Receiving a Grammy is a sought-after and respected honor within the music industry. The Grammy Awards Ceremony has taken place since 1959 giving over 5,000 awards over the last 64 years. With the 65th annual Grammys coming up, I started looking into the past awards and came to a realization that there were some iconic artists missing from the winner lists. Some had received nominations but never won. And some of those “nominated but never won” artists absolutely deserve the honor. So, I’ve put together a list of artists who don’t have a Grammy but deserve one. A few of the artists on this list may surprise you.
I know that Grammys, much like many awards, don’t mean much these days, especially with people feeling like artists aren’t getting the recognition they deserve. While it’s an arbitrary award, I still thought it’d be fun to make a case for artists who deserve more recognition than they get in this particular awards circuit.
Katy Perry – 13 Nominations
Say what you want about Katy Perry, but you can’t deny that she was the moment from 2008-2013. Her 2010 album Teenage Dream has not just one but six songs that have over 300 million streams on Spotify with the highest reaching almost 950 million streams with her hit “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F).” This stream count is especially impressive considering Spotify didn’t even have a million users until 2011 according to Wikipedia. That goes to show how her songs continue to be played and resonate with people. That’s all great, but the reason I think Perry deserves a Grammy is because of her musical impact when she was huge, especially during the Teenage Dream era. Unfortunately, her star power just didn’t compare to other stars she got put up against for the 13 times she was nominated. Some of those stars included Lady Gaga and Adele. Or maybe the voters just don’t like her. But the bottom line is with 9 number-one songs with 3 of them diamond-certified, she is deserving of the Grammy honor.
Blink 182 – 1 Nomination
Blink 182 is one of those pop-punk bands that almost everyone knows. The fact that a band with immensely popular hits such as “What’s My Age Again?” and “All the Small Things” has never been recognized and only on the recording academy’s radar one time is quite surprising. Every member of Blink 182 has their own star power and talents, but as a group, they’ve only received one nomination. What’s even more surprising is that the album that was Grammy nominated was their 2016 album, California, and during the release of their popular albums, they weren’t acknowledged by the Recording Academy at all. Perhaps they found California more mature, but amongst fans, it isn’t their strongest album. Given their impact and legacy, I think the pop-punk icons deserve the recognition of a Grammy.
Death Cab for Cutie – 7 Nominations
Death Cab for Cutie is one of the best alternative bands of the last 20 years (in my opinion, but it’s honestly a fact 😉), and it’s insane to me that they haven’t received a single Grammy. Seven nominations is a solid number of times to be recognized, especially since the academy tends to lay less emphasis on anything but pop and hip-hop. Still, despite being nominated seven times, Death Cab for Cutie has never walked away with the award.
Looking at who they were up against for a few nominations, one can understand why they didn’t win a few times. For one, their song “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” was nominated in the Best Pop Performance by a Group category at the 2005 Grammys against songs like, “My Humps” by The Black Eyed Peas (the winner) and “Stickwitu” by the Pussycat Dolls, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Artists like these are also put in the same category as The Fray and Keane. I don’t consider Death Cab for Cutie “pop” and given the star power of The Black Eyed Peas at the time, it makes sense why they didn’t get the award that year. But it is a travesty that they didn’t win in 2016 for their album Kintsugi. It’s even more shocking to me that one of their best albums, Transatlanticism, was never even nominated. Death Cab for Cutie has had an impact on not only fans but many music artists over the years, so it’s surprising to me that they’ve never clinched a win.
Diana Ross – 13 Nominations
Iconic singer Diana Ross started out in The Supremes before setting out on her own as a soloist at the end of the '60s. She received massive mainstream success and has received 13 Grammy nominations over the years, but she has never won. Her first solo nomination was for "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" at the 13th Grammy Awards in 1971, but the honor ended up going to Dionne Warwick. Ross was nominated 9 more times as a soloist, even as recently as 2023 for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for her album Thank You. While she never received the honor as she was releasing some of her big hits of the 70s, Ross did receive a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 and once more in 2023 as a member of The Supremes.
Queen – 4 Nominations
Yes, despite Queen being one of the most popular and iconic rock bands to ever exist, they were never awarded a Grammy while they were together. They were nominated in two categories in 1977 and two categories in 1981 but didn’t go home with any wins, getting beat out for the Best Pop Vocal Performance and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group by Chicago and Bob Seger respectively. When you look at the history, you can understand why the group was underappreciated by the academy given that there wasn’t even a rock award category at The Grammys until 1980.
Luckily, like many artists who never properly awarded in their lifetime, Queen received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Grammys in 2018. Still, given the impact the group had back then and still today, Queen absolutely should have a Grammy beyond the lifetime achievement under their belt.
Sammy Davis Jr. - 3 Nominations
While Sammy Davis Jr. was at least nominated for a Grammy 3 times in his lifetime, he never won. His song “The Candy Man” was a #1 hit in 1971, which is what got him the nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, but that year, the winner was Harry Nilsson for “Without You.” Davis Jr. was also nominated for Best Solo Vocal Performance and Record of the Year in 1963 but did not take home the awards then either. Getting his start in Vaudeville, Sammy Davis Jr. was a great talent that at the very least should have won for “The Candy Man.” Luckily, he was given some recognition in 2001 for his accomplishments and contributions to music with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Still, it would have been nice to have had him win for his vocal performances.
Jimi Hendrix - Lifetime Achievement, No Nominations
It may seem unbelievable but Jimi Hendrix, despite being known as one of the greatest guitarists to ever live, has never won a Grammy. He hasn’t even ever been nominated. This is absolutely the case of a legend not being recognized in his time. So, to properly celebrate his legacy, Hendrix was given a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992. Unfortunately, this was 22 years after his death, so he wasn’t alive to receive the honor. Hendrix is an absolute legend that should have received a Grammy while alive, but at least he was retroactively honored.
Fall Out Boy – 2 Nominations
Much like Blink 182, Fall Out Boy is an important part of the pop-punk/rock scene that helped inspire so many modern artists. The fact that they’ve not only never won a Grammy but have also only been nominated twice is astounding to me. They were nominated for Best New Artist in 2006, but they lost the award to John Legend. Others up for nomination in the category were Ciara, Keane, and Sugarland. I can’t deny that John Legend is great, but in 2006 when Fall Out Boy had this nomination, they were blowing up with their album From Under the Cork Tree. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing “Dance Dance” in 2006. Then, the band didn’t get another nomination until their 2018 album MANIA. Between 2006 and 2018, the band had a lot of fantastic albums worthy of recognition that were overlooked. While MANIA isn’t a personal favorite for me, I can acknowledge that it had its flashes of genius, such as “Heaven’s Gate.” Still, I can see why it wouldn’t win for Best Rock Album. However, I still think it’s a travesty that they didn’t receive any recognition for anything regarding Infinity on High or Save Rock and Roll.
Foster the People – 3 Nominations
Not a lot of people know much about Foster the People outside their radio hit “Pumped Up Kicks” but if you take the time to listen to the album it comes from, Torches, it’s a very impressive body of work. Their subsequent albums, Supermodel and Sacred Hearts Club, are also brilliant. I love that they’ve had three nominations under their belt, but I think they definitely deserved to win at least one of the awards. Foster the People was nominated for Best Alternative Album in 2012, and up against them that year was another artist on this list, Death Cab for Cutie. Sadly, both lost to Bon Iver. Even outside the nominations, I think Foster the People should still be on the minds of the Academy because they are one of the most innovative and interesting alternative bands out there (in my opinion).
Every artist on this list deserves the honor of a Grammy, but for those who are still living and making music, there’s still hope. Perhaps a few will get nominated and win again in the next couple of years. Hopefully, a few aren’t recognized past their prime, because while it’s a nice honor, it’s also great to see artists honored in their lifetime. What artist do you feel deserves a Grammy that has been snubbed in the past? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading.
Written by Kristen Petronio