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GRAMMY CHEW: A LONG SHORT LIST FOR BEST NEW ARTIST

Grammy nominations are a ways off, but the Grammy conversation is well underway—and no category occasions as much chatter as Best New Artist. There are plenty of contenders, but a few names appear to be in the foreground at present.

We note that Grammy’s cockamamie rules mean that certain potential nominees who would otherwise seem destined for a nod are disqualified. Then again, those rules change every 10 minutes, and Grammy decides when to bend them. So the one rule you can expect to see applied consistently is this one: Grammy does what Grammy wants.

That said, here are some names we might see on the nominations list this fall. Did we miss someone crucial? Let us know. But please use your inside voice.

Zach Bryan: This leading exponent of so-called Red Dirt Country is inviting comparisons to Springsteen with his earthy, emotionally direct songs. Warner’s Bryan is a touring and streaming giant who’s electrifying fans. He'd likely do the same for the Grammy telecast. A clear favorite for the short list.

Muni Long: After writing hits for Rihanna, Ariana Grande and other big acts under the nom de plume Priscilla Renea, this R&B specialist adopted a fresh artist moniker, broke out with the streaming hit “Hrs and Hrs” and became the first major signing at the new Def Jam. She’s a serious contender to represent the genre in BNA.

BRELAND: This New Jersey native is one of several Black artists transforming the country genre, mixing in hip-hop, blues, rock and gospel touches while staying true to the form’s down-home dynamic (and collaborating with genre mainstays like Keith Urban, Thomas Rhett, Sam Hunt and Dierks Bentley). What’s more, he’s a hugely appealing presence.

Anitta: This charismatic Brazilian artist is a worldwide superstar, and she recently earned a Guinness Book of World Records certification as the first solo Latin artist to hit #1 at Spotify (thanks to huge single “Envolver”). A live sensation who recently rocked Lollapalooza in Europe as well as Coachella, she looks destined for continued stratospheric success.

Lauren Spencer-Smith: This young Canadian was another indie streaming breakout (thanks to “Fingers Crossed”) and became a big signing for both the new Island team (via Island/Republic) and Warner/Chappell. Her sharp, distinctive songwriting makes her a standout in a field crowded with up-and-coming solo females. 

Yahritza Y Su Esencia: To hear her sing, it’s hard to believe Yahritza Martinez is 15 years old—she’s plugged into something timeless. And amid a larger boom in Latin music, this sibling trio from the Washington burg of Yakima (and freshly inked to Columbia) brings an almost punk-rock edge to música Mexicana. Explosive fan activity on TikTok and elsewhere give an inkling of how huge these kids might become. A Grammy TV spot could be a major catapult—just sayin’.

Coi Leray: This Republic rapper/singer has been bubbling under for a while; she released various mixtapes, an EP and more (including TikTok fave “Twinnem”) before dropping her official album debut this year. As comfortable purring silky R&B as she is delivering hard-charging bars (and holding her own in high-profile duets), she’s a powerful, sexy presence.

Måneskin: With “SUPERMODEL,” Arista/Sony Latin’s Italian quartet has its second straight #1 Alternative-radio smash, following the global monster that was “Beggin’.” After conquering Eurovision with their Roman revelry, they’ve made the world safe for glam again. If Grammy wants a vibrant young rock collective in the mix, ciao bella.

Latto: Thanks to the irresistible earworm “Big Energy,” Columbus, Ohio’s Alyssa Michelle Stevens, aka RCA breakout Latto, became one of the few female solo rappers to hit #1 on the pop chart. With a brassy star power akin to Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's—but arguably even more pop appeal—Latto rules every stage she steps on. Little wonder that Grammy speculation around her has become, er, energetic.

Em Beihold: This Moon Projects/Republic contender (and freshly inked Sony Pub tunesmith) is another in that large class of impressive new female singer/songwriters vying for Grammy love. L.A. native Beihold scored a pop breakthrough with the engaging and timely “Numb Little Bug,” and her witty sensibility—and ability to turn mental-health struggles and other modern challenges into catchy pop themes—suggests a real arrival.

Nardo Wick: RCA's Jacksonville rapper has a buzzing new collab with The Kid LAROI. Nardo, who gained widespread attention last year, has been endorsed by hip-hop insiders, earning the sobriquet “your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper.” With a strong visual presence to match his confident flow, he’s also drawn a crowd on TikTok.

Dove Cameron: Disruptor/Columbia’s thrush, now on a pop run with the smoky come-on “Boyfriend,” bears a superficial vocal resemblance to Billie Eilish and possesses a Disney-machine background like Olivia Rodrigo's. She’s another strong contender in that crowded class of solo females.

JOJI: Warner’s pop/rock singer/songwriter, the breakout star of the group 88rising, has a global smash with the soulful ballad “Glimpse of Us,” which has dominated the DSPs since its arrival. It’s not his first giant hit (“Slow Dancing in the Dark” has nearly a billion streams), and as usual, he's connected directly with a giant audience.

Yeat: After becoming a viral sensation on YouTube and TikTok with tracks like “Gët Busy”—and earning shout-outs from Drake and other high-profile players—Field Trip/Geffen’s Portland-based rapper scored big streams and a Top 5 chart debut with this year’s 2 Alivë, which featured guests like Gunna and Young Thug. With a penchant for coining his own terms (including his cannabis-inspired moniker) and a fondness for umlauts, he’s an offbeat new arrival who’s found his own lane.

Tate McRae: We weren’t kidding about the preponderance of impressive young female singer/songwriters in the current class. RCA’s Calgary native McRae, who’s all of 19, went to #1 with the mesmerizing “you broke me first.” Her overall approach applies an appealing gloss to post-Eilish angst.

Bailey Zimmerman: Another new country voice, Warner Nashville’s 22-year-old phenom from small-town Illinois has earned huge streams and attracted big crowds with stripped-down sounds, gritty vocals and an intimate take on the time-honored “three chords and the truth” mantra. He’s the real deal—and could be poised for crossover fame.

Wet Leg: This smarty-pants distaff duo from the Isle of Wight earned a score of indie-rock admirers with 2021’s pulsing “Chaise Longue” (a VMA Push Performance nominee), and their recent Mercury Prize nomination has upped their already high hipster quotient. Could they be BNA’s left-field dark horse?

We’re also watching: Doechii, BLXST, BoyWithUke, Tems, Rosa Linn, Sebastian Yatra, Girl in Red, Omar Apollo and assorted K-pop ensembles (including Seventeen, Aespa and Stray Kids).

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