42 of the most-nominated artists who have never won a Grammy

With the 60th Grammy Awards right around the corner, now is the time to revisit past winners and losers. Or, in this case, just the losers. By our estimation, the Recording Academy (who determines the winners) may not always get it right. Many of the greatest bands of the last five decades didn’t walk home with a Grammy Award at the height of their success. Hopefully that provides some solidarity to the many artists out there who’ve been nominated multiple times but have never earned a statue.

In the spirit of the season, Stacker has compiled a list of the greatest runner-ups in Grammy Awards history. For the data we went straight to the source, i.e. the official Grammy website. Suffice to say, while no one likes to lose, most of these artists have millions of albums sold to their name. In other words, we don’t imagine any of these musicians have difficulty sleeping at night, regardless of how barren their mantels might be. Will 2018 be the year that some of the artists on the list finally win? Tune in on January 28 to find out. Until then, they remain the most-nominated artists who have never won a Grammy.  

1 / 42


#42. Teddy Pendergrass

Nominations: 5

Most recent nomination: 1993

Originally the lead singer for Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass ascended to even greater fame thanks to his successful solo career. And while a 1982 car accident left him paralyzed from the chest down, that didn’t stop him from recording a number of hit songs, at least a few of which earned Grammy nominations for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. Sadly, he never won before his death in 2010.

2 / 42

MikaV // Wikicommons

#41. Aaliyah

Nominations: 5

Most recent nomination: 2002

Hip-hop star Aaliyah was at the top of the world when she died in a tragic plane crash at the tender age of 22. During her short career she was an incredibly popular singer and a talented actress as well, starring in movies like “Romeo Must Die” and “Queen of the Damned.” “Try Again” (from the “Romeo Must Die” soundtrack) remains her biggest hit, and the song garnered her a Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 2001. Had Aaliyah not passed away, there’s virtually no doubt she would have at least one Grammy Award sitting on her mantel by now.  

3 / 42

Thesupermat // Wikicommons

#40. James Blunt

Nominations: 5

Most recent nomination: 2006

Former British Army officer James Hillier Blount is better known as crooner James Blunt. His biggest hit to date, “You’re Beautiful,” racked up five Grammy nominations in a single year, but failed to win in any category. Of course, that won’t stop the song from getting stuck in your head over a decade later.

4 / 42

Nightshooter // Wikicommons

#39. Kid Rock

Nominations: 5

Most recent nomination: 2008

When not dating Playboy models or running for Senate (is that still happening or what?), Detroit’s Kid Rock has enjoyed quite the illustrious career as a recording artist. The trailer park-born talent was nominated for Best New Artist in 2000 in addition to his other nominations. Sure, he’s never taken home the gold trophy, but he has all the money in the world to make up for it.

5 / 42

Nir Nussbaum // Wikicommons

#38. Depeche Mode

Nominations: 5

Most recent nomination: 2009

For proof that the Grammys almost never have their finger on the pulse of youth culture, look no further than the fact that the U.K.’s Depeche Mode has never won the award. Their early efforts might have been spotty (and, at times, cheesy), but late ‘80s albums like “Music for the Masses” and “Violator” demonstrated the band perfecting their lush, synth-pop sound. It wasn’t until the mid-‘90s that Depeche Mode scored their first Grammy nomination, and maybe one day in the near future they’ll win. Better late than never, after all.

6 / 42

Stuart Sevastos // Wikicommons

#37. Nickelback

Nominations: 5

Most recent nomination: 2009

As the band that most folks love to hate, Nickelback’s lack of Grammy wins probably doesn’t have anyone up in arms. In fact, some music lovers out there might think it’s a crime the Canadian rock group was even nominated in the first place. Nevertheless, Nickelback has five nominations to its name, including Record of the Year for 2002’s “How You Remind Me.”

7 / 42

cbudd // Pixabay

#36. J. Cole

Nominations: 5

Most recent nomination: 2015

Before he was a best-selling rapper and sought-after producer, J. Cole worked at an ice skating rink, where he would occasionally dress up as their kangaroo mascot. It all just goes to show that every dream has to start somewhere. Cole has a total of five Grammy nominations but no wins.

8 / 42

Kathy Hutchins /

#35. Khalid

Nominations: 5

Most recent nomination: 2017

Hit singer Khalid recently burst onto the scene with the track “Location,” and kept the hits coming on his debut album “American Teen.” All his Grammy nominations are for work released in 2017, which technically means he hasn’t lost any awards just yet. Hence, this may be the first — and last — time he’s ever on our list.

9 / 42

Fuse Box Radio // Wikicommons

#34. SZA

Nominations: 5

Most recent nomination: 2017

Growing up in the ‘90s, R&B singer SZA had a fondness for Drew Barrymore films such as “Never Been Kissed” and “Poison Ivy.” That might help explain the dual themes of whimsical nostalgia and aggressive sexuality that frequently permeate her songs. Like Khalid, all five of SZA’s Grammy nominations (including Best New Artist) are for the 2018 award ceremony. Good luck!

10 / 42 // Wikicommons

#33. Public Enemy

Nominations: 6

Most recent nomination: 1994

Comprised of social activist Chuck D and his zany, iconic cohort Flavor Flav, Public Enemy busted through the industry doors in 1986 and began changing the cultural landscape. With lyrics that were at once intelligent, political, and controversial, the famous duo put all of America’s racial misdeeds front and center, raising tons of awareness in the process. To this day Public Enemy’s influence can be seen throughout the entire hip-hop sphere. That they never won a Grammy feels negligible next to their substantial contributions to both music and culture.

11 / 42

InSapphoWeTrust // Flickr

#32. Tupac Shakur

Nominations: 6

Most recent nomination: 1999

A controversial figure if there ever was one, rapper Tupac Shakur came up tackling social injustice through song before succumbing to the pitfalls of street life. To this day, his legacy remains shrouded in both mystery and contradiction. A few things remain crystal clear, however: he was a singular and phenomenal artist who consistently churned out great music and died well before his time. His last Grammy nomination came in 1999 for the posthumous track “Changes”, which provided a fitting retread into his earlier days as a thoughtful provocateur.  

12 / 42


#31. Tamia Hill

Nominations: 6

Most recent nomination: 2012

With a career spanning two decades, Canadian singer-songwriter Tamia Hill (better known as just Tamia) is no stranger to comebacks. In fact, her 2012 song “Beautiful Surprise” was her first big hit in six years. In other words, it’s never too late for Tamia to pop up with another massively popular track and finally take home a trophy.

13 / 42

U.S Air Forces Central Command

#30. En Vogue

Nominations: 7

Most recent nomination: 1996

Often pointed to as one of the best female vocalist groups of all time, En Vogue debuted in 1990 and enjoyed a meteoric rise, peaking in 1996 with their third hit single, “Don’t Let Go (Love).” In 1997, they released “EV3,” their third album. It sold well and earned a Grammy nomination, but also represented a drop in momentum from which the group never completely recovered.

14 / 42

Anirudh Koul // Wikicommons

#29. Backstreet Boys

Nominations: 7

Most recent nomination: 2001

At the height of the boy band craze came the Backstreet Boys, a group of five singers and dancers who churned out hit single after hit single. In 1998 they received a key to Orlando, Florida, the city where they were first discovered. They also have a healthy supply of Billboard Music Awards, American Music Awards, and MTV Video Awards. But alas, no Grammys.  

15 / 42

Sebi Ryffel // Wikicommons

#28. Queens of the Stone Age

Nominations: 7

Most recent nomination: 2017

Formed in the mid-‘90s, California outfit Queens of the Stone Age are known for heavy riffs and occasional collaborations with artists like Dave Grohl. Their most recent album “Villains” was released in 2017 and is currently nominated for a 2018 Grammy Award. In other words, the band will either be a little higher on our list or off the list entirely by this time next year.

16 / 42

Daniel Benavides // Wikicommons

#27. Childish Gambino

Nominations: 7

Most recent nomination: 2017

When Donald Glover isn’t acting in, writing, producing, and directing hit TV shows, he’s recording popular music under the moniker Childish Gambino. His first Grammy nominations came in 2014 for the album “Because the Internet” and the track “3005,” respectively. In 2018 he’s up for five awards. Should he fail to win any of them, he’ll probably be too busy to even notice.

17 / 42

Vitor Mazuco // Wikicommons

#26. Avril Lavigne

Nominations: 8

Most recent nomination: 2003

Canadian rocker Avril Lavigne was just 16 years old when she signed a two-album deal with Arista Records. What followed was a wildly successful string of hits, amounting to more than 40 million albums sold by 2013. Lavigne’s infectious pop-punk sensibilities have earned her plenty of acclaim, as well as her fair share of awards, but no Grammy Awards to date.  

18 / 42

Matteo Chinellato // Shutterstock

#25. Sia

Nominations: 9

Most recent nomination: 2017

In addition to recording her own popular music, Australian singer-songwriter Sia pens hit singles for fellow artists like Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Beyonce. In fact, according to legend, it took Sia all of 14 minutes to write Rihanna’s hit song “Diamonds.” As if all that wasn’t enough, Sia is also an acclaimed video director and performance artist. Needless to say, her talents are certainly worthy of at least a few Grammy Awards. To date, she only has nominations.  

19 / 42

Bill Ebbesen // Wikicommons

#24. Wiz Khalifa

Nominations: 10

Most recent nomination: 2015

Rarely seen without smoke coming out of his mouth, Wiz Khalifa once claimed he spends about $10,000 a month on marijuana. That didn’t stop his native city of Pittsburgh from declaring it “Wiz Khalifa Day” on December 12, 2012, however. Nor has all that smoking prevented the young artist from recording tons of hit songs, which has earned him plenty of cash and no less than 10 Grammy nominations.  

20 / 42

Eva Rinaldi // Flickr

#23. Nicki Minaj

Nominations: 10

Most recent nomination: 2015

Trinidadian rapper Nicki Minaj hit the Billboard number one spot with her debut album “Pink Friday,” and has been a pop culture mainstay ever since. In addition to her slew of Grammy nominations, Minaj was also the inspiration for a limited edition Barbie Doll that was auctioned off by Mattel for charity.

21 / 42

Peterappelros // Wikicommons

#22. Elly Ameling

Nominations: 11

Most recent nomination: 1990

Most of those tuning in to watch the Grammys aren’t necessarily perking up when the classical categories are announced. For that reason alone, the name Elly Ameling might not ring a bell. However, the Dutch soprano singer carved out a highly respectable career for herself, recording more than 150 albums of classical works. In the Netherlands Ameling is literally royalty; she was knighted in 1971.  

22 / 42

Angela George // Wikicommons

#21. Vanessa L. Williams

Nominations: 11

Most recent nomination: 1997

These days you might be more likely to find Vanessa Williams acting on television, writing memoirs, or designing popular fashion lines, but in the 1990s she was a musical force to be reckoned with. That was when she recorded hit songs like “Save the Best for Last” and albums like “The Comfort Zone,” both of which were nominated for Grammy Awards. 

23 / 42

Cliff // Wikicommons

#20. Connie Smith

Nominations: 11

Most recent nomination: 2010

Country legend Connie Smith might not often get mentioned in the same breath as contemporaries like Lynn Anderson or Dolly Parton, but that’s not for lack of talent or success. Quite the opposite, in fact: Smith has enjoyed a long and rewarding career with plenty of awards and 11 Grammy nominations to show for it.

24 / 42


#19. R. Carlos Nakai

Nominations: 11

Most recent nomination: 2014

If you’re into yoga or meditation there’s a reasonable chance you’ve heard R. Carlos Nakai without even knowing it. The revered Native American flutist is a veritable institution in the genres of new age and instrumental. In 1989 he released the Canyon Trilogy, a trio of works that became the only Native American albums to achieve platinum certification by the RIAA.

25 / 42

Jamie Lamor Thompson /

#18. Jazmine Sullivan

Nominations: 11

Most recent nomination: 2015

You can hear traces of various influences in the work of Jazmine Sullivan, including genres like jazz and reggae. The young singer-songwriter broke through in 2008 with the Missy Elliot-produced single “Need U Bad,” which rapidly soared to number one on the billboard charts. Jazmine’s last string of Grammy nominations came in 2015, and odds are she’ll be back for more soon.

26 / 42

Stefan Brending // Wikicommons

#17. Alan Parsons

Nominations: 12

Most recent nomination: 2006

While certainly a reputable musician and songwriter in his own right (especially as the founder of The Alan Parsons Project), Alan Parsons is also widely known as the sound engineer behind Pink Floyd’s masterpiece “The Dark Side of the Moon.” Suffice to say, the man is no slouch, hence the 2006 Grammy Award nomination for Best Surround Sound Album for “A Valid Path,” his fourth solo effort.

27 / 42


#16. Lenny Gomulka

Nominations: 12

Most recent nomination: 2006

Who’s in the mood for some killer polka music?! Anyone? Anyone? Well, for the few and proud out there looking to get down like they did in the good old days, look no further than Lenny Gomulka. Not only has the musician and bandleader racked up 12 Grammy Award nominations throughout his career, but he also penned “Say Hello to Someone in Massachusetts,” the official polka for that state.

28 / 42

Lipstar & Frederic Lippe (Fred Production) // Wikicommons

#15. Busta Rhymes

Nominations: 12

Most recent nomination: 2011

In the ‘90s rapper Busta Rhymes (real name: Trevor George Smith Jr.) made sure his music remained raw, but these days he’s not afraid to expand his horizons. When he’s not making the occasional guest appearance on shows like “Fresh Off the Boat” or “Master of None,” the once-angry rapper still collaborates, records, and has small islands named after him. His most recent Grammy nomination was for a guest appearance on the Chris Brown track “Look at Me Now.”

29 / 42

Joe Haupt // Flickr

#14. Diana Ross

Nominations: 12

Most recent nomination: 2012

As both a founding member of ‘60s vocal group The Supremes, and an indisputably successful solo artist, Diana Ross might seem like a shoe-in at any given Grammy Awards ceremony, but she’s a 12-time runner-up. To make up for such blatant oversight, the Recording Academy handed Ross a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.  

30 / 42

Thoughtmatters // Wikicommons

#13. Spyro Gyra

Nominations: 13

Most recent nomination: 2009

Jazz fusion outfit Spyro Gyra has millions of dollars and more than 30 albums to their name, but no Grammy wins to date. Even after 40 years the band still tours and occasionally records, meaning hope isn’t entirely lost. That said, their best days are definitely behind them.

31 / 42

kokuziu // Wikicommons

#12. Nas

Nominations: 13

Most recent nomination: 2012

Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones (aka Nas) took the rap world by storm with his 1994 debut, “Illmatic,” which to this day remains a benchmark in east coast hip-hop. Over the years that followed he engaged in rap feuds with artists like Jay-Z, married (and then divorced) singer-songwriter Kelis, and earned 12 Grammy Award nominations for tracks like “Daughters,” and albums such as “Life is Good.”

32 / 42


#11. Katy Perry

Nominations: 13

Most recent nomination: 2014

In 2008 Katy Perry sang that she “Kissed a Girl” and furthermore, that she liked it. Lots of fans apparently did too, and the hit single launched a meteoric pop career that’s still going strong. Assuming she keeps those hits coming, Perry’s 13 Grammy Award nominations will probably increase in the near future, along with her chances of winning.    

33 / 42


#10. Musiq Soulchild

Nominations: 13

Most recent nomination: 2017

With a career lasting nearly 20 years, Musiq Soulchild continues to seduce eardrums by blending elements of funk, blues, jazz, gospel, and hip-hop to sonic perfection. His most recent album, “Feel the Real,” is up for a 2018 Grammy Award in the Best R&B Album category. Fingers crossed!

34 / 42


#9. Peter Kater

Nominations: 13

Most recent nomination: 2017

In the early 1980s new age legend Peter Kater started his own label and built his own studio before even releasing his first album. That launched an extraordinary career and earned him a very loyal following among new age and classical enthusiasts. In spite of his early success, however, it wasn’t until 2003 that Kater received his first Grammy Award nomination for Best New Age Album. Many more nominations would soon follow, but no wins as of yet.

35 / 42

#8. Toshiko Akiyoshi

Nominations: 14

Most recent nomination: 1994

Japanese jazz pianist and bandleader Toshiko Akiyoshi first appeared on vinyl in 1954, and released about an album per year in the decades that followed. Along the way she racked up plenty of acclaim and 14 Grammy Award nominations. Now 88, her love of music has assuredly outlasted and overshadowed any awards season slights.

36 / 42

Disney | ABC Television Group // Flickr

#7. Martina McBride

Nominations: 14

Most recent nomination: 2011

Martina McBride developed her passion for country music by singing in her father’s band as a young child. That was merely the beginning of a long and fruitful career, which saw McBride tackle a range of themes and styles with consistent success. Through both her music and her charitable endeavors McBride is also a tireless and pivotal figure in the fight against domestic violence.

37 / 42

Santiago Felipe // Wikicommons

#6. Björk

Nominations: 14

Most recent nomination: 2015

While Icelandic singer Björk has always been synonymous with eccentricity and experimentation, she’s delivered a surprising amount of accessible work over the years. Early albums like “Homogenic” were rife with catchy hooks and electronic textures. With 14 nominations to her name, Björk seems overdue for a Grammy Award. Of course, that’s assuming her endless visual and technological fixations continue to find a proper musical outlet.

38 / 42

Adrian Buss // Wikicommons

#5. Dierks Bentley

Nominations: 14

Most recent nomination: 2016

Dierks Bentley’s first Grammy Award nominations came in 2006, for his top-selling track “Every Mile a Memory.” The popular country singer has garnered 12 more nominations since, the most recent of which came in 2016. With a new album on the horizon, maybe 2019 will finally be Bentley’s year to take home the gold.  

39 / 42

Vtpeters // Wikicommons

#4. Joe Satriani

Nominations: 15

Most recent nomination: 2007

If rock fans aren’t readily familiar with guitar legend Joe Satriani, it’s because he doesn’t write hit singles. Regardless, the man can truly play his instrument like no other. Accordingly, most of Satriani’s 15 Grammy Award nominations are in the category of Best Rock Instrumental Performance. And while the man does indeed shred his guitar with gusto, he’s also no stranger to catchy melodies — just ask Coldplay.  

40 / 42

Gage Skidmore // Wikicommons

#3. Bryan McKnight

Nominations: 17

Most recent nomination: 2004

Known primarily as a distinguished R&B crooner, Brian McKnight is also a multi-instrumentalist, writer, and producer. Raised a Seventh Day Adventist, McKnight frequently infuses religious themes into his work, and as of late, those themes have come to dominate. His last Grammy Award nomination, meanwhile, came in 2004 for the song “What We Do Here.”

41 / 42

TechCrunch // Wikicommons

#2. Snoop Dogg

Nominations: 17

Most recent nomination: 2015

In spite of his supremely relaxed vibe, Snoop Dogg might very well be one of the hardest working men in show business. As a result, he’s remained a pop culture icon for more than two decades. These days you’re just as likely to find the rapper hosting game shows or throwing dinner parties with Martha Stewart as you are to see him performing hit music. It’s a doggy dogg world, indeed.

42 / 42

Maltesen from Denmark // Wikicommons

#1. Morten Lindberg

Nominations: 24

Most recent nomination: 2017

With a whopping 24 nominations and zero wins to his name, Morten Lindberg tops the list of artists most frequently disappointed at the Grammy Awards. To which you might say, “who’s Morten Lindberg?” He’s the revered Norwegian producer and sound engineer, and founder of record label 2L, which specializes in high fidelity classical recordings. Up for no less than four awards at the upcoming ceremony, this may be the year Lindberg finally breaks his unlucky streak!


Social media scholar. Troublemaker. Twitter specialist. Unapologetic web evangelist. Explorer. Writer. Organizer.

Leave a Reply

Back to top button