51 of the most-nominated artists who have never won a Grammy

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January 15, 2019
JStone // Shutterstock

51 of the most-nominated artists who have never won a Grammy

The old chestnut “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” lends itself nicely to those musical artists who have garnered numerous Grammy nominations, but never managed to bag the big prize.

Using data taken from the official Grammy website, Stacker compiled a list of the 51 most nominated acts that have failed to walk away with a win. Musicians were ranked according to the number of nominations they received during the course of their careers, up to and including 2018, and must not have had a single win by January 2019with the exception of Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement awards. 

Winning is nice, but it isn't everything, and the majority of losers on the list can console themselves with fat bank balances. Some are industry veterans, others are newcomers who have taken the music industry by storm. A select few are current nominees. Will their luck finally change? Tune into the 61st Grammy Awards Sunday, Feb. 10, to find out.

In the meantime, read through the list to see which industry titans and more obscure acts are still chasing the golden gramophone.

RELATED: Highest-paid musicians in 2018

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Raph_PH // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Arctic Monkeys (tie)

Nominations: 5
Most recent nomination: 2018

The Arctic Monkeys have been nominated for a total of five Grammy awards since they burst onto the alternative rock scene in 2002. This year, they're up for Best Rock Performance and Best Alternative Music Album for their most recent release, “Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino.” While fans have been polarized by their fusion of complicated lyrics and moody, piano-inspired melodies, the new cosmic sound just may deliver the band's first Grammy win.

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Jamie Lamor Thompson // Shutterstock

#43. H.E.R. (tie)

Nominations: 5
Most recent nomination: 2018

Enigmatic R&B sensation H.E.R.—which stands for “Having Everything Revealed”—has received five Grammy nods this year, including Best New Artist and Album of the Year. The gifted singer-songwriter, born Gabriella Wilson, grew up in a musical household and performed on “The Today Show” when she was just 10 years old. With a little luck, H.E.R. could bring home a trove of trophies from the upcoming awards ceremony.

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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

#43. Teddy Pendergrass (tie)

Nominations: 5
Most recent nomination: 1993

Originally the lead singer for Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass ascended to even greater fame thanks to his successful solo career. A tragic car accident left him paralyzed from the chest down, but that didn't stop him from recording a number of hit songs, at least a few of which earned Grammy nominations for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. Sadly, he never won before his death in 2010.

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MikaV // Wikicommons

#43. Aaliyah (tie)

Nominations: 5
Most recent nomination: 2002

Hip-hop star Aaliyah was at the top of the world when she died tragically in a plane crash at 22 years old. She was an incredibly popular singer during her short career, as well as a talented actress, starring in movies like “Romeo Must Die” and “Queen of the Damned.” “Try Again” from the “Romeo Must Die” soundtrack remains her biggest hit, and the song garnered her a Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 2001.

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Thesupermat // Wikicommons

#43. James Blunt (tie)

Nominations: 5
Most recent nomination: 2006

Former British Army officer James Hillier Blount is better-known as singing superstar James Blunt. His biggest hit, “You're Beautiful,” racked up five Grammy nominations in a single year, but failed to win in any category. Blunt took his career in a different direction in 2018 with a role in director Michael Winterbottom's upcoming comedy, “Greed.”

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Nightshooter // Wikicommons

#43. Kid Rock (tie)

Nominations: 5
Most recent nomination: 2008

When not dating Playboy models or running for political office, Detroit's Kid Rock has enjoyed quite the illustrious career as a recording artist. Born Robert James Ritchie, Kid Rock was nominated for Best New Artist in 2000, in addition to other nods. Sure, he's never taken home the gold trophy—but he has all the money in the world to make up for it.

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Nir Nussbaum // Wikicommons

#43. Depeche Mode (tie)

Nominations: 5
Most recent nomination: 2009

For proof the Grammys rarely has its pulse on youth culture, consider that the U.K.'s Depeche Mode has never won the award. Their early efforts may have been spotty, but the band perfected its lush synth-pop sound in late ‘80s albums like “Music for the Masses” and “Violator.” It wasn't until the mid-‘90s that Depeche Mode scored its first Grammy nomination, and the band has still never won.

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Stuart Sevastos // Wikicommons

#43. Nickelback (tie)

Nominations: 5
Most recent nomination: 2009

Nickelback's lack of Grammy wins probably doesn't have anyone up in arms: The popular Canadian rock group is one of the most-hated bands in the world. Nevertheless, Nickelback has five nominations to its name, including Record of the Year for 2002's “How You Remind Me.”

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Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

#43. Khalid (tie)

Nominations: 5
Most recent nomination: 2017

Hit singer Khalid Robinson burst onto the R&B scene in 2017 with “Location,” a song he released while still a senior in high school. All five of Khalid's Grammy nods were for work released in 2017 in connection with his debut album “American Teen.” His follow-up album “Suncity” was well-received when it was released in 2018, but failed to pick up any nominations.

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JStone / Shutterstock

#39. Ariana Grande (tie)

Nominations: 6
Most recent nomination: 2018

Ariana Grande topped the charts with her debut album “Yours Truly” in 2013, and received her first Grammy nominations the following year. The quirky pop star hasn't won a Grammy yet, but that may be about to change: Grande has two chances to take home a trophy this year, for Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album. After an exceptionally difficult year marked by the death of her ex, rapper Mac Miller, and her doomed romance with “Saturday Night Live” actor Pete Davidson, Grande is overdue for some good fortune.

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livepict.com // Wikicommons

#39. Public Enemy (tie)

Nominations: 6
Most recent nomination: 1994

Comprised of social activist Chuck D and zany cohort Flavor Flav, Public Enemy busted through the industry doors in 1986 and instantly began changing the cultural landscape. With intelligent, political, and controversial lyrics, the famous duo put America's racial misdeeds front and center. To this day, Public Enemy's influence can be seen throughout the hip-hop sphere. That they never won a Grammy feels negligible next to their substantial contributions to music and culture.

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MTV networks

#39. Tupac Shakur (tie)

Nominations: 6
Most recent nomination: 1999

Rapper Tupac Shakur rose to fame tackling social injustice through music before succumbing to the dangers of street life. Shakur's legacy remains shrouded in mystery and contradiction. His last Grammy nomination came posthumously in 1999 for the song “Changes,” providing a fitting retread into his earlier days as a thoughtful provocateur.

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Dave Kotinsky // Getty Images for BET

#39. Tamia Hill (tie)

Nominations: 6
Most recent nomination: 2012

With a career spanning two decades, Canadian singer-songwriter Tamia Hill (better-known as Tamia) is no stranger to comebacks. Her 2012 song “Beautiful Surprise” was her first big hit in six years.

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Guy McCullough // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Brandi Carlile (tie)

Nominations: 7
Most recent nomination: 2018

Brandi Carlile—this year's most nominated female performer—is a veteran of the folk music scene, dropping her eponymous debut album back in 2005. The singer-songwriter didn't receive a Grammy nod, however, until her fourth album, “The Firewatcher's Daughter,” was released in 2015. This time around, Carlile is in the running for a staggering six Grammy awards, including Best Song for “The Joke,” off her album, “By The Way, I Forgive You,” which is also nominated for Album Of The Year.

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JStone / Shutterstock

#34. Cardi B (tie)

Nominations: 7
Most recent nomination: 2018

In 2017, exotic dancer-turned-Instagram-celebrity Cardi B released her single “Bodak Yellow,” which promptly shot to the top of the Billboard chart. The song earned the outrageous Bronx-born rapper—born Belcalis Almanzar—two Grammy nods, but she failed to take home the golden gramophone. This year, if Cardi wins in every category in which she's been nominated—Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Album, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Record Of The Year, and Album of the Year—she'll walk away with five awards.

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cbudd // Pixabay

#34. J. Cole (tie)

Nominations: 7
Most recent nomination: 2018

Before he was a best-selling rapper and sought-after producer, J. Cole worked at an ice skating rink, where he would occasionally don a kangaroo mascot costume. It all just goes to show that every dream has to start somewhere. Cole's 2018 album “KOD” went platinum in December, yet failed to receive any Grammy nods. Cole, however, isn't necessarily out of luck when it comes to this year's awards. Collaborative work has earned Cole two nominations: Best R&B Song for “Come Through and Chill” with Miguel, and “Best Rap/Sung Performance for “Pretty Little Fears” with 6lack.

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U.S Air Forces Central Command

#34. En Vogue (tie)

Nominations: 7
Most recent nomination: 1996

Hailed as one of the best female vocalist groups of all time, En Vogue debuted in 1990 and enjoyed a meteoric rise, peaking in 1996 with their third single, “Don't Let Go (Love).” In 1997, they released their third album, “EV3.” It sold well and earned a Grammy nomination, but also represented a drop in momentum from which the group never completely recovered.

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Sebi Ryffel // Wikicommons

#34. Queens of the Stone Age (tie)

Nominations: 7
Most recent nomination: 2017

Formed in the mid-‘90s, California outfit Queens of the Stone Age are known for heavy riffs and occasional collaborations with fellow rockers like Dave Grohl. “Villians,” the band's most recent release, was nominated for a 2017 Grammy Award, but the band went home empty-handed.

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Raph_PH // Flickr

#31. Janelle Monáe (tie)

Nominations: 8

Most recent nomination: 2018

Acclaimed actress and singer Janelle Monáe is no stranger to the Grammy Awards. In 2008, she received her first nomination, for Best R&B Performance, and together with Bruno Mars made her stage debut at the show in 2011. Her latest album “Dirty Computer” and music video “PYNK” are both up for honors; this could be the year the multi-talented performer adds a Grammy to the Screen Actors Guild Award she won in 2017 for her work in the 2017 film “Hidden Figures.”

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Anirudh Koul // Wikicommons

#31. Backstreet Boys (tie)

Nominations: 8
Most recent nomination: 2018

At the height of the boy band craze came the Backstreet Boys, a group of five singers and dancers who churned out hit after hit. In 1998, they received a key to the city of Orlando, Fla., where they were first discovered. They also have multiple Billboard Music Awards, American Music Awards, and MTV Video Awards. Despite all of these accolades, the band has yet to add a Grammy to their haul. All this may change in this upcoming award season as the band is nominated in the Best Pop Duo/Group category for “Don't Go Breaking My Heart.”

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Vitor Mazuco // Wikicommons

#31. Avril Lavigne (tie)

Nominations: 8
Most recent nomination: 2003

Canadian rocker Avril Lavigne was just 16 years old when she signed a two-album deal with Arista Records. What followed was a wildly successful string of hits, amounting to more than 40 million albums sold by 2013. Lavigne's infectious pop-punk sensibilities have earned her plenty of acclaim, as well as her fair share of awards, but no Grammy.

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Al Pavangkanan // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Alice in Chains (tie)

Nominations: 9
Most recent nomination: 2018

Seattle grunge rockers Alice in Chains have racked up nine Grammy nominations since Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney formed the band back in 1987. Shortlisted for Best Hard Rock Performance With Vocal for the single “Man In The Box” in 1992, the band left the awards ceremony empty-handed. With “Rainier Fog” up for Best Rock Album this year, Alice in Chain's 28-year losing streak may finally come to an end.

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Christopher Polk // Getty Images for NARAS

#28. SZA (tie)

Nominations: 9
Most recent nomination: 2018

Growing up in the ‘90s, R&B singer SZA had a fondness for Drew Barrymore films such as "Never Been Kissed" and "Poison Ivy." That might help explain the dual themes of whimsical nostalgia and aggressive sexuality that frequently permeate her songs. SZA raked in five nominations in 2017 but failed to clinch a single win. Nominated for four more awards this year in connection with her most recent release, “All The Stars,” SZA may triumph yet.

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Matteo Chinellato // Shutterstock

#28. Sia (tie)

Nominations: 9
Most recent nomination: 2017

In addition to recording her own popular music, Australian singer-songwriter Sia pens hit singles for fellow artists like Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Beyoncé. According to legend, it took Sia all of 14 minutes to write Rihanna's hit song “Diamonds." As if all that wasn't enough, Sia is also an acclaimed video director and performance artist.

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Bill Ebbesen // Wikicommons

#26. Wiz Khalifa (tie)

Nominations: 10
Most recent nomination: 2015

Cameron Jibril Thomaz, better known as Wiz Khalifa, once claimed to spend $10,000 a month on marijuana. That didn't stop his native city of Pittsburgh from declaring Dec. 12, 2012, “Wiz Khalifa Day,” however. Wiz Khalifa has recorded tons of hit songs, earning him 10 Grammy nominations.

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Eva Rinaldi // Flickr

#26. Nicki Minaj (tie)

Nominations: 10
Most recent nomination: 2015

Trinidadian rapper Nicki Minaj hit the Billboard #1 spot with her debut 2010 album “Pink Friday,” and has been a pop culture mainstay ever since. In addition to her slew of Grammy nominations, Minaj was the inspiration for a limited-edition Barbie Doll auctioned off for charity.

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Peterappelros // Wikicommons

#21. Elly Ameling (tie)

Nominations: 11
Most recent nomination: 1990

Most of those tuning in to watch the Grammys aren't watching for the classical categories. For that reason alone, Elly Ameling may not ring a bell. However, the Dutch soprano carved out a highly respectable career, recording more than 150 albums of classical works. Ameling was knighted in the Netherlands in 1971.

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Angela George // Wikicommons

#21. Vanessa Williams (tie)

Nominations: 11
Most recent nomination: 1997

These days, you may be more likely to find Vanessa Williams acting on television, writing memoirs, or designing popular fashion lines. In the 1990s, however, she was a musical force to be reckoned with. She recorded hit songs like “Save the Best for Last,” and albums like “The Comfort Zone,” both of which were nominated for Grammy Awards.

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Cliff // Wikicommons

#21. Connie Smith (tie)

Nominations: 11
Most recent nomination: 2010

Country legend Connie Smith may not rank alongside contemporaries like Lynn Anderson or Dolly Parton, but that's not for lack of talent or success—quite the opposite, in fact. Smith has enjoyed a long and rewarding career with plenty of awards and 11 Grammy nominations to show for it.

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bioneers // Flickr

#21. R. Carlos Nakai (tie)

Nominations: 11
Most recent nomination: 2014

If you're into yoga or meditation, there's a reasonable chance you've heard R. Carlos Nakai without even knowing it. The revered Native American flutist is a veritable institution in the genres of New Age and instrumental. In 1989, Nakai released “The Canyon Trilogy,” a trio of works that became the only Native American albums to achieve platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America.

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Jamie Lamor Thompson // Shutterstock

#21. Jazmine Sullivan (tie)

Nominations: 11
Most recent nomination: 2015

Jazmine Sullivan's music is heavily influenced by jazz and reggae. The young singer-songwriter broke through in 2008 with the Missy Elliot-produced single “Need U Bad,” which rapidly soared to #1 on the Billboard charts. Jazmine's last string of Grammy nominations came in 2015.

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Olivier Bruchez // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Keith Jarrett (tie)

Nominations: 12
Most recent nomination: 2010

A prodigy, jazz pianist Keith Jarrett started playing the piano before he was 3 years old. He received his first nomination in 1971 for Best Jazz Performance By A Group and his last in 2010 for Best Improvised Jazz Solo. Unfortunately, Jarrett was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome in 1996, forcing him to curtail his career.

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FatherNorb // YouTube

#16. Lenny Gomulka (tie)

Nominations: 12
Most recent nomination: 2006

Not only has polka artist Lenny Gomulka racked up 12 Grammy Award nominations throughout his career, but he also penned “Say Hello to Someone in Massachusetts,” the Bay State's official polka song.

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Jamie Lamor Thompson // Shutterstock

#16. Ledisi (tie)

Nominations: 12
Most recent nomination: 2017

Soulful songstress Ledisi Young received her first two Grammy nominations in 2007 for Best R&B Album and Best New Artist. She's scored additional nominations since then but has yet to walk away with an award. A prodigious talent with a loyal following, Ledisi turned her talents to the silver screen, playing Mahalia Jackson in the 2014 Oscar-winning film “Selma.”

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Lipstar & Frederic Lippe (Fred Production) // Wikicommons

#16. Busta Rhymes (tie)

Nominations: 12
Most recent nomination: 2011

Rapper Busta Rhymes, born Trevor George Smith Jr., made sure his music stayed raw in the ‘90s. These days, he's expanded his horizons with occasional guest appearances on shows like “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Master of None,” and serving as inspiration for a small island named after him. Busta Rhymes' most recent Grammy nomination was for a guest appearance in Chris Brown's song “Look at Me Now.”

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Joe Haupt // Flickr

#16. Diana Ross (tie)

Nominations: 12
Most recent nomination: 2012

As a founding member of The Supremes and an indisputably successful solo artist, Diana Ross may seem like a shoo-in at any given Grammy Awards ceremony. Nevertheless, she's a 12-time runner-up. To make up for such blatant oversight, Ross was honored with a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

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#11. Musiq Soulchild (tie)

Nominations: 13
Most recent nomination: 2017

With a career spanning 20 years, Musiq Soulchild continues to seduce audiences with elements of funk, blues, jazz, gospel, and hip-hop. The artist's 2017 release, “Feel the Real,” was nominated for Best R&B Album but failed to take the prize.

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Thoughtmatters // Wikicommons

#11. Spyro Gyra (tie)

Nominations: 13
Most recent nomination: 2009

Jazz fusion outfit Spyro Gyra has more than 30 albums to its name, but no Grammy wins to-date. The band still tours after 40 years and occasionally records—meaning hope isn't entirely lost.

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kokuziu // Wikicommons

#11. Nas (tie)

Nominations: 13
Most recent nomination: 2012

Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones won the rap world over with his 1994 debut, “Illmatic.” Over the years, Nas has engaged in feuds with artists like Jay-Z, married and divorced singer-songwriter Kelis, and earned 12 Grammy Award nominations.

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Stefan Brending // Wikicommons

#11. Alan Parsons (tie)

Nominations: 13
Most recent nomination: 2018

While a reputable musician and songwriter in his own right, Alan Parsons is also widely known as the sound engineer behind Pink Floyd's masterpiece “The Dark Side of the Moon.” Parsons received the 2006 Grammy Award nomination for Best Surround Sound Album for “A Valid Path,” his fourth solo effort. With a nomination for Best Immersive Audio Album for “Eye In The Sky – 35th Anniversary Edition,” this could be Parsons' year.

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#11. Katy Perry (tie)

Nominations: 13
Most recent nomination: 2014

Katy Perry's 2008 hit single “I Kissed A Girl” launched a meteoric pop career that's still going strong. Assuming she keeps those continual hits coming, Perry's 13 Grammy Award nominations could increase in the near future, along with her chances of winning.

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tvanhoosear// Flickr

#6. Fred Hersch (tie)

Nominations: 14
Most recent nomination: 2018

Jazz pianist and composer Fred Hersch's first Grammy nod was a nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, which came in 1993, and was followed by two more in 1995 and 2006. Hersch rebounded from health issues in 2008 with eight more Grammy nominations. Shortlisted this year for both Best Improvised Jazz Solo and Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Hersch may still walk away with a win.

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PASrapsheet // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Boi-1da (tie)

Nominations: 14
Most recent nomination: 2018

Canadian-born music producer, Matthew Jehu Samuels, who goes by Boi-1da, was a major force behind the success of fellow countryman Drake, received his first nomination in 2009 for his work on the rapper's hit song, “Best I Ever Had.” Much sought-after, Samuels continued to work with Drake, but proved he wasn't a one-trick pony, collaborating with other industry titans like Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and Eminem. Thirteen more nominations followed, including a jaw-dropping six nods for the upcoming ceremony, including Best Producer Of The Year.

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Adrian Buss // Wikicommons

#6. Dierks Bentley (tie)

Nominations: 14
Most recent nomination: 2016

Dierks Bentley's first Grammy Award nominations came in 2006 for his top-selling track “Every Mile A Memory.” The popular country singer has garnered 12 more nominations since, the most recent of which came in 2016.

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Disney | ABC Television Group // Flickr

#6. Martina McBride (tie)

Nominations: 14
Most recent nomination: 2011

Martina McBride developed her passion for country music singing in her father's band as a child, the beginning of a long and fruitful career that saw McBride tackle a range of themes and styles with consistent success. Through her music and her charitable endeavors, McBride has been a tireless and pivotal figure in the fight against domestic violence.

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#6. Toshiko Akiyoshi (tie)

Nominations: 14
Most recent nomination: 1994

Now 89 years old, Japanese jazz pianist and bandleader Toshiko Akiyoshi first appeared on vinyl in 1954 and released about one album per year in the decades that followed. Along the way, Akiyoshi racked up plenty of acclaim and 14 Grammy Award nominations.

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Vtpeters // Wikicommons

#4. Joe Satriani (tie)

Nominations: 15
Most recent nomination: 2007

If rock fans aren't readily familiar with guitar legend Joe Satriani, it's because he doesn't write hit singles. Accordingly, most of Satriani's 15 Grammy Award nominations fall in the category of Best Rock Instrumental Performance. And while he does indeed shred his guitar with gusto, he's also no stranger to catchy melodies: Just ask Coldplay.  

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Santiago Felipe // Wikicommons

#4. Björk (tie)

Nominations: 15
Most recent nomination: 2018

While Icelandic singer Björk has always been synonymous with eccentricity and experimentation, she's delivered a surprising amount of accessible work over the years. Early albums like “Homogenic” were rife with catchy hooks and electronic textures. Björk' is nominated for Best Alternative Music Album for “Utopia" this year.

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TechCrunch // Wikicommons

#3. Snoop Dogg

Nominations: 16
Most recent nomination: 2015

Snoop Dogg has remained a pop culture icon for more than two decades. These days you're just as likely to find the rapper hosting game shows or throwing dinner parties with Martha Stewart as you are to see him performing music.

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Gage Skidmore // Wikicommons

#2. Brian McKnight

Nominations: 17
Most recent nomination: 2004

Known primarily as an R&B crooner, Brian McKnight is also a multi-instrumentalist, writer, and producer. Raised a Seventh-day Adventist, McKnight frequently infuses religious themes into his work, and as of late, those themes have come to dominate. His last Grammy Award nomination, meanwhile, came in 2004 for the song “What We Do Here.”

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Maltesen from Denmark // Wikicommons

#1. Morten Lindberg

Nominations: 26
Most recent nomination: 2018

Morten Lindberg tops the list of artists most frequently disappointed at the Grammy Awards. Lindberg is a revered Norwegian producer and sound engineer, and founder of record label 2L, which specializes in high fidelity classical recordings. This year Lindberg has been nominated for Best Immersive Audio Album twice, for “Folktoner” and “Sommerro: Ujamaa & The Iceberg.”

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