Justin Bieber was shut out at the 2022 Grammys, despite eight nominations – twice as many as he’d ever had in any one year. He’s not the first artist to go 0-for-8 at the Grammys. Three other superstars — Rihanna, Kanye West and Jay-Z — have experienced the same fate in recent years.
When the 1965 awards were announced in March 1966, Paul McCartney went 0-for-9, which remains the biggest shutout in Grammy history. But that was five years before the Grammys became a live telecast, so few even noticed. (The Grammys really only became the Grammys as we know them when they became a live telecast in 1971.)
The list of people who have been shut out in any given year (despite receiving seven or more nominations) includes some of the biggest Grammy winners of all time, including Stevie Wonder, who has won 25 career awards; West and Jay-Z, who have each won 24; and McCartney, who has won 18. Apparently, anybody can have an off night.
Let’s take a closer look at Grammys’ top shutouts – all the artists who received seven, eight or nine nominations in one year and lost ’em all.
Paul McCartney, 0-9 (1966)
The shutout: McCartney’s nominations included record and song of the year for “Yesterday” and album of the year for The Beatles’ Help! soundtrack. John Lennon went 0-for-5 that year. You may be wondering how it is that McCartney had more nods than his songwriting partner. Because “Yesterday” was a McCartney solo vocal performance, the Grammys credited only him (rather than The Beatles) in that category and also in three other performance-linked categories for the track – best vocal performance, male; best contemporary (R&R) single; and best contemporary (R&R) vocal performance, male. (R&R stands for “rock and roll,” though “Yesterday” was hardly rock & roll. The Grammys basically meant “relevant to this young audience we’re trying to figure out.”) McCartney and The Beatles had won two Grammys at the 1964 awards, so after two years of virtually unprecedented world domination, they had won just two Grammys. (The late Roger Miller, a witty country singer/songwriter best known for the marvelous “King of the Road,” won 11 Grammys in this same two-year period. No disrespect to Miller, but c’mon Recording Academy, we’re talking The Beatles here!)
What happened next: Lennon and McCartney won song of the year the very next year for “Michelle,” a charming song, but one that is hardly in the class of “Yesterday.” The year after that, The Beatles finally won album of the year for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. (They never managed to win record of the year, despite nods for “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Yesterday,” “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be.”) After the shutout, McCartney went on to win 16 more Grammys, bringing his career total to date to 18. The Recording Academy has since honored The Beatles on just about every anniversary imaginable. So that long-ago shutout is now officially ancient history.
Rihanna, 0-8 (2017)
The shutout: Rihanna’s nominations included record of the year for “Work” (featuring Drake), album of the year as a featured artist on Drake’s Views and best urban contemporary album for her own Anti. It’s the biggest shutout by a female artist in Grammy history.
What happened next: The following year, Rihanna won another Grammy, her ninth, for best rap/sung performance as a featured artist on Kendrick Lamar’s “LOYALTY.” Rihanna has yet to release her studio follow-up to Anti (which was released in January 2016). Let’s hope the Grammy shutout didn’t have anything to do with Rihanna slowing the flow of albums.
Kanye West, 0-8 (2017)
The shutout: West’s nominations included album of the year as a producer on Drake’s Views and best rap album for his own The Life of Pablo.
What happened next: Two years after the shutout, West received his first nomination for producer of the year (non-classical). He didn’t win, but that’s such a competitive category, it really is “an honor just to be nominated.” West has won three Grammys in the last two years, bringing his career total to 24, which puts him in a tie with Jay-Z for the most by a rapper.
Jay-Z, 0-8 (2018)
The shutout: Jay-Z’s nominations included record of the year for “The Story of O.J.,” album of the year for 4:44, and song of the year for the album’s title track.
What happened next: Jay expressed his displeasure with the shutout on “Apeshit” on The Carters’ Everything Is Love: “Tell the Grammys f— that 0-for-8 shit/ Have you ever seen the crowd goin’ apeshit?” Memo to the Grammys: Never disappoint someone so skilled with a pen. Jay has won three more Grammys since the shutout. Everything Is Love (the album that contained that Grammys blast) won best urban contemporary album. He also won best rap song for co-writing the Megan Thee Stallion/Beyoncé collab “Savage” last year and the West/Jay collab “Jail” this year. This brings Jay’s Grammy total to 24, which puts him in a tie with West for the most by a rapper.
Justin Bieber, 0-8 (2022)
The shutout: Bieber’s nominations included album of the year for the deluxe edition of Justice and record and song of the year for “Peaches” (featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon).” Bieber and his featured artists also performed that pop/soul jam on the telecast.
What happened next: Let’s hope Bieber continues to make great records without too much concern for whether they win Grammys. And let’s hope that Grammy voters come to realize they have been underrating this talented artist, who bears no more resemblance to the kid who sang “Baby” than Justin Timberlake does to the kid who sang “Bye Bye Bye” or Michael Jackson did to the kid who sang “ABC.”
Stevie Wonder, 0-7 (1983)
The shutout: Wonder’s nominations included record of the year for “Ebony and Ivory,” a glossy ode to interracial harmony that he recorded with McCartney, plus nods for his solo hits “That Girl” and “Do I Do.”
What happened next: Wonder has since won 10 more Grammys, to add to the 15 he had won prior to the shutout. This shutout came amid a nine-year Grammy gap between Wonder’s glory period in the ‘70s, when he won 15 Grammys in a four-year span, and his return to Grammy form with the 1985 album In Square Circle.
India.Arie, 0-7 (2002)
The shutout: India.Arie’s nominations included each of the Big Four awards – album of the year (for Acoustic Soul), record and song of the year (for “Video”) and best new artist. She lost ‘em all, and three more besides. India.Arie performed “Video” on the telecast.
What happened next: India.Arie came back the very next year and won two Grammys – best R&B album for Voyage to India and best urban/alternative performance for “Little Things.” She has won four Grammys all told.
Kendrick Lamar, 0-7 (2014)
The shutout: Lamar’s nominations included album of the year for good kid, m.A.A.d city and best new artist. He lost those two awards, and two others, to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
What happened next: Macklemore posted a message to Lamar on his Instagram saying that Lamar should have won for best rap album: “You got robbed. I wanted you to win. You should have. It’s weird and sucks that I robbed you … Congrats on this year and your music. Appreciate you as an artist and a friend. Much love.” Lamar has gone on to win 14 Grammys, including best rap performance this year for “Family Ties,” a collab with his cousin, Baby Keem. Lamar has yet to win a Grammy for album of the year (despite three more nods for To Pimp a Butterfly, DAMN. and the Black Panther soundtrack), but he did receive a Pulitzer Prize for DAMN., which is a pretty fair consolation prize.
Billie Eilish, 0-7 (2022)
The shutout: Eilish’s nominations included record and song of the year for “Happier Than Ever” and album of the year for her album of the same name. Eilish made history at both of her first two Grammy telecasts. In 2020, she became only the second artist (following Christopher Cross) to win in each of the Big Four categories. In 2021, she became only the third artist (following Roberta Flack and U2) to win back-to-back awards for record of the year. Actually, she made history this year too. At 20, she’s the youngest artist to go 0-for-7 at the Grammys.
What happened next: With her boundless talent and that of her equally talented collaborator and producer, Finneas, we can be sure that there are many more awards in her future – and more importantly, more great music from her.