Some superstar acts, even with record sales in the millions and multiple nominations, have never gotten a chance to make an acceptance speech at the Grammy Awards … not even on the little-watched pre-telecast portion.
The list of Grammy losers is a pretty surprising one: Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, the Jonas Brothers, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj are among the biggies who remain Grammy-less. Fortunately for them all, they have a shot at ending their losing streaks on Jan. 26, as each released music during the eligibility period, which stretched from October 2018 to August 2019.
Strikeout country king Shelton might be the perennial Grammy loser with the best shot at an overdue win. Eighteen years into his recording career, he’s been nominated again and again but came into the latest Grammy season batting 0 for 7. This year, his No. 1 single “God’s Country” was one of the biggest country hits of 2019, having gone platinum while crossing over into the pop Top 20. The meat-and-potatoes, up-with-God-and-country anthem is a pretty strong contender for best country song. That award wouldn’t go to Shelton as he didn’t have a hand in writing it, but a win for best country solo performance would finally give Shelton a Grammy to put on the shelf next to his partner Gwen Stefani’s three.
The Jonas Brothers could be next in line after Shelton to finally enjoy a Grammy triumph. The trio, who have been nominated just once — for best new artist in 2009 — made a successful comeback in 2019, and it could at last get them some Grammy love. Their chart-topping “Happiness Begins” collection could net them their first album of the year nomination, but their chances are probably better with the single “Sucker,” which has record of the year potential. A win in either category, though, would be a longshot, with more acclaimed and groundbreaking releases by Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish and Lizzo possibly in the running. As much as “Sucker” is being touted as a shoo-in to at least get nominated for the top prize, when it comes to finally scoring a win, the Jonases have a better chance at best pop vocal album and best group performance.
The question may be whether Recording Academy members have truly gotten over thinking of the Jonases at this late date as a boy band — or whether they even think of them in terms of being a male vocal group, since the Grammys haven’t been particularly kind to those, either, at least if their names aren’t Boyz II Men or the Temptations. Backstreet Boys and NSYNC were nominated nine and eight times, respectively, with no wins. New Kids on the Block, New Edition and the Jackson 5 all got just one nomination (and one loss), while One Direction and Jodeci were never even been nominated.
Katy Perry, however, has been nominated … 13 times! “Teenage Dream” competed for album of the year in 2011, and her 12 other nominations include record of the year for her 2010 single “Firework” and song of the year for her 2013 hit “Roar.” Will this be her year? She released four singles in 2019 — “365” with Zedd, “Con Calma (Remix)” with Daddy Yankee and Snow, “Never Really Over” and “Small Talk” — but none of them scream Grammy-worthy. The Zedd collaboration and “Never Really Over” could be contenders in best dance recording, though (the category where 10-time nominee Justin Bieber scored his sole Grammy triumph in 2016, for “Where Are Ü Now”).
Perry’s fellow pop queen Miley Cyrus has been nominated just once (for best pop vocal album for “Bangerz” in 2015). She released three songs during an eligibility period that had her grabbing plenty of headlines. But if any Cyrus is walking away with a Grammy this year, it probably will be Miley’s dad Billy Ray Cyrus, a four-time nominee (and loser) whose “Old Town Road” collaboration with Lil Nas X was the year’s biggest hit, eclipsing his own 1992 breakthrough, “Achy Breaky Heart.”
Country hitmakers Florida Georgia Line have not been big favorites with voters so far. The duo only received their first nomination at the 2019 Grammys, for best country duo/group performance for “Meant to Be,” a collaboration with best new artist nominee Bebe Rexha. The bro-country mainstays released two singles during this year’s eligibility period, but it’s hard to imagine “Talk You Out of It” and “Blessings” going where the massive hits “Cruise” and “Meant to Be” couldn’t.
Rapper Nicki Minaj is probably just as unlikely to get a Grammy to call her own in January. She’s been a bridesmaid 10 times, and she had to watch her rival Cardi B score best rap album this year. Even before Cardi’s historic win as the first solo female to rule the category, fans were calling out the Academy’s Minaj snubs. In February, one tweeted: “Nicki Minaj has been at the top of her game for way too long to not have had a Grammy. I don’t know what white man from the boards she pissed off.” Minaj fired back with an answer: “I pissed off the same man Ariana just called out of lying, Grammy producer KEN,” she wrote, referring to Ken Ehrlich, although the telecast’s longtime executive producer has little to no sway over Recording Academy voting blocs.
Even without her Grammy beef, none of the songs Minaj released during the last cycle would be likely to reverse her fortune, but she shouldn’t feel too singled out. Rap legends the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur never won a competitive Grammy. Neither have Snoop Dogg, Nas, Run-D.M.C. and Public Enemy. So, if nothing else, at least Minaj is in pretty iconic company.
And at least all the aforementioned artists can at least claim a nomination (or 13). Even if they don’t score in 2020, they’re still ahead of artists like the Kinks, Talking Heads and Jodeci, none of whom got to say even once: “It’s an honor just to be nominated.”