Radiohead - OK Computer (release year 1997)
Radiohead's record was so great that even though the Grammys are not a big fan of great rock, there seemed to be no way to keep this album from being nominated in 1998. Radiohead had gone into the studio with songs that would have been excellent if they were just played acoustically but the band made the tracks into something very different than everything else. A song like "Paranoid Android" was kin to Pink Floyd, but more like Pink Floyd's younger brother who had a mean streak.
The album is at times airy, at times straight-forward rock, at times completely electronic, but always incredible. Nearly 30 years later, the record still feels fresh and new and pushing boundaries. It took a brave band with immense talent to create such a piece of art and that is exactly what Radiohead was. They were (and still are) like Rush but with a much better imagination.
The other nominees in 1998 included Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind (which won because people think it's cool to honor Dylan for everything he does whether the work merits that or not), Babyface's The Day, Paul McCartney's Flaming Pie, and Paula Cole's This Fire. All these years later, many still listen to the Radiohead album or are interested in hearing it for the first time while the other albums have diminished. Except for Cole because no one even knows who she is.