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GREIN ON GRAMMYS: BEST NEW ARTIST—WHO'S IN, WHO'S OUT

Grammy Whisperer Paul Grein takes a look at who’s making the cut in one of the most contentious top-tier categories. For Paul’s picks on these and other races, see our forthcoming Grammy Special issue. 

Post Malone was indeed ruled ineligible for Grammy consideration as Best New Artist, as we had earlier suggested he would be, but most of the artists who were thought to be front-runners made the entry list. Those include Luke Combs, Greta Van Fleet, H.E.R., Juice WRLD, Dua Lipa, Ella Mai, Marshmello and Troye Sivan.

Malone was nixed on the grounds that he had achieved "prominence" with his debut album, Stoney. The decision was controversial because this year's Best New Artist winner, Alessia Cara, had likewise achieved at least a measure of prominence with her previous year's hit, "Here." (The Grammy definition of prominence is a little like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's famous definition of obscenity—"I know it when I see it.")

The Grammy Screening Committee was more generous in allowing Sivan, whose 2015 debut album, Blue Neighbourhood, made the Top 10.

Jordan Smith, who won Season 9 of The Voice in 2015, is likewise eligible, even though his debut album, Something Beautiful, reached #2 in 2016. Smith would be the first winner (or contestant) from The Voice to be nominated in this category. Carrie Underwood is the only winner (or contestant) from American Idol to be nominated. She won 12 years ago.

Margo Price was given another shot at a Best New Artist nom for her sophomore album, even though her acclaimed 2016 debut album, Midwest Farmer's Daughter, was a Top 10 hit on the country chart.

Dhani Harrison, 40-year old son of the late George Harrison, is eligible. He released his first solo album in this eligibility period. (He had previously released albums with thenewno2 and the "supergroup" Fistful Of Mercy.) Harrison is vying to become the second offspring of a Beatle to be nominated. Julian Lennon was nominated 33 years ago. The Fab Four won the award 54 years ago.

Notably, two of this year's front-runners, Greta Van Fleet and Ella Mai, had not released their first studio albums by the close of the eligibility period on 9/30. They had released EPs that made them eligible.

Chris Janson was ruled ineligible, even though fellow country singers Combs and Brett Young made the cut. All three artists are nominated for New Artist of the Year at the upcoming CMA Awards. Janson has released two studio albums. These other artists have released just one.

XXXTentacion was ruled ineligible. The rapper's first album was released in August 2017, just five weeks before the start of the current eligibility year. XXX would have been the first artist to be nominated in this category posthumously.

As expected, some big names that might have added luster to the category were ruled out for various reasons. Camila Cabello and Niall Horan rose to fame in groups. Cardi B, Leon Bridges, Midland, Daniel Caesar, GoldLink, Quavo and Offset have been nominated for Grammys (as lead artists) previously, and thus were not eligible. Normani, a member of Fifth Harmony, hasn't released the minimum number (five) of solo tracks to qualify. By my count, Metro Boomin, BTS, NF and Lil Yachty had released more than 30 tracks prior to the start of the eligibility year, and thus ran afoul of another Grammy rule.

Other noteworthy artists who are not on the ballot for one reason or another include Anne-Marie, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Ozuna, $UICIDEBOY$, 6LACK, Old Dominion, Morgan Wallen, MAX, Chris Lane, Vance Joy, LOCASH, Sofi Tukker, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Grey, 21 Savage, Lil Xan, Nipsey Hussle, Tee Grizzley, BlocBoy JB, Famous Dex and Soccer Mommy.

Four artists whose names begin with "Lil" are on the ballot: Lil Baby, Lil Peep, Lil Pump and Lil Skies. Only one "Lil" has ever been nominated in this category—Lil Uzi Vert last year.

A total of 332 artists are entered for Best New Artist this year. That's the lowest total in at least five years. A total of 374 artists vied for the award last year. The tally was 376 two years ago.

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