Quantcast
GREIN ON GRAMMYS:
BEST NEW ARTIST

Best New Artist is always the hardest Grammy category to handicap. A lot depends on how a Screening Committee decides borderline cases. And there are always borderline cases.

While the work of the Screening Committee is supposed to be hush-hush, word leaked that Post Malone was ruled ineligible in this category. That wasn’t a complete surprise. Post’s hit debut album, Stoney, was released in the previous eligibility year, though he really took off in year two. It was similar to the situation with last year’s winner, Alessia Cara, who also had a previous year’s hit, “Here,” followed by an even bigger sophomore year. I’m not sure what the difference is between the two cases, though the Grammys might argue that Post achieved greater prominence in his first year than Cara did in hers. OK, but I could have sworn “Here” was a smash hit. Whatever.

With Post out of the running, here are some of the leading contenders to fill the eight available slots. At the end of this discussion, I'll give you my eight picks.

Dua Lipa had a pair of big hits this year, the stylish “New Rules” and “One Kiss,” a collabo with Calvin Harris. (Lipa didn’t release a new album in the eligibility year, but that was also true of Cara last year.) Lipa would be first Englishwoman to be nominated in this category since Adele, who won 10 years ago.

Juice WRLD’s debut album, Goodbye & Good Riddance, cracked the Top 5. Its distinctive single, “Lucid Dreams,” is a Top 10 radio hit. He will turn 20 on 12/2, three days before the nominations are announced. This would be a nice belated birthday present.

Two disparate artists, R&B balladeer Ella Mai and hard-rock band Greta Van Fleet, are strong candidates even though their debut albums weren’t released before the 9/30 cutoff. (They released EPs that provided the requisite number of tracks.) Ella Mai’s eponymous debut was just released (10/12); Greta Van Fleet’s debut, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, was released on 10/19.

Ella Mai, who has a #1 radio hit with the chill R&B ballad “Boo’d Up,” would be the first black British artist to be nominated for Best New Artist since Corinne Bailey Rae 12 years ago. Greta Van Fleet, which has a major rock hit with “When the Curtain Falls,” has drawn comparisons to Led Zeppelin, which 49 years ago became the first hard-rock band to be nominated in this category. (The artists’ record companies could hold off on entering them in this category until next year, but I wouldn’t recommend it. In both cases, one of their tracks is likely to be nominated this year. Once the artists are nominated, they will be ineligible for Best New Artist going forward.)

Troye Sivan has impressed fans and followers both with his music (his sophomore album, Bloom, made the Top 5 and has received strong reviews) and his matter-of-fact openness about being gay. (A New York Times feature on Sivan bore the accurate headline “Here, Queer and Used to it.”)

Bazzi’s debut album, Cosmic, cracked the Top 15, as did his hit single, the mellow “Mine.” He was nominated for Best New Artist at the VMAs. Bazzi was the opening act on a tour by Camila Cabello, who is featured on his follow-up hit, “Beautiful.”

Luke Combs and Brett Young are nominated for New Artist of the Year at the upcoming CMA Awards for the second year in a row. (CMA rules allow repeat trips to the finals.) Combs’ 2017 debut album, This One’s for You, ranked high on the country chart throughout 2018. (Why might they let Combs compete here when they’re turning down Post? This One’s for You was released in June 2017, six months after Stoney. The Grammys have long allowed a little leeway on release dates in this category.)

H.E.R. performed at the BET Awards in June. In addition, she was nominated for Best New Artist and Best R&B/Pop Artist, Female.

Chloe x Halle, a sister duo consisting of Chloe and Halle Bailey, was nominated for Best Duo/Group at the BET Awards and Best New Artist at the VMAs. Chloe x Halle is signed to Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment imprint via Columbia. They made cameo appearances in Bey’s Lemonade video album and were the opening act on Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s 2018 On The Run II tour. Chloe x Halle is vying to become the first sister act to land a Best New Artist nom since HAIM four years ago.

Marshmello, who had his biggest hit to date with “Friends,” a collabo with Anne-Marie, is vying to become the third EDM star to be nominated in this category in this decade, following Skrillex and The Chainsmokers. Marshmello has also had hit collabos with Khalid, Selena Gomez, Logic and Bastille. His sophomore album, Joytime II, was released in June.

Indie folk-rock band Lord Huron hit the Top 10 with Vide Noir, its third album (and its first for a major label, Republic).

6ix9ine’s debut mixtape, Day69, cracked the Top 5. The rapper has had two crossover hit singles, “Gummo” and “FEFE” (featuring Nicki Minaj and Murda Beatz).

lovelytheband’s Top 40 hit, “broken,” has some of the fizz that made Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still” a surprise winner last year for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. The group has opened for 5 Seconds of Summer.

Lil Pump and Hayley Kiyoko were nominated for Best New Artist at the VMAs. Lil Pump’s debut, Lil Pump, reached No. 3. His sophomore album, Harverd Dropout, is TBA. Kiyoko’s debut album, Expectations, hit the top 15.

Bebe Rexha had three Top 10 hits (collabos with David Guetta, G-Eazy and Florida Georgia Line) before the release of her debut album, Expectations. “Meant to Be,” her collabo with FGL, is the year’s biggest country crossover hit and one of the year’s biggest radio hits in any genre.

Lauv’s “I Like Me Better” is a top 15 radio hit. His compilation album I Met You When I Was 18 (The Playlist) was released in May.

Lil Baby’s debut album, Harder Than Ever, reached No. 3. It spawned a Top 10 hit, “Yes Indeed,” a collabo with Drake.

Other artists who may get a look include Madison Beer, Jonas Blue, Cheat Codes, Dhani Harrison, Lil Peep, Ashley McBryde, Alice Merton, Margo Price, Jordan Smith, Years & Years, Trippie Redd, Why Don’t We, Carly Pearce, LANCO, Russell Dickerson, Jordan Davis, Playboi Carti, Jade Bird, Lil Skies, Rich the Kid, NAV and King Princess.

Some big names that might have added luster to the category will probably be ruled out. 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 are 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.

Here are my picks, in alphabetical order:

Luke Combs
Greta Van Fleet
H.E.R.
Juice WRLD
Dua Lipa
Ella Mai
Marshmello
Troye Sivan

 

FURTHER READING

Grein on Grammys: Album of the Year

Grein on Grammys: Record of the Year

Grein on Grammys: Song of the Year

 

NEAR TRUTHS: BLOWING THE WHISTLE
Pissing outside the tent. (2/14a)
BILLIE RELEASES HAUNTING, ETHEREAL BOND THEME
The siblings strike again. (2/14a)
HITS LIST:
SURPRISE, SURPRISE
We, too, are thinking of going public. (2/14a)
NATION BUILDER
JAY BROWN
Takin' care of business. (2/14a)
STEVENSON'S
NEXT MOVE
Nice run. (2/14a)
DON'T TALK TO THE PRESS
Also, don't leak the memo about not talking to the press to the press. Please.
GRAMMY VOTING
How the sausage is made.
BIEBER'S BIG BOW
Changes changes the conversation.
PRIMARIES
So hard to decide...
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)