Like many other R&B-loving music fans, I look forward to the BET Awards each year. The 20th edition of the awards show is set for June 28 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Of course, the event may need to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic; Billboard has reached out to BET, but the network has yet to announce a change in plans.
We need genre-specific shows like the BET Awards and the Soul Train Music Awards, as well as the various country music awards shows, because an all-genre show like the Grammy Awards simply can’t cover everything.
Here’s an illustration:
The BET Awards have had a best new artist category since the show originated in 2001. Four of their winners also won the Grammy for best new artist: Alicia Keys (2002), John Legend (2005), Sam Smith (2015) and Chance the Rapper (2017). But that leaves 15 BET winners for best new artist who didn’t win the Grammy in that category. Seven were nominated but lost. Eight weren’t even nominated.
The seven BET best new artist winners who were nominated for, but lost, the Grammy in that category are 50 Cent (2003, lost the Grammy to Evanescence), Kanye West (2004, lost to Maroon 5), Chris Brown (2006, lost to Carrie Underwood), Keri Hilson (2009, lost to Zac Brown Band), Nicki Minaj (2010, lost to Bon Iver), Kendrick Lamar (2013, lost to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis) and SZA (2018, lost to Alessia Cara).
The eight BET best new artist winners who weren’t even nominated for the Grammy in that category are Nelly (2001), Jennifer Hudson (2007), The-Dream (2008), Wiz Khalifa (2011), Big Sean (2012), August Alsina (2014), Bryson Tiller (2016) and Lil Baby (2018).
And this may be the most amazing stat of all: Eight of the 19 BET best new artist winners have yet to win a Grammy in any category. They are Hilson, Minaj, Khalifa, Big Sean, Alsina, Bryson, SZA and Lil Baby. Minaj and Khalifa have each tallied 10 Grammy nominations without a win. SZA is a beat behind with nine nods without a win.
The BET Awards have presented an album of the year award the past three years. All three of their winners were Grammy-nominated for album of the year, but none of them won. Beyoncé’s Lemonade, the 2017 BET winner, lost the Grammy to Adele’s 25. Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN., the 2018 BET winner, lost the Grammy to Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic. Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy, the 2019 BET winner, lost the Grammy to Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour.
(Lemonade won a Grammy for best urban contemporary album. DAMN. and Invasion of Privacy both won for best rap album. But in terms of publicity and prestige, that’s not the same thing as winning the top prize.)
The Grammys have five R&B and four rap categories among their 84 total categories.
(For the record, Hudson was ineligible for a Grammy nomination for best new artist for 2008, the year her debut album was released. She had been nominated for a Grammy the previous year for the Dreamgirls soundtrack, on which she was featured.)