Most popular songs that never won a Grammy

Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

Most popular songs that never won a Grammy

According to the Recording Academy, Grammys are awarded to honor excellence in the recording arts and sciences. The award, which is voted on by a body of artists and technical professionals in the recording industry, recognizes the best of the best, making it the most prestigious award in music.

The accolade isn’t given based on sales numbers or chart positions, but to some, the award should be a good indicator of what songs, artists, and albums have been the most successful over the previous year. Unfortunately, that isn’t always how it works. Ever since the first Grammy Awards took place more than six decades ago, the Recording Academy has often failed to award several popular, important, and culturally significant songs with a win.

Stacker combed through the Billboard All-Time Hot 100 Chart and, starting with #1, identified the 33 songs that topped the charts without winning any Grammys. According to Billboard, the All-Time Hot 100 songs are “ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at #1 earning the greatest value and weeks at lower spots earning the least. Due to changes in chart methodology over the years, eras are weighted differently to account for chart turnover rates during various periods.” Data was updated in January 2023.

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Ranked from lowest to highest rating on the Billboard All-Time Hot 100 Chart, these songs—ranging from “Call Me” by Blondie to “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO to “Endless Love” by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie—may not have won any Grammys, but they were all wildly successful with listeners. You might even be surprised by some of the tracks that were snubbed.

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Cecil Glenn and Steve Gibson pose for portrait at Billboard Music Awards.

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#33. ‘Whoomp! (There It Is)’ by Tag Team

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #82
– Year: 1993

Tag Team’s one and only hit, “Whoomp! (There It Is)” is arguably one of the most well-known party songs in American history. The duo didn’t actually come up with their famous tagline; instead, they borrowed it from dancers at the Atlanta-area strip clubs where they appeared. The upbeat track spent 24 nonconsecutive weeks in the Top 10 and is certified platinum, having sold more than 4 million copies.

Stevie B performs on stage.

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#32. ‘Because I Love You (The Postman Song)’ by Stevie B

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #79
– Year: 1990

Before he recorded “Because I Love You (The Postman Song),” Stevie B was best known for his freestyle tracks, a genre that blends Latin rhythms and melodies with electronic beats. This contemporary ballad, which spent four weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, was his first attempt at making more commercially viable records.

Kesha performs onstage during the 2010 American Music Awards.

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#31. ‘Tik Tok’ by Ke$ha

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #68
– Year: 2009

Kesha’s debut single “Tik Tok” was reportedly inspired by a real-life experience of waking up in her shared Los Angeles pad the morning after an epic house party. An instant hit, the track spent nine weeks in the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the most downloaded digital single of 2010 selling 12.8 million copies.

Mario poses for portrait.

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#30. ‘Let Me Love You’ by Mario

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #58
– Year: 2004

It was Mario’s fellow R&B star, Ne-Yo, who actually wrote the lyrics to the 2004 hit “Let Me Love You.” The song earned the distinction of being the first track to reach #1 in America that Ne-Yo ever worked on. Overall, “Let Me Love You” spent nine weeks in the top spot, also claiming the #1 position in Germany and New Zealand.

Debbie Harry performing onstage.

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#29. ‘Call Me’ by Blondie

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #57
– Year: 1980

American rock band Blondie wrote “Call Me” with European disco producer Giorgio Moroder for the 1980 film “American Gigolo.” The song was intended to be the first single off of an album-length collaboration between the two parties, but, as fate would have it, the final project never came to fruition. Moroder told Billboard magazine that the experience was a difficult one, “There were always fights. … We went to the studio, and the guitarist was fighting with the keyboard player. I called their manager and quit,” he said. Still, “Call Me” remains Blondie’s top-charting song in America.

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Robin Thicke performing onstage.

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#28. ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #51
– Year: 2013

In 2013, Billboard dubbed “Blurred Lines” the song of the summer. And while the track was a fan favorite, there was also an immense amount of controversy surrounding it, both for its racy content and for its alleged copyright infringement. In December 2018, a five-year legal battle ended with Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams having to pay $5 million to Marvin Gaye’s estate after a judge ruled that the duo’s track was too similar to Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.”

Carly Rae Jespen performing onstage.

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#27. ‘Call Me Maybe’ by Carly Rae Jepsen

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #50
– Year: 2012

Another Billboard-dubbed song of the summer, Carly Rae Jepsen’s smash hit “Call Me Maybe” made history when it spent nine weeks at #1 on the Hot 100, the most time a Canadian-born woman has ever spent in the spot since the chart’s debut. The song stood out in other ways as well: In 2012, it was the most purchased song on iTunes, the most viewed music video on Vevo, and the bestselling single globally.

Andy Gibb performs onstage.

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#26. ‘Shadow Dancing’ by Andy Gibb

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #49
– Year: 1978

Unless you’re a die-hard music trivia nerd, you might not be aware that Andy Gibb is the younger brother of Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb, aka The Bee Gees. While a substantial age difference kept Andy from ever joining his brothers’ band, the foursome did write a lot of music together, including Andy’s hit “Shadow Dancing.” In 1978, the brothers Gibb performed the track together at a Jai-Alai Fronton Studios performance in Miami, marking the first time they’d perform together in concert.

The Beatles performing onstage.

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#25. ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ by The Beatles

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #48
– Year: 1964

In 1963, The Beatles sat down at EMI Recording Studios, which in 1976 was renamed Abbey Road Studios, to record “I Want to Hold Your Hand” after their manager, Brian Epstein, asked them to write something for the American market. While the group was already wildly popular in Europe, they hadn’t yet gained the same notoriety across the pond. Upon its Dec. 26, 1963, release, the song was a runaway hit, selling 10,000 copies an hour in New York City alone.

Studio portrait of Tommy Edwards.

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#24. ‘It’s All in the Game’ by Tommy Edwards

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #47
– Year: 1958

“It’s All in the Game” by Tommy Edwards holds the distinction of being the only #1 hit ever written by a U.S. vice president. The song was composed by and dubbed “Dawes’ Melody” in 1911 by then-banker Charles Gates Dawes, who became vice president of the United States under Calvin Coolidge in 1925. In 1951, lyrics were added, and the name was changed by a Brill Building songwriter named Carl Sigman.

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Tony Orlando and Dawn performing onstage.

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#23. ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree’ by Dawn featuring Tony Orlando

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #46
– Year: 1973

After reading a story in Reader’s Digest about a Civil War soldier’s homecoming called “Going Home,” songwriters L. Russell Brown and Irwin Levine wrote their song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” in a single day. The song, which was based on a folk tale, became a cultural phenomenon. All over the country, people began tying yellow ribbons on trees to welcome soldiers home from Vietnam.

Nickleback performing onstage.

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#22. ‘How You Remind Me’ by Nickelback

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #45
– Year: 2001

Before it released “How You Remind Me” on Sept. 11, 2001, Nickelback had already completed two unremarkable albums. But it was this single, based on a fight that lead singer Chad Kroeger had with his then-girlfriend, that really catapulted the group into the spotlight. The single became the most-played song on U.S. radio stations in 2002 as well as the most-played song of the first decade of the 21st century.

Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson pose for portrait.

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#21. ‘Say Say Say’ by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #44
– Year: 1983

Throughout the course of their professional relationship, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson recorded and released three duets: “The Girl is Mine,” “The Man,” and “Say, Say, Say.” While “Say, Say, Say” wasn’t the first duet released by the musicians, it was the first one that they worked on together. The track topped Billboard charts for six straight weeks in 1983, eventually getting knocked off by Hall & Oates’ “Say It Isn’t So.”

Queen performing on stage.

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#20. ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ by Queen

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #43
– Year: 1980

Queen’s bassist, John Deacon, wrote the music and lyrics for “Another One Bites the Dust,” which would be the band’s second #1 hit in the United States. In 2019, on the “Ultimate Classic Rock Nights” radio show, Deacon revealed that the lyrics everyone sings along to today weren’t actually his original lyrics. The first draft of the song was more lighthearted and funny, telling the story of a bunch of cowboys who literally “bit the dust.” After recording the backing track, however, Deacon realized the song was “much heavier” than he’d originally thought, and he ended up rewriting the entire thing.

Marvin Gaye performing on stage.

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#19. ‘Let’s Get It On’ by Marvin Gaye

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #41
– Year: 1973

When it was originally written by Ed Townsend, “Let’s Get It On” was about the singer’s desire to move on with life after beating his alcoholism. However, after Marvin Gaye got his hands on the track, the meaning and lyrics completely changed. The 1973 single cemented Gaye’s reputation as a singer of “baby-making music,” and “Let’s Get It On” has been used in TV shows, movies, and commercials ever since to indicate an imminent romantic situation.

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Paul McCartney performing onstage with Wings.

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#18. ‘Silly Love Songs’ by Wings

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #40
– Year: 1976

Billboard named “Silly Love Songs” the #1 hit of 1976 after it topped the Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks. It was also Paul McCartney’s biggest hit with his band Wings. The former Beatle reportedly penned the song in response to a comment from his ex-bandmate John Lennon who claimed the only songs McCartney ever wrote for the Beatles were “silly love songs.”

Savage Garden performing onstage.

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#17. ‘Truly Madly Deeply’ by Savage Garden

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #39
– Year: 1998

Australian duo Savage Garden reworked an older, unreleased song called “Magic Kisses,” completely rewriting the chorus, to create its best-known hit “Truly Madly Deeply.” After a radio station in Dallas added it to its playlist, the song, already popular in Australia, began to take off in America. When it reached the #1 position on the Billboard charts in January 1998, it became the first Australian track to hold the position in more than 15 years.

Mariah Carey smiles for portrait.

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#16. ‘One Sweet Day’ by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #38
– Year: 1995

The Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men collaboration “One Sweet Day” broke records when it spent 16 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100—though the record was broken by Lil Nas X’s song “Old Town Road” in 2019. The 1995 single was actually a combination of two separate songs: one written by Mariah Carey about the death of David Cole, and one written by Boyz II Men about the death of their road manager Roderick “Khalil” Rountree. The songs complemented each other so well that the artists could easily merge them together to create what Rolling Stone dubbed “the best-ever musical collaboration.”

Bobby Lewis poses for a studio portrait.

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#15. ‘Tossin’ and Turnin” by Bobby Lewis

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #36
– Year: 1961

Despite the fact that “Tossin’ and Turnin'” hit #1 on the Billboard charts and sold more than 3 million copies, R&B crooner Bobby Lewis never became a household name. After the wild success of his first single, he only released one more commercially successful song titled “One Track Mind.”

Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee performing onstage.

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#14. ‘Despacito’ by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #33
– Year: 2017

Reggaeton is a genre of music that combines elements of traditional Latin music with American hip-hop. “Despacito” is the first song in the genre to hit #1 in the United States. The Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Bieber track—which took home a Latin Grammy—was wildly successful, becoming the most-watched music video on YouTube and the most-streamed song ever.

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Robert Huggar and Raphael Brown of Next perform on stage.

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#13. ‘Too Close’ by Next

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #30
– Year: 1998

While “Too Close” is an overtly sexual song, the content didn’t stop the track from becoming the biggest hit in 1998. Next’s single spent a whopping 38 weeks on Billboard’s Top 20. The song is also credited with starting the suggestive dance style called “freaking” which remains popular in clubs around the world.

Andy Gibb posing for portrait.

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#12. ‘Just Want to Be Your Everything’ by Andy Gibb

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #29
– Year: 1977

The first repeat artist on the list, Andy Gibb had another single, “Just Want to Be Your Everything,” that never won an award despite how popular it was with audiences around the world. The uber-romantic track was written by Gibb’s brother Barry and became the solo artist’s first #1 record—he had three total, including the already discussed “Shadow Dancing.”

Flo Rida performing onstage.

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#11. ‘Low’ by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #28
– Year: 2008

Flo Rida’s early aughts smash hit “Low” remains nearly just as popular today as it was more than a decade ago. Upon its release, the track, which is about a girl the artists met in a strip club, topped the charts in America, Canada, France, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand. Today, it still gets played at bars and parties around the country.

Chic performing onstage.

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#10. ‘Le Freak’ by Chic

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #24
– Year: 1978

After being rejected at Studio 54 on New Year’s Eve 1977, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers wrote “Le Freak” as a reply to the doorman who turned them away. In their original draft of the song, the word “freak” was a four-letter expletive, but upon recording the track they changed the f-bomb to a more radio-friendly alternative. After the band’s song held the #1 spot on the Billboard charts for six straight weeks, the group never again had trouble entering the infamous nightclub.

Jewel performs onstage.

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#9. ‘You Were Meant for Me/Foolish Games’ by Jewel

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #20
– Year: 1997

When she wrote “You Were Meant for Me/Foolish Games,” country crooner Jewel was homeless and living out of her car. Upon the track’s release in 1996, the song became the most-played song on the radio and Atlantic Records’ bestselling single ever. As a result, Jewel became the first Atlantic Records artist to grace the cover of Time magazine, earning enough to leave homelessness a distant memory.

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Rod Stewart performing onstage.

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#8. ‘Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)’ by Rod Stewart

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #19
– Year: 1976

Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)” was partially responsible for the phrase “sex rock” entering the lexicon in 1975. Describing songs like Stewart’s that are clearly about seduction and the more intimate aspects of a relationship, the sex rock genre was one that faced a huge amount of pushback from the general public that worried the lyrics would loosen the morals of young people. Despite the critical reception, the single remains one of the rocker’s personal favorites.

Lionel Richie and Diana Ross perform onstage.

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#7. ‘Endless Love’ by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #18
– Year: 1981

When Lionel Richie wrote and recorded “Endless Love” with the iconic Diana Ross, he was still a part of the funk/soul band the Commodores. While Ross was at the height of her career when the track was released, Richie wouldn’t launch as a solo artist until nearly a year later, and wouldn’t achieve international success until the mid-’80s. And although the two artists were on different career trajectories, they still sang together once more on the 1985 hit “We Are the World.”

The Chainsmokers performing onstage.

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#6. ‘Closer’ by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #13
– Year: 2016

For both Halsey and The Chainsmokers, “Closer” was the musicians’ first hit to reach #1 on the Billboard charts. It remained in the position for 12 weeks, in the top 10 for 26 weeks, and nabbed a spot on Billboard’s 100 Best Pop Songs of 2016 list. So while the love song, which earned diamond status after selling 10 million copies, never won a Grammy, it did wonders for the artists’ respective careers.

The Beatles posing for photo on stage.

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#5. ‘Hey Jude’ by The Beatles

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #12
– Year: 1968

The first song recorded on The Beatles’ own Apple Records label, “Hey Jude” was written primarily by Paul McCartney. He came up with the first lines for the song while driving out to Weybridge to visit Cynthia Lennon and her son Jules. The Lennons were in the midst of a messy divorce, and McCartney wanted to tell little Jules “I know you’re not happy, but you’ll be okay.”

Olivia Newton-John smiling for photographers.

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#4. ‘Physical’ by Olivia Newton-John

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #10
– Year: 1981

Olivia Newton-John’s suggestive 1981 smash hit spent 10 weeks at the top of the Hot 100 and was a part of the music video revolution. MTV also made its debut in 1981. The track was originally written for Rod Stewart, who’s no stranger to racy tracks, but once it landed in Newton-John’s hands, producers knew they had struck gold. The crooner herself remembered the track and its wild success fondly, telling Entertainment Weekly in 2017, “I wish I could still do all that!”

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LMFAO performing onstage.

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#3. ‘Party Rock Anthem’ by LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #6
– Year: 2011

LMFAO’s summer 2011 song “Party Rock Anthem” spent a total of 68 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. The track’s 47-week drop from the #1 spot, broke a record, beating Savage Garden’s “Truly Madly Deeply” 44-week fall from the top.

LeAnn Rimes performing in concert.

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#2. ‘How Do I Live’ by LeAnn Rimes

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #5
– Year: 1997

At the 1998 Grammy Awards, LeAnn Rimes lost out in the Best Country Vocal Performance category to Trisha Yearwood. What did Trisha Yearwood win for? Her version of the same song. This marked the first time in Grammy’s history that two artists had been nominated for the same song in the same category. And while Rimes didn’t go home with a Grammy that night, she at least got to perform her version of the track during the show.

Chubby Checker performing ‘The Twist’ with dancers.

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#1. ‘The Twist’ by Chubby Checker

– All-Time Hot 100 rank: #1
– Year: 1960

“The Twist” was arguably Chubby Checker’s biggest hit, but it wasn’t an original. The first group to record the song was Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, but their version never really took off. In fact, Chubby Checker’s version didn’t do that well at first either. It wasn’t until he performed it on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” in 1960 that it really became the cultural phenomenon everyone knows today.