The Grammy Award – the music industry’s highest honor – has eluded Chris Brown despite eight nominations. That losing record could change with his new disc, “F.A.M.E.” The album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard this week buoyed by good reviews and bad publicity. (Vote in our poll to the right of this item.)
Of course, Chris Brown is no stranger to negative press. Two years ago, he and his then-girlfriend Rihanna ranked as the top male and female pop singles artists in the country. Both were nominated for multiple Grammys, even facing off for the second year in a row in a collaboration category. However, their relationship imploded just hours before the kudocast. The pair had spent the preceding evening together at the star-studded party thrown annually by recording executive Clive Davis. Then early Sunday morning, Brown assaulted Rihanna as they drove home. Brown canceled his appearance on that night’s show where he was scheduled to perform “Forever.”
Following the firestorm, Chris Brown released his third album “Graffiti” at the end of 2009. Despite so-so reviews and middling sales, he earned three Grammy nominations for the disc. However, he was defeated in all three bids, losing Best Contemporary R&B Album to “Raymond vs. Raymond” by Usher, Best R&B Duo/Group for his collaboration with Tank on “Take My Time” to “Solider of Love” by Sade and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration with Tyga and Kevin McCall for “Deuces” to “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.
In 2009, Brown and Rihanna competed against each other for Best Pop Collaboration. Brown and Jordin Sparks were nominated for “No Air” while Rihanna and Maroon 5 were up for “If I Never See Your Face Again.” Both duos lost to the night’s big winners Robert Plant and Allison Kraus for “Rich Woman.” Brown also lost Best R&B Male Vocal for “Take You Down” to Ne-Yo (“Miss Independent”).
In 2008, Rihanna and Jay-Z won Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Umbrella” over, among others, Brown and T-Pain for “Kiss Kiss.” Brown was also bested for Best Contemporary R&B Album for his self-titled debut by Ne-Yo (“Because of You”) and for Best New Artist by Carrie Underwood.
Can Brown ever win with the Grammys? The recording academy represents the more conservative wing of the music industry. As such, it doesn’t like to give awards to people who reflect poorly upon the profession. A rebel spirit is tolerated in certain genres — such as rap and rock — and sometimes even celebrated, because such edginess drives mass music sales. However, the Grammys remain wary of the more rebellious recording stars. The rap artists who win with the Grammys are of the Will Smith and Jay-Z variety who have four and seven awards respectively, rather than the likes of the snubbed Snoop Dog and Notorious B.I.G.