GRAMMY CHEW: HANDICAPPING BEST NEW ARTIST

Remember when we said Grammy does what Grammy wants, often in ways that beggar the imagination? Well, this year’s Exhibit A is the exclusion of Zach Bryan—you know, the one people were calling “a lock” and the odds-on favorite—from Best New Artist. It’s mystifying and a serious misstep, but there it is.

So, in a Bryan-less field, who seems most likely to take home the hardware? Let’s take a look at the nominees.

Muni Long: Def Jam’s R&B breakout had a huge song with “Hrs and Hrs” and has a sterling pedigree as a hit songwriter for Rihanna, Ariana Grande and other stars. Her genre bona fides and emergence as an artist are a killer combo. She looks like the current front-runner.

Anitta: Warner’s Rio-bred phenom, whose “Envolver” was a global rocket and the first cut by a Brazilian to hit #1 at Spotify, is another favorite. Her recent VMA win, Latin Grammy noms and other global laurels improve her odds in a year that saw Latin music go nuclear.

Latto: The first female rapper to hit #1 at Pop, Rhythm and Urban radio, thanks to monster smash “Big Energy,” Streamcut/RCA’s new arrival (who’s also nominated for Best Melodic Rap Performance) has exhibited a blazing charisma that cuts through the noise.

Måneskin: Arista/Sony Latin’s Roman troupe, which has enjoyed a meteoric run since winning Eurovision in 2021, has done more to revive rock in the marketplace than any act in years. The band’s momentum is growing by the minute. Could it be a wild card in this unpredictable category?

Wet Leg: This Domino duo from the Isle of Wight gets the hipster vote. Its witty single “Chaise Longue” was a left-field Alternative hit, and its Mercury Prize victory makes it even more of a tastemaker fave.

Omar Apollo: It may be a little too early for this versatile Warner artist, whose career is still building, and we look for him to achieve greater prominence in his next chapter—with his ample charm and ability to navigate multiple genres in English and Spanish, he is likely to make a big noise.

Molly Tuttle: The singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is representing for bluegrass in this year’s batch, and her Crooked Tree (Compass) is nominated for Bluegrass Album. Beloved in the Americana world—and in the notable absence of Bryan—she gets the country vote.

DOMi & JD Beck: This frighteningly gifted progressive-jazz duo was ushered into the mainstream by fellow muso Anderson .Paak, whose Apeshit! JV with Blue Note put out their debut album. With negligible marketplace impact, they’re serious long shots. But so was Esperanza Spalding.

Samara Joy: Another jazz outlier, the Verve vocalist has already performed at Carnegie Hall and Newport and been embraced on TikTok. Her release Linger Awhile is a contender in the Jazz Vocal Album category. Might she have the Jon Batiste mojo?

Tobe Nwigwe: The Houston-based rapper-singer-actor’s work (out via United Masters) bridges hip-hop and R&B and has scored some high-profile fans, including Michelle Obama. He recently got a nice look as a contributor to the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ST. Could he acquire Grammy superpowers?

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