Which 2016 Grammy nominees were used most as MLB walk-up songs last season?
In the overview of the Grammy Award voting process, the Recording Academy notes that the awards are given "by and to artists and technical professionals for artistic or technical achievement, not sales or chart positions." Nowhere, however, does it say that MLB walk-up songs are not taken into voting consideration -- so one might reasonably assume that some voters do take them into consideration.
A rigorous analysis (searching through these lists of team-by-team walk-up selections, along with supplemental materials) has identified which of the top-line Grammy nominees players used to score their walks to the plate during the 2015 MLB season. Here's what we found:
Record of the Year
Nominees: "Really love," D'Angelo and the Vanguard; "Uptown Funk," Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars; "Thinking Out Loud," Ed Sheeran; "Blank Space," Taylor Swift; "Can't Feel My Face," The Weeknd
(Before we begin, please consult this FAQ on the difference between "Record" and "Song" of the year, because I forget every time.)
"Blank Space" and "Can't Feel My Face" were the only nominees used as walk up songs last season (I know, I can't believe no one used "Uptown Funk," either). And while a few Major Leaguers showed an appreciation for "1989" (more on that in a minute), Josh Collmenter was the only one who used "Blank Space" specifically -- probably because he identifies as a nightmare dressed like a daydream.
He and Taylor fall to "Can't Feel My Face" -- both the D-backs' Brandon Drury and Astros' Jake Marisnick used The Weeknd's hit.
Song of the Year
Nominees: "Alright," Kendrick Lamar; "Blank Space," Taylor Swift; "Girl Crush," Little Big Town; "See You Again," Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Pluth; "Thinking Out Loud," Ed Sheeran
Again we have ourselves a two-track race, and again Taylor Swift comes up one short. Collmenter is outnumbered by Ben Revere and Ian Desmond, who both used "Alright," written by Lamar, Kawan Prather, Mark Anthony Spears and Pharrell Williams, as their walk up song in 2015.
Album of the Year
Nominees: "Sound & Color," Alabama Shakes; "To Pimp a Butterfly," Kendrick Lamar; "Traveller," Chris Stapleton; "1989," Taylor Swift; "Beauty Behind the Madness," The Weeknd
We evaluated this category by counting any player who used any track from these albums, and here's the thing: "1989" almost had this won.
First, "To Pimp a Butterfly" came in with three votes -- Revere and Desmond were joined by Joey Votto's use of "The Blacker the Berry" -- but Collmenter, Cole Hamels' "Style," Jay Bruce's "Shake It Off," and Andrew McCutchen's "Bad Blood" helped "1989" top it with four. That would've been enough to beat out "Beauty Behind the Madness," too, up until the end of July. Drury and Marisnick used "Can't Feel My Face," and Xander Bogaert's used "The Hills," giving the album three players. But then, right before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Mets called up Michael Conforto who used … "The Hills."
And so, we have a tie for Album of the Year between The Weeknd and Taylor Swift. But since we already included a Weeknd track …
Best Rap Song
Nominees: "All Day," Kanye West; "Alright," Kendrick Lamar; "Energy," Drake; "Glory," Common and John Legend; "Trap Queen," Fetty Wap
Another close category, with three songs all tied at two players apiece. Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Braun used "All Day," Desmond and Revere used "Alright," and Zach McAllister and Max Scherzer used "Energy" to walk up to the plate. But four players -- Brandon Phillips, Yasmani Grandal, Johnny Monell and Lorenzo Cain -- used "Trap Queen," which may or may not have been the Song of the Summer.
Best Rap Album
Nominees: "2014 Forest Hills Drive," J. Cole; "Compton," Dr. Dre; "If You're Reading This It's Too Late," Drake; "To Pimp a Butterfly," Kendrick Lamar; "The Pinkprint," Nicki Minaj
It was a good effort by Russell Martin, using "Truffle Butter" off "The Pinkprint." Also by the three players -- Desmond, Michael Bourn and Brandon Boesch -- who used J. Cole songs, and the three aforementioned walk ups from "Butterfly." But did you know professional ballplayers really, really like Drake?
NINE players used tracks off of Drake's album in 2015.
McAllister, Scherzer: "Energy"
Jason Castro, Danny Valencia: "10 Bands"
Kevin Plawecki, Will Middlebrooks, Dalton Pompey: "Know Yourself"
Matt Kemp: "Used To"
Mike Trout: "6 God"
So yeah, "If You're Reading This It's Too Late" wins.