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To Those That Grammy Forgot…
It doesn’t matter how many albums you sell. It doesn’t matter if you are a critical darling. It doesn’t matter if you’ve inspired bands for decades. When it comes to winning a Grammy, it’s truly a crapshoot. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) have snubbed many musical icons over the years. It’s just what they do. Nothing personal. In fact, it’s part of what makes the Grammys the baffling, odd, head-scratching event that we know and love. Plus, when you look at the names on this list of folks that never have won a Grammy, you realize the company is pretty terrific.
The Kinks were one of the driving forces of the Sixties British Invasion (Their single “You’ve Really Got Me” is as iconic as the Stones’ “Satisfaction”). They had five Top Ten singles, and nine albums chart in the Top 40. Out of nowhere, they then reinvented themselves in the early ‘80s (remember “Come Dancing”? Sorry, it’s now stuck in your head the rest of the day)
They’ve influenced every type of music from alternative to alt-country. Critics hail leader Ray Davies as a lyrical genius. And yet for the Grammys, the Kinks simply don’t exist. Not only do the British rockers not own a Grammy, they’ve never been nominated. Very troubling.
It’s highly doubtful this proudly idiosyncratic artist is losing sleep over not owning a Grammy. After all, she has plenty of other awards to pack a room. Still, thirteen times Björk has received Grammy nominations, and thirteen times she heard someone else’s name called. That makes her the fifth most nominated artist to never win a Grammy. But, hey, rest well, our Icelandic friend: It took Bob Dylan 17 years to win his first Grammy.
If you think Björk has reason to complain, may we present Snoop. The D O double G is currently tied with Brian McKnight for most nominations with out a win: Sixteen. Our advice? Wear it like a badge of honor, Snoop. Woof!
Guns N’ Roses
The hard rockin’, hard livin’ L.A. band was ignored completely by the NARAS for their iconic debut “Appetite for Destruction.” It’s the highest selling debut album in U.S. history and you couldn’t go anywhere in 1987-88 without hearing Axl Rose whine about his sweet child or scream that you were in the jungle, baby, and yeah, you’re gonna die! Grammys didn’t get the memo. Once Axl and the boys got a bit more grandiose (white grand pianos!), Grammys took notice and they nabbed three noms but never won. We think it’s safe to say that if GnR hasn’t won a Grammy by now, it’s likely never going to happen. The chances of the original members civilly sitting in the same room, let alone recording a new album, are slim.
We're giving NARAS a slight pass on snubbing Public Enemy. Rap didn't become an official category until 1996, well after PE’s prime (Nas and Run-D.M.C. are also Grammy-less thanks to the category’s late addition). Of course, you can make valid arguments that It Takes a Nations of Millions to Hold Us Back or Fear of the Black Planet should have contended for Album of the Year in 1988 and 1990, respectively, but this is the Grammys, not Fantasy Island.
If you want to make valid arguments about how out of touch the Grammys still are, look no further than critical darling Polly Jean Harvey. Considered one of the top singer-songwriters (and overall badasses) since she exploded on the scene with her 1992 debut, Dry, the Brit continues to crank out great works. Grammys have taken notice six times (mostly in the Alternative categories), but Harvey has yet to nab a statue.
Patti Smith’s historic debut Horses wasn’t nominated for a Grammy. Let that sink in.
Ok, we’re back!
Yes, Smith embodies the term “acquired taste”; the punk poet never has and never will find a wide general audience. But the fact that she doesn’t own music industry’s highest accolade is, well, a bummer. She was nominated twice, in 1998 (lost to Fiona Apple) and 2001 (lost to Sheryl Crow). At the very least, line up a Lifetime Achievement for this legend.
Tupac recently got his own exhibit at the Grammy Museum. Consider it a consolation prize for the iconic hip hop figure that received 7 nominations (4 after his death in 1996) but never took home the gold. Where was the California Love, Grammys?
The Notorious B.I.G.
Biggie and Tupac will be forever linked, so it seems appropriate that Big Poppa too never broke through the Grammy wall. He was nominated 4 times (3 posthumously), but no wins. Most painful? A 1998 loss for Best Rap Solo Performance (his timeless “Hypnotize”) to Will Smith’s “Men in Black.” Ouch.
File under: Wishful Thinking. Probably more than anyone on this list, winning a Grammy probably never crossed Iggy Pop’s wonderfully warped mind. In fact, we’re kind of happy he’s never won. Seems right. He was nominated once, in 1989. He lost Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance to Jethro Tull; insert joke.
You wanted the best, you’ve got the best… just not a Best Grammy! One of the biggest selling acts in the world has never touched a Grammy. That said, if NARAS created a category for marketing and self-promotion, KISS would possibly break Grammy records.
Finally, we come to Katy Perry, fresh off her garish Super Bowl mind-bender. One of the big questions this year is: will Perry finally break through and take home her first Grammy. She has lost 11 times in 6 consecutive years. She has two more chances this year: For Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Bigger question? If she wins, will those dancing sharks join her onstage?