2002: Alicia Keys

<b>Verdict:</b> Few in the music industry pack both critical admiration and major sales the way Keys has since she first came onto the scene with “Songs in A Minor” in 2001. Even going up against commercial names such as <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PECLB001832" title="Nelly Furtado" href="/topic/entertainment/music/nelly-furtado-PECLB001832.topic">Nelly Furtado</a> and <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PECLB0040434446" title="Linkin Park (music group)" href="/topic/entertainment/music/linkin-park-%28music-group%29-PECLB0040434446.topic">Linkin Park</a>, Keys still seems the obvious favorite. Judging from all five nominees’ staying power in years since, it seems 2002 was one of the most competitive years in recent history. Not cursed.

( Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times )

Verdict: Few in the music industry pack both critical admiration and major sales the way Keys has since she first came onto the scene with “Songs in A Minor” in 2001. Even going up against commercial names such as Nelly Furtado and Linkin Park, Keys still seems the obvious favorite. Judging from all five nominees’ staying power in years since, it seems 2002 was one of the most competitive years in recent history. Not cursed.

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