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Most famous musicians who haven't won a Grammy

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RickDiamond//GettyImages

Most famous musicians who haven't won a Grammy

How does the success of a good musician or group get measured? Album sales are a reliable gauge, but then so are awards—none more prestigious than the Grammy. At Stacker, our team examined whether commercial success had a relation to industry acclaim.

Using data from RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), artists were analyzed using the combined numbers of their certified album sales and digital singles. To be considered, artists needed a minimum of 10 million total certified album units or five million certified digital single units. They were ranked first by sales by unit, with ties broken by accounting for monthly Spotify listeners.

Next, we reviewed the top artists to determine whether or not they've received a Grammy, which we have sourced directly from the Grammy archives (Lifetime Achievement Grammy awards were not considered). Read on to discover the artists whose commercial impacts weren't enough to impress the powers that be at the Recording Academy.

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Jim Summaria // Wikicommons

#49. The Who

Total certified units: 21.0 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 5.5 million

Whooooooo are you? The British rock band behind the rock opera “Tommy” and with groundbreaking hits like “My Generation” certainly needs no introduction—but you wouldn't know that by the group's Grammy track record. The rock band was nominated twice for Best Long Form Music Video in 1990 and in 2008 (long after the group's peak success in the '60s and '70s) but failed to nab it either year. The Who's music did eventually receive some love from the Academy in 2001 when the band received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

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ChristianPetersen//GettyImages

#48. 3 Doors Down

Total certified units: 21.0 million (12.0 million albums, 9.0 million digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 5.5 million

If you listened to rock radio in the early 2000s, you're likely familiar with 3 Doors Down—the band behind “Kryptonite”, “When I'm Gone”, and “Here Without You” are songs synonymous with that era. The group was only ever nominated for one Grammy in 2002, for Best Rock Performance By A  Duo or Group with Vocals—but lost out to a little British band called Coldplay.

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Flickr user Wok // Wikicommons

#47. Kiss

Total certified units: 21.0 million (albums)

Spotify monthly listeners: 5.7 million

Known for band members' black and white makeup and entertaining performances, this rock band was nominated only once: in 1998 for Best Hard Rock Performance (on the track “Psycho Circus”). Alas, the Grammy went to fellow classic rockers Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (of Led Zeppelin fame) for the song “Most High.”

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Rosa Casapullo // Wikicommons

#46. Avril Lavigne

Total certified units: 21.0 million (13.5 million albums, 7.5 million digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 9.9 million

Avril Lavigne of “Sk8er Boi” and “Complicated” fame was nominated eight times between 2002 and 2003, and never once managed to pull a win. Perhaps that was the inspiration behind her song, “What the Hell?”

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Takeshi // Flickr

#45. The Notorious B.I.G.

Total certified units: 21.0 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 10.1 million

Though Notorious B.I.G. managed to “Hypnotize” rap fans with his easily distinguishable flow and style, he never brought home the golden gramophone. He was nominated four times, three of which were after his tragic death in 1997. One of the awards B.I.G. was nominated for that year was Best Rap Solo Performance, which went to Will Smith for the family-friendly “Men in Black.” Smith dedicated the award to Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur, referring to both deceased rappers as “prophets”—which means the artist born Christopher Wallace received some regard on the Grammy stage at least once.

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Tore Satre // Wikicommons

#44. Ellie Goulding

Total certified units: 21.0 million (digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 22.5 million

By the time 2015 rolled around, Ellie Goulding already had multiple hit songs like “Lights” and “Burn,” but no Grammy nominations. But it was her song “Love Me Like You Do” (which appeared on the “50 Shades of Grey” soundtrack) that catapulted her career into Grammy territory. The pop ballad was nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance, but the win went to Ed Sheeran.

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Eddie / monosnaps // Wikicommons

#43. Bob Marley & The Wailers

Total certified units: 21.5 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 9.2 million

Bob Marley is often considered the father of reggae, so how is it possible he—with or without his group The Wailers—was never so much as nominated for a Grammy? The explanation is simpler than you might think: The Best Reggae Album category did not exist until 1985, which was four years after Marley had died of cancer.

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HultonArchive//GettyImages

#42. Heart

Total certified units: 22.5 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 3.9 million

Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson helm this rock group, which has raked in four Grammy nominations over three different years but no wins. The band nevertheless topped the charts across the '70s, '80s, and '90s with guitar-driven anthems like “Crazy On You” and “Barracuda” and softer-rock tunes like  “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You” and “Alone.”

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HultonArchive//GettyImages

#41. The Beach Boys

Total certified units: 22.5 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 11.4 million

As shocking as it may seem that The Beach Boys never won a Grammy, the group did receive the 2001 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.  “Good Vibrations” earned the band three nominations in 1966, which was just the ninth Grammy awards ever. The Beach Boys were not nominated again until the 31st Grammy awards in 1988 for the song “Kokomo.”

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KevinWinter//GettyImages

#40. Jimmy Buffett

Total certified units: 23.0 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 1.3 million

Perhaps more mind-bending than Jimmy Buffett only being nominated for a Grammy twice is that neither of the nominations was from his “Margaritaville” era. In 2003 and 2004, Buffett was nominated for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals for “It's Five O'Clock Somewhere” and “Hey Good Lookin'” respectively. Neither nomination garnered a win.

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Reprise Records // Wikicommons

#39. Jimi Hendrix

Total certified units: 23.0 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 5.7 million

Iconic '60s guitarist Jimi Hendrix's nearly two-hour Woodstock set that concluded with a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner landed him a Grammy nomination in 1970 for Best Contemporary Instrumental Performance. Though he failed to win that Grammy, 22 years later he was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Six other Hendrix recordings to date have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

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FrederickMBrown//GettyImages

#38. Big Sean

Total certified units: 23.0 million (digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 11.9 million

Big Sean has had five Grammy nominations over four years for Best Rap Song, Best Rap Performance, Album of the Year, and Best Rap Collaboration. Though he could still go on to be nominated for more Grammys and perhaps even win one, he's definitely missed his window for Best New Artist.

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Nightshooter // Wikicommons

#37. Kid Rock

Total certified units: 23.5 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 2.8 million

First entering the fray as a rapper, Michigan native Kid Rock entered the mainstream music scene more than a decade later in 1999 with song “Bawitdaba”—a song that got him nominated twice that year for Best New Artist and Best Hard Rock Performance (neither of which he won). He went on to earn three more Grammy nominations over the course of nine years but has yet to get his hands on the statuette.

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MikeCoppola//GettyImages

#36. The Cars

Total certified units: 23.5 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 2.9 million

Emerging on the New Wave rock scene in 1978, the Cars have six Grammy nominations over the course of six years. The band's popular and iconic songs include “My Best Friend's Girl,” “Just What I Needed,” and “Drive.” Of those songs, only “Drive” was nominated for Best Pop Performance by A Duo or Group, but it was defeated by The Pointer Sisters' “Jump.”

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MikeWindle//GettyImages

#35. Nickelback

Total certified units: 24.0 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 6.9 million

Considering the pop culture phenomenon of making fun of Nickelback, it's probably not surprising the group has never won a Grammy. Regardless of whether or not the group is the brunt of jokes, band members have enjoyed undeniable commercial success (their song “How You Remind Me” was U.S.'s most-played radio song of the 2000s). Nickelback has been nominated for five different Grammys in five different years; and while no one in the group is holding a golden gramophone, they're all likely laughing their way to the bank.

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stock_photo_world // Shutterstock

#34. Future

Total certified units: 24.0 million (digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 21.0 million

The relatively new artist Future has been nominated for three Grammys, including two in 2018 for his song “King's Dead.” In 2016 he was up for a Grammy on Drake's album “Views,” which was nominated for Album of the Year. That was the same year Adele won the Album of the Year award and broke it in half for Beyoncé. A word to the wise: Never get nominated for a Grammy in the same category as Adele.

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LarryPhilpot//WikiCommons

#33. R.E.O. Speedwagon

Total certified units: 24.5 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 2.5 million

A band whose music spans four decades and is still touring, REO Speedwagon was nominated for one Grammy in 1981. The band was nominated for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for the album “Hi Infidelity,” but lost to The Police's monster hit “Don't Stand so Close to Me.”

 

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jeffSchear//GettyImages

#32. DJ Khaled

Total certified units: 24.5 million (digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 16.8 million

DJ Khaled's songs are unmistakable: They usually start with him helpfully yelling “DJ Khaled!” The American DJ and producer has been nominated for two Grammys: the first for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for his song “I'm On One” with Drake, Rick Ross, and Lil' Wayne; and the next in 2016 for Best Rap Album for “Major Key.” He lost to newcomer Chance the Rapper, who also took home the Best New Artist Grammy that year.

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HultonArchive//GettyImages

#31. Rush

Total certified units: 25.0 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 2.2 million

Rush came out on the music scene from Canada in 1974 and is still around today. More than 40 years in the music industry brought the group seven different Grammy nominations in seven different years, six of which were for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. Though the band remains Grammy-less, it were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

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RandyMiramontez//Shutterstock

#30. Creed

Total certified units: 25.0 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 2.5 million

Creed made its mark on rock music in the early 2000s hits like “Higher,” “With Arms Wide Open,” and “My Sacrifice.” The latter two songs were nominated for Grammys in the Best Rock Duo or Group With Vocal category (in 2000 and 2002 respectively).  Considering the band's last nomination was in 2002, it's impressive there's still have a fanbase—which includes 2.5 million monthly Spotify listeners.

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AmandaEdwards//GettyImages

#29. Mötley Crue

Total certified units: 25.0 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 3.1 million

The self-proclaimed “World's Most Notorious Rock Band,” has been nominated for three Grammys over the course of almost 20 years. The first nomination for Mötley Crue came in 1989 for Best Hard Rock Performance for “Dr. Feelgood;” the last came in 2008 for Best Hard Rock Performance for “Saints of Los Angeles.” Though the band signed a contract to never tour again after 2015, band members reunited to record four new songs at the end of 2018—so maybe a Grammy is still on the horizon.  

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EPhotos//Flickr

#28. ZZ Top

Total certified units: 25.0 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 3.9 million

Almost as famous for its band members' long beards (excluding the beardless drummer, whose last name is Beard) as for its music, ZZ Top has helmed classic hits such as “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs,” and “La Grange.” The group was nominated for Grammys in 1983 and 1986, although no wins were brought home. Nevertheless, in 2004 ZZ Top was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Photo by Sgt. Michael Connors // Wikicommons

#27. Miley Cyrus

Total certified units: 25.0 million (digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 28.5 million

The “Party in the U.S.A” and “Malibu” singer came onto the music scene like a wrecking ball after playing Disney's Hannah Montana in the show of the same name. She earned a Best Pop Vocal Album Grammy nomination in 2014 for “Bangerz,” but lost to Sam Smith. Maybe it's a family curse: Her father, country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, was nominated for four Grammys and never won.

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DanielBoczarski//GettyImages

#26. Fall Out Boy

Total certified units: 25.5 million (digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 11.1 million

Arriving on the music scene in 2005, Fall Out Boy was immediately nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy but lost to John Legend. The band has another chance: The album “Mania” was nominated for 2018 Best Rock Album.

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JohnSciulli//GettyImages

#25. Rae Sremmurd

Total certified units: 26.0 million (digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 13.0 million

Rae Sremmurd is a relatively new duo that emerged on the hip-hop scene in 2015. To date, the group has no Grammy nominations; but the 2016 hit “Black Beatles” went platinum six times, serving as a reminder that success in the music industry can be exclusive of awards.

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EthanMiller//GettyImages

#24. Jason Derulo

Total certified units: 27.5 million (digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 21.9 million

Jason Derulo is another artist on the list who sings his own name at the beginning of his songs—and who has not received any Grammy nominations despite impressive sales. Songs such as “Whatcha Say,” “Wiggle,” “Talk Dirty,” and “In My Head” have catapulted him into commercial success and found him on Forbes's “30 Under 30” list in 2016.

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RonJenkins//GettyImages

#23. Lynyrd Skynyrd

Total certified units: 28.5 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 7.6 million

Considering how pervasive Lynyrd Skynyrd's “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird” have become in popular culture, it's notable that the band never received a Grammy or even a nomination. The group has received other honors, however, like a 2006 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.

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Matt Winkelmeyer // Getty

#22. Wiz Khalifa

Total certified units: 30.5 million (digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 19.1 million

Wiz Khalifa has been nominated 10 times in different categories between 2011 and 2015.  His most nominated song is “See You Again,” which was featured in the movie “Furious 7” as a tribute to Paul Walker. The song was nominated for Song of the Year, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, and Best Song Written For Visual Media. It did not win any Grammys, but it did become the most watched YouTube video of all time.  

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Eva Rinaldi // Wikicommons

#21. Nicki Minaj

Total certified units: 30.5 million (digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 33.5 million

Nicki Minaj has raked in a whopping 10 Grammy nominations to date. Her first nomination was in 2010 for her collaboration on Ludacris' “My Chick Bad.” The following year she was up for Best New Artist, Album of the Year, Best Rap Performance, and Best Rap Album. That's a pretty impressive freshman year in the music industry. Though she remains Grammy-less, she is the only female rap artist to have 14 songs hit the Top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100.  
 

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PremierTalentAssociates//WikiCommons

#20. Boston

Total certified units: 31.0 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 3.7 million

Prog-rock group Boston was nominated in 1976 for a Grammy for Best New Artist of the Year. Though the band didn't bring home the gold, Boston did end up with a massive hit song in “More Than A Feeling” and careers that have spanned more than four decades.

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Emma // Wikicommons

#19. Ariana Grande

Total certified units: 31.5 million (digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 61.1 million

Ariana Grande made it big in 2013 with her song “The Way.” Since then, she's had six Grammy nominations. The “God is a Woman” singer is currently up for two Grammys this year for Best Pop Vocal Performance and Best Pop Album. Considering her age and talent, there will be more nominations in her promising future even if she doesn't win.

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ElektraRecordsJoel-Brodsky//WikiCommons

#18. The Doors

Total certified units: 33.0 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 6.0 million

“Light My Fire,” “Riders On the Storm,” “Break On Through (To the Other Side),” and “People Are Strange” are just some of the rock anthems by the iconic band The Doors. Helmed by Jim Morrison, The Doors never received a Grammy award—because the group never received a Grammy nomination. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted The Doors in 1993, so the band at least broke on through to that particular side.  

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TabithaFireman//GettyImages

#17. Post Malone

Total certified units: 34.0 million (digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 42.4 million

The Post Malone story may need a postscript, as he is currently nominated for four Grammys: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, and Best Rap/Sung Performance. His Spotify monthly listeners number outranks every artist on this list. The rapper/producer is known for songs such as “Better Now,” “Psycho,” “rockstar,” and “White Iverson”—as well as his face tattoos.

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Raph_PH//WikiCommons

#16. Def Leppard

Total certified units: 35.5 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 3.7 million

The 1980s came and went without Def Leppard receiving one Grammy nomination for its megahits “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Hysteria.” Def Leppard is, however, being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.

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HultonArchive//GettyImages

#15. Creedence Clearwater Revival

Total certified units: 35.5 million (28.0 million albums, 7.5 million digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 9.1 million

As such a prominent rock band of the late '60s and early '70s, you would think Creedence Clearwater Revival would have at least received a Grammy nomination. The group's sheer number of hits—including “Down on the Corner,” “Fortunate Son,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Green River,” “Lodi,” “Born on the Bayou,” and “Proud Mary"—at least earned the band an induction in 1993 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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NoamGalai//GettyImages

#14. Kesha

Total certified units: 35.5 million (digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 9.3 million

Though she emerged on the pop scene in 2010, it was not until 2017 that Kesha was nominated for two Grammys: Best Pop Solo Performance on “Praying” and Best Pop Vocal Album for “Rainbow”. “Rainbow” was her first album to be released in five years and was thought of as a comeback for the singer, but she lost both awards to Ed Sheeran.

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JasonKempin//GettyImages

#13. Toby Keith

Total certified units: 36.0 million (25.0 million albums, 11.0 million digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 2.5 million

Oklahoma country music star Toby Keith has pulled in seven Grammy nominations over the course of 13 years. Some of his hits include “Should've Been a Cowboy,” “Red Solo Cup,” and “Beer for my Horses.” Just because Toby Keith does not have a Grammy to his name does not mean that he doesn't have awards: he has won 13 American Academy of Country Music Awards and three CMA Awards.

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JasonKempin//GettyImages

#12. Blake Shelton

Total certified units: 36.0 million (10.0 million albums, 26.0 million digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 4.7 million

Just like fellow Oklahoman country star Toby Keith, Blake Shelton has acquired seven Grammy nominations and never once won. The “I'll Name the Dogs” and “Forever Country” singer is probably too busy to worry about winning Grammys—he has been a coach on the NBC show The Voice for 15 seasons and recently opened a chain of restaurants.

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Anirudh Koul // Wikicommons

#11. Backstreet Boys

Total certified units: 37.0 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 16.1 million

Though the popular boy band Backstreet Boys was nominated for eight Grammys, they never secured a win. The group, famous for songs like “I Want It That Way,” is in good company: One Direction, ‘N Sync, Jackson 5, and New Kids on the Block all never won Grammys, either. But Backstreet could be back: The group is up for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

 

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HultonArchive//GettyImages

#10. Foreigner

Total certified units: 37.5 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 4.8 million

Another legendary rock group that got its start in the '70s and is still touring today, Foreigner has been nominated for three Grammys over years. Though the band failed to win the awards, Foreigner has a veritable hit parade on its hands with epic tracks like “Feels Like the First Time” and “Hot Blooded.”

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KevinWinter//GettyImages

#9. Florida Georgia Line

Total certified units: 39.0 million (digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 12.1 million

Though Florida Georgia Line is considered a country music group, the band has also enjoyed success with pop collaborations. The group is currently nominated for a 2018 Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance on Bebe Rexha's “Meant to Be.” Though Florida Georgia Line hasn't nabbed a Grammy yet, the band did receive Billboard's first Trailblazer award.

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ChristopherPolk//GettyImages

#8. Jason Aldean

Total certified units: 40.0 million (11.5 million albums, 28.5 million digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 4.8 million

Country music star Jason Aldean has been nominated for four Grammys, three of which were in 2011 and one in 2013. He never managed to bring any of those Grammys home—and looking at the year of his last nomination, one could assume he is no longer making music. The Academy of Country Music would beg to differ: Aldean has won 13 ACM awards, including Entertainer of the Year three times (2015, 2016, and 2017).

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Ed Vill // Wikicommons

#7. Guns N' Roses

Total certified units: 44.5 million (albums)
Spotify monthly listeners: 13.9 million

In 2012 the “Sweet Child O' Mine” group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, although there will be no Grammys to display. It's hard to imagine that, given that the group is one of the most popular hard rock bands of all time with 44.5 million albums sold and four Grammy nominations.

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KevinWinter//GettyImages

#6. Flo Rida

Total certified units: 49.5 million (digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 12.4 million

Rap artist Flo Rida has the magical combination of amazing digital sales, loyal Spotify listeners, and multiple Grammy nominations. In fact, he has five nominations—two of which were for his song “Low” (which ended up being a Tom Cruise comedy vehicle in the movie “Tropic Thunder).”

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Matt Becker // Wikicommons

#5. Journey

Total certified units: 53.0 million (48.0 million albums, 5.0 million digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 8.3 million

Famed rock group Journey never won a Grammy. And the one time the band was nominated, it wasn't for “Don't Stop Believing,” “Open Arms,” or “Any Way You Want It” (it was in '96 for “When You Love a Woman”). Journey was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017, however, so it's safe to say the band's journey has been more satisfying than that “Sopranos” finale.

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RickDiamond//GettyImages

#4. Kenny Chesney

Total certified units: 58.5 million (30.5 million albums, 28.0 million digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 4.1 million

Country king Kenny Chesney has been nominated six times for a Grammy, most recently in 2017 for Best Country Album. The “All the Pretty Girls” and “Get Along” singer may be Grammy-less, but he has plenty of awards to his name: He's the recipient of seven CMA Awards, more than any country music performer on this list.

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RickDiamond//GettyImages

#3. Luke Bryan

Total certified units: 58.5 million (12.0 million albums, 46.5 million digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 5.0 million

The “That's My Kind of Night” singer Luke Bryan is most likely not singing about Grammy night. The country star has never even been nominated for the golden gramophone. Like fellow country singer and primetime-singing-show-judge Blake Shelton, Bryan is probably too busy to care about awards while he's a decision-maker on “American Idol.”

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Electra Records // Wikicommons

#2. Queen

Total certified units: 59.0 million (34.5 million albums, 24.5 million digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 39.0 million

There's no doubt Queen is king, with the band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, inspiring the 2018 Golden Globe-winning film “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and its statistic for having sold 59 million units to date. So how can such a successful and iconic band be devoid of a Grammy win? The group was nominated four times—twice in 1976 and twice in 1980—but was passed over entirely.

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FashionStock.com // Shutterstock

#1. Katy Perry

Total certified units: 99.0 million (digital singles)
Spotify monthly listeners: 16.1 million

Not only has Katy Perry sold the most certified units (99 million!) on this list, but she has also received the most Grammy nominations: 13 in total. From “I Kissed a Girl” to “Teenage Dream” to “Roar” to “Firework,” Katy Perry has become a pop legend. She may not have a golden gramophone, but her golden throne as a pop queen remains intact.

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