Music

And the Grammy doesn't go to ... these artists, who just can't win

Jan. 24, 2014 at 12:01 PM ET

On Jan. 26th, Katy Perry, Queens of the Stone Age and Snoop Dogg will all be making return trips Grammy Awards — and all three superstars will be vying to take home their first trophy. 

Throughout the course of their respective careers, those artists have been nominated for a cumulative 23 awards — and 23 times they've gone home from Grammy night empty-handed. They aren't the only otherwise decorated artists to have never gotten any Grammy love. Here now, a rundown of the pop stars, punk icons and rock geniuses who have never won a competitive Grammy. 

Brian McKnight
Times nominated: 16
Sort of the Susan Lucci of R&B, Brian McKnight co-holds the ignominious honor of being the artist who has the most Grammy nominations without a win. Surely you would think that somewhere in his deep and velvety catalog, brimming with favorites like "Anytime" (lost best pop vocal performance to Stevie Wonder's "St. Louis Blues" in 1999) and "Back at One" (lost best R&B album to TLC's "FanMail" in 2000), there is an album or song or video or duet worthy of a statue. But maybe his pristine adult contemporary R&B — though apparently highly nominate-able — is somehow too safe, too staid for even the Grammy records? Actually, scratch that: McKnight's 0-fer is probably just bad luck.

More from Rolling Stone: 20 strangest best new artist Grammy wins

Snoop Dogg
Times nominated: 16
With his nomination this year for best reggae album (for "Reincarnated"), Snoop matched Brian McKnight for the dubious distinction of most nominations without a win. In the past, the man now called Snoop Lion (or is it Snoopzilla?) earned nominations for classics "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang," "Gin and Juice" and "Drop It Like It's Hot," among others. He can probably find some consolation in knowing he's been beaten out by the eminently worthy likes of Kanye West, Beyoncé (twice) and Dr. Dre. This year, his competition includes Ziggy Marley and Beres Hammond.

Martina McBride
Times nominated: 14
Martina McBride has sold more than 14 million albums and won the country music association's female vocalist of the year award four times, but she has yet to catch a break at the Grammys. The closest she ever came was in 1996, when an album on which she was featured, "Amazing Grace — A Salute to Gospel," won for best Southern, country or bluegrass gospel album. But it was the compilation's producer, Bill Hearn, who got the award.

Bjork
Times nominated: 13
Although it would seem that Björk's art-rock is a tad too far out for even the Grammys' Alternative categories, the Icelandic icon's eccentricity isn't much of an issue for other organizations doling out music awards. Björk has won BRIT Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, 21 Icelandic Music awards, an award from the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, two Webby Awards and the award for best actress at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. So her trophy room is fully stocked.

Nas
Times nominated: 13
Nas' failure to win even one Grammy can perhaps be chalked up to an unfortunate generational loophole: 1994's "Illmatic" — which is largely considered to be not only his masterwork, but a seminal album in hip-hop history — was released before the best rap album category was even introduced in 1996. His gritty gamechanger didn't even garner an album of the year nomination — surely "Illmatic" was better than the eventual winner from its year, Tony Bennett's "MTV Unplugged."

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Busta Rhymes
Times nominated: 11
In late '90s, the New York City motormouth lost best rap solo performance two years in a row to Will Smith: in 1997 "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See" fell to "Men in Black" and "Dangerous" was beat by "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It." But Busta has kept on plugging, earning a nomination as recently as 2012, when "Look at Me Now" was cited for best rap performance and best rap song. 

Katy Perry
Times nominated: 9
It's hard to imagine a world in which a megastar like Katy Perry, whose "Teenage Dream" produced a record breaking five No. 1 hits, cannot count a single golden gramophone amongst her many decorations and novelty bras — but here we are. To be fair, the competition has been stiff. Perry has lost to Adele (a nine-time winner) on three occasions: in 2009, 2012 and 2013, and a different category each time. But she's up for two awards this year ("Roar" is up for song of the year and best solo pop performance), and Adele isn't around, so maybe this is Perry's best chance.

Tupac Shakur
Times nominated: 7
Appearing onstage to introduce Kiss at the 1996 Grammy Awards telecast, Tupac served the ceremony with an indictment: "You know how the Grammys used to be: all straight-looking folks with suits," he said. "Everybody looking tired. No surprises. We tired of that. We need something different." Pac was up for two awards that night — "Dear Mama" for Best Rap Solo Performance and Me Against the World for Best Rap Album — hoping to be a part of that something different, but instead he went home Grammy-less. 

More from Rolling Stone: Grammy showdown 2014: Who'll win the big categories?

Public Enemy
Times nominated: 6
The Grammys didn't give out an award for best rap album until 1996, but there is no doubt that Public Enemy's pivotal 1988 effort "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" should have held its own in the best album race, which wound up being won by George Michael's "Faith." And no disrespect to Young MC who won best rap performance by a duo or group award for his 1989 track "Bust a Move," but "Fight the Power" came out that same year. Come on! 

Depeche Mode
Times nominated: 5
As far as '80s rock bands go, Depeche Mode are just one small rung of success below the U2s and Bon Jovis of the world. Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Co. have sold huge amounts of albums, consistently play arenas and, in Gahan's case, come back from the dead. But they've never won a Grammy. Perhaps just as weirdly, four of the band's five nominations have come since 2001. 

See 15 other artists who've been snubbed on RollingStone.com.

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