to being President of the United States and a Nobel Peace Prize, Obama also has two Grammy Awards (one each for Best Spoken Word Album for the audio versions of his two books).
Tia Carrere: She may have been a metalhead in “Wayne’s World,” but Tia Carrere has actually been nominated twice for Best Hawaiian Music Album (with one victory in 2009).
Hillary Clinton: She can’t sing, but Clinton certainly can read, and her performance of her book “It Takes a Village” got her an award in 1997 for Best Spoken Word Album. Husband Bill caught up with her a few years later, when he won back-to-back Spoken Word awards in 2004 and 2005.
Zach Braff: The former star of “Scrubs” won acclaim for his work as the writer and director of “Garden State,” and while the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn’t give him any gold, the “Garden State” soundtrack (on which he was a producer) did win him a Grammy for Best Soundtrack for a Motion Picture in 2005. Considering how important the music was in that film, it was an appropriate win.
Georg Solti: Answer this question quickly: Who has won the most Grammys in history? The Beatles? Elvis Presley? Michael Jackson? While all of them have scored wins in the past, the record for the most wins ever goes to Mr. Solti, who won 31 awards in his lifetime. Most of those wins came as a conductor of orchestras and operas, many with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He won another seven as part of a larger group and was nominated a whopping 112 times total. So in this instance, Georg Solti is bigger than the Beatles (and Jesus, who has never even been nominated).
Joaquin Phoenix: No, he’s never won awards for his budding hip-hop career. Rather, he nabbed an award for being the primary performer on the soundtrack to “Walk the Line,” the biopic that starred Phoenix as Johnny Cash.
Martin Scorsese: Of course one of the greatest film directors in history has scored himself at least one Grammy for his work in music videos. While you would think that he might have won for his work with Michael Jackson on the “Beat It” clip, he actually scored his statuette in 2006 for directing “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan,” a documentary about Dylan’s evolution from folk icon to rock star in the 1960s.
Mikhail Gorbachev: American politicians aren’t the only ones who can take home Grammy Awards. The former General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union won an award in 2004 for (wait for it) Best Spoken Word Album … for Children! With help from Bill Clinton and Sophia Loren, recorded a version of “Peter and the Wolf” that scored the prize. That same year, they also won the prize for Three People I’d Most Like To Party With.
Who is your pick for the strangest winner of a Grammy? Leave your thoughts in the comments!