The list of artists that have never won Grammys includes most everyone who has ever recorded music. And many never will. Unless we get some unearthed recordings from Tupac or Bob Marley or Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin, they will only hold a lifetime achievement Grammy at best. That’s exactly what happened to Led Zeppelin, which scored their first ever competitive Grammy in 2014, decades after the group called it quits. The list gets even more frustrating when you consider who has won Grammys. Macklemore has some. So does DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Creed has won a Grammy, as has Train. Hell, even Barack Obama, Magic Johnson, and Martin Luther King Jr. have Grammy awards. The world is a strange place.
As the Grammys approach this weekend, quite a few artists will have a chance to remove themselves from the massive list of never having won and onto the much more selective list of winners. A few of the following artists are included in that company — here’s looking at you Blink-182, Megadeth, and PJ Harvey — while the majority will need to wait until future years to have a chance. Ahead, we’ve only included artists that are still actively making music and/or touring, and are not counting Hall of Fame or Lifetime Achievement Awards. All are deserving either because of their career output or career highlights — and they are all definitely better than Grammy winner Baha Men.
Times Nominated: 0
What Went Wrong: Uh, it’s easy to understand why Nick Cave‘s music isn’t the kind of fare that would attract the more pop-oriented Grammys, but the guy was even nominated for a VMA. In some world, Cave makes more sense for MTV to nominate than for the highest musical award committee. Go figure.
Prognosis: If Nick Cave couldn’t nab a nomination for one of his best career albums that was born out of personal tragedy, than it’s hard to see something else getting him a win. –Philip Cosores
Times Nominated: 0
What Went Wrong: The Grammys are surprisingly silent on the topic of Pixies, whose reputation as ‘90s alt-rock icons hasn’t translated into any direct nominations. Their last tangential honor belongs to artist Vaughan Oliver, who got the nod for his Indie Cindy recording package (Oliver was also nominated in 2011 for Pixies’ Minotaur box set).
Prognosis: Not good, considering the general mediocrity of 2016’s Head Carrier and the continued absence of bassist Kim Deal. –Collin Brennan
Times Nominated: 0
What Went Wrong: The Bristol trip-hop pioneers have been around for more than two decades, but in all that time they’ve only produced three albums. That hasn’t left Grammy voters with many opportunities to correct their oversights.
Prognosis: Portishead don’t seem particularly compatible with the atmosphere of an American awards show, and they also don’t seem to be in a hurry to put out new music. We aren’t holding our breath for this one. –Collin Brennan
Times Nominated: 0
What Went Wrong: If The Strokes were ever going to be nominated, it should have happened with their legendary debut record, which was likely just a little too cool for Grammy voters at the time. Their work since has consistently reached a smaller audience and dipped in quality, keeping them on the outside looking in.
Prognosis: Pretty iffy, considering that the band is pursuing solo endeavors more often than Strokes efforts. Still, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that they get a Grammy award at some point as a nod for their longevity, if they indeed make it to longevity. –Philip Cosores
Times Nominated: 1 (2017)
What Went Wrong: Maybe The Recording Academy doesn’t appreciate a good dick joke? In all seriousness, Blink-182 were never a band to take seriously before they toned down their original formula for the surprisingly grown-up (but still pretty juvenile) California.
Prognosis: The California boys might actually snag this year’s Best Rock Album award, though they face stiff competition from … Panic! At the Disco and Weezer?! That’s what I love about these Grammy voters, man. I get older, they stay the same age. –Collin Brennan
Times Nominated: 1 (1993)
What Went Wrong: If you add in The Smiths output, you’d still get just a single career Grammy nomination for Moz. Kinda shocking when you consider the cultural impact he’s made, but Morrissey is an example of his early (and best) music being too hip for Grammy voters at the time and his later material failing to make the commercial or critical impact to entice voters.
Prognosis: If Morrissey hasn’t logged a single nomination since his 1993 Best Alternative Music Album nom for Your Arsenal, it’s not looking too great for our favorite vegan. Still, his status is iconic that it’s possible they throw him a late career bone. –Philip Cosores
Times Nominated: 1 (2006)
What Went Wrong: That’s not a typo. One of England’s longest-lasting and most influential rock bands had to wait until 2006 to snag one measly nomination, a Best Dance Performance nod for “Guilt Is a Useless Emotion”. Seems like Grammys voters have their own history of Power, Corruption & Lies.
Prognosis: The band’s last album (and first without Peter Hook) was 2015’s Music Complete, which certainly seems worthy of a nomination in hindsight. The point is, New Order have still got the goods if voters are paying attention. –Collin Brennan
Times Nominated: 1 (2004)
What Went Wrong: The Icelandic group’s breakthrough third studio album, ( ), had the unique misfortune of going up against a trio of soon-to-be rock classics in the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Fever to Tell, Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief, and The White Stripes’ Elephant, the latter of which took home the prize for Best Alternative Music Album.
Prognosis: It’s possible that the Grammys have finally caught up to Sigur Rós’ innovative brand of post-rock and will soon reward them accordingly. It’s also possible, given Björk’s similar run of bad luck, that Grammy voters just hate Iceland. –Collin Brennan
Times Nominated: 2 (1993, 2001)
What Went Wrong: One of the strongest and most dynamic bands of the ’80s, The Cure failed to get a nomination for any of its strongest material, instead competing with later albums Wish and Bloodflowers in the Best Alternative Music Album category. They predictably lost, having never gotten a chance to compete with classics like Disintegration or Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.
Prognosis: The Cure can still sell out massive concerts, but their days as potential Grammy forces are behind them. As if Robert Smith needed another reason to be mopey. –Philip Cosores
Times Nominated: 2 (2009, 2013)
What Went Wrong: The Grammys tend to steer clear of controversy, and M.I.A.’s brand of politically charged pop has “controversy” written all over it. That’s a shame, because “Paper Planes” isn’t just the 2009 Record of the Year — it’s the Record of the Century so far.
Prognosis: M.I.A. may have just released her last album in AIM, so we don’t see her snagging a Grammy any time soon. –Collin Brennan