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The least deserving award winners of all time

After Bono was named one of Glamour's Women of the Year, we delve into the archives for more howlers

The least deserving award winners of all time

Whatever you think about Bono, if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that he is not a woman.

Which makes Glamour’s decision to make the bespectacled philanthropist and songman one of their ‘Women of the Year’ winners slightly confusing. Explaining their decision, Glamour state: “For years our Women of the Year Advisory Board—made up of past winners, plus our editors—has put the kibosh on naming a Man of the Year on the grounds that men aren't exactly hurting for awards in this world, and that here at Glamour, the tribe we're into celebrating is female.”

Anyway, it got us thinking: who are the least deserving winners in history? Who took bronze statues and gold busts out of the hands of the worthy? Who, to put it frankly, didn't deserve them.

Sam Smith – 2014 MOBO Cleansweep

Now, while Sam Smith’s brand of mainstream soul could technically be described as ‘Music Of Black Origin’, it does seem a little excessive to award him, an emphatically white man, 4 of the 14 prizes up for grab that night. When you consider that Jessie J also picked up a trophy that night, a night primarily meant to address the underrepresentation of black artists in the mainstream, you have to wonder how endemic the industry’s problem is when 35 per cent of the winners end up being white.

Ed Sheeran – 2014 1XtraPowerList Topper

Wiley responded to Sheeran, a ginger middle-of-the-road acoustic balladeer, being named the ‘most important act in black and urban music’ by calling Radio 1Xtra’s selections “the saddest list in history.” Hard to disagree.

Will Ferrell – 2013 British Comedy Attendance Award

The British Comedy Awards struggled to properly establish its industry legitimacy as an evening that wasn’t merely promotional activity for ITV (and then later Channel 4), so it was something of a coup when they were able to boast genuine megastar Will Ferrell among their attendees. The funniest shouter in Hollywood scooped the 2013 ‘British Comedy International Achievement’ prize, one which suspiciously hadn’t existed in any of the British Comedy Awards’ previous 23 years and was immediately dropped the following. This didn’t escape the attentions of Johnny Vegas, who used his opportunity at the stand to quip: "Tonight is not about … giving an international award away to someone just because he was here."

Fabio Cannavaro – 2006 FIFA Ballon d’Or Winner

Blah, blah, yes the stalwart centre back and Italy captain was massively responsible for his country claiming the World Cup that year, but he also captained the Juventus side that were stripped of their honours and relegated in the aftermath of the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal. A player helping a team of cheaters to glory is, in no way, better than third placed (after Gigi Buffon, also a Juventus player) Thierry Henry, the best footballer that this Arsenal fan has ever seen and ever will see. Also fuck giving the award to defenders. Football is about goals, not stopping them. Give it back, Fabio.

Jethro Tull – 1988 Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance

A flute-drenched folk-rock band must have their fans, they had their niche, sure, but probably, probably – and I’m just spitballing here, just asking questions, just playing the old ‘devil’s advocate’ as they say – probably didn’t rock harder that year than fellow nominees Metallica.

Henry Kissinger – 1973 Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Ah, the Peace Prize. The prize awarded to the person who has caused the most peace. Not just mediated in an argument that was getting a bit tetchy in a beer garden, but like, stopped entire countries from attacking one another. Perhaps by negotiating treaties, or stopping the bloody wars which cause untold human suffering and misery to millions. So Henry Kissinger – who, during his time as Secretary of State, was involved in the bombing of Cambodia, sponsored the Pakistan army’s killing of thousands of Bangladeshis, had a hand in Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus and was accused of war crimes – is, you have to admit, a slightly ‘left field’ choice. Two Nobel members resigned in protest and the satirist Tom Lehrer declared it the day satire “became obsolete.”

John Terry – 2009 Dad of the Year

Now, nobody can argue that John Terry isn’t a father. He has the necessary children to at least qualify him in that regard. However, shortly after accepting this prize, Terry was almost immediately embroiled in a scandal that was then eclipsed by an even bigger and worse scandal. It takes something to top ‘having an affair with your best mate’s ex’ in the Bad Examples For A Father To Set stakes, and ol’ JT did just that when he racially abused Anton Ferdinand a year later. However good you thought he was on the pitch, you probably wouldn't let him babysit your kids, would you?

Adolf Hitler – 1938 Time Magazine’s Man of the Year 1938

In hindsight – and foresight, and just plain, obvious, what were you thinking? sight – this was something of a ‘bad call.’ Even in the esteemed company of George W. Bush, Ayatollah Khomeini and Josef Stalin (twice), Hitler stands out. Time Magazine have repeatedly argued that the award is not necessarily an endorsement, and is decided on impact rather than merit, however: ‘Man of the Year’ sort of, and we might be making a tiny leap Time Magazine, sort of, kind of, does sound both like an endorsement and entirely complimentary. Just a little bit. If you had no idea who Adolf Hitler was, and he strolled right up to you at a party, holding his issue of Time aloft, proudly pointing to himself on the cover and announcing he was ‘Man of the Year’, you’d think “hey, this guy seems pretty cool.” In reality, and I don’t think we’re being unfair here; Adolf Hitler was a complete jerk.  

Leonardo DiCaprio – 2016 Academy Award for Best Actor

“Oh, but he deserves it, after missing out all those other times!” you squeal. I don’t care how many times old Leo was passed over before (it was four, I Googled), and I don’t care if he arguably deserved to win before, he doesn’t deserve to be recognised as the ‘Best Actor’ for being attacked by a bear then spending two hours wincing and going “Aaaarrrrgh” in The Revenant. Anyone can pretend to be hurt. In fact, football has such a problem that it’s made it a yellow card offence. And, in my opinion, we should punish Leo similarly for this display of utter fraudulence.