This sexiest and most controversial of all categories is often the most vexing, as Grammy’s predilection for off-the-radar selections can throw off the most confident prediction. (Be honest: Did you see Samara Joy coming, eminently talented though she may be?) Last time around everyone thought Zach Bryan was a lock for a nom—and a favorite to win—and he was fully snubbed. This year, with a chance at a make-good, Grammy tossed him out on a technicality.

Also complicating matters is a preponderance of possible contenders with similar pedigrees—earthy singer-songwriters, bedroom-pop thrushes, K-pop groups and Afrobeats hopefuls abound.

Factor in all the self-interested behind-the-scenes canvassing and things get even thornier. Grammy, to coin a phrase, does what Grammy wants.

We won’t be going as far as the BNA committee often does with its left-field choices, but we believe this is a representative list of the ever-shifting state of play. As always, your mileage may vary.


Ice Spice (10K/Capitol): The biggest new-artist story in rap—she hails from the Bronx, the very cradle of hip-hop—is also the current odds-on favorite for BNA, combining verbal agility and abundant charm.

Noah Kahan (Mercury/Republic): In a market crowded with rootsy troubadours, Kahan has cut through with killer songs and an affecting voice—not to mention hits.

Peso Pluma (Prajin/Doble P): Música Mexicana flexed its muscle via this top-streaming star, whose corridos/“tumbados” sound is fortified with very contemporary attitude.

Laufey (AWAL): This supremely gifted singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s updated take on jazz has galvanized a young audience. Grammy may well want to acknowledge that.

The War and Treaty (Mercury Nashville): The Trotters, a married couple with a fascinating backstory, inject their powerful country songs with gospel, soul and fireworks. Could this be their year?

David Kushner (Virgin): With an authoritative voice and spiritual heft to his material, singer-songwriter Kushner pinged the radar big-time courtesy of “Daylight.”

Lainey Wilson (Broken Bow): The country arrival’s own winning material was supplemented by her moving feature on HARDY’s hit “wait in the truck.” Might she surpass the other country competitors?

Tate McRae (RCA): McRae, a “bedroom pop” trailblazer, broke through with “greedy” this year. Could she nab a nom, too?

Rema (Virgin): If African pop is rewarded in the Big 4 categories, this Nigerian artist could be a beneficiary. “Calm Down,” his hit with Selena Gomez, was perfectly timed.


Myke Towers (One World/Warner Latina): The Puerto Rican rapper went big in ’23 with the smash “LALA,” major collabs and a high-profile tour. Is he ready for his close-up?

Jelly Roll (Broken Bow): The imposing, face-tatted artist’s passionate, rock-infused country songs are undeniable. Could he roll into the winner’s circle?

NLE Choppa (Warner): The Memphis rapper, who separated himself from the pack with hit “SLUT ME OUT,” earned kudos for album Cottonwood 2. Has his time come?

Coco Jones (Def Jam): R&B’s only real breakout of the last year won plaudits with the silky “ICU” and has already collected a few trophies. Could she sashay onto the shortlist?

Tyla (FAX/Epic): After going viral on TikTok, this Johannesburg-bred artist looks to have a hit on her hands with “Water,” which blends ultra-smooth R&B and South African amapiano. The buzz is getting louder.

Bailey Zimmerman (Warner Nashville/Elektra): Another down-to-earth country artist with out-of-this-world streams, BZ faces colossal competition from his contemporaries in the genre. But underestimate his appeal at your peril.

Reneé Rapp (Interscope): An actress who’s made the jump to pop and cultivated a sizable audience, Rapp is a strong vocalist and an electric presence. Is she poised to make the leap?

Sabrina Carpenter (Island): This TV star turned pop chanteuse has racked up terrific streams and honed her evocative vibe. Is she ready to make her move?

Megan Moroney (Columbia): An entrancing country singer-songwriter vying for one of the coveted spots, Moroney has mondo charisma and a big record with “Tennessee Orange.”

Lizzy McAlpine (RCA): This Philly native specializing in intimate, introspective pop issued a solid album, graduated to the majors and scored with a Kahan duet. Can she stand out from the crowd?

JVKE (JVKE/AWAL): Calling this Providence native “electro-pop” seems reductive—his songwriting chops are formidable, embracing everything from emo to Tin Pan Alley. If he gets a Grammy look, he’ll likely meet the moment.

Gracie Abrams (Interscope): This L.A. popster has a knack for hitting the emotional target. Her robust streams and opening slot on Taylor Swift’s mega-tour underline her considerable allure.

Coi Leray (Republic): The New Jersey rapper has been bubbling under for a minute, but 2023 saw her hit a new level of visibility. Is there a berth for her in the BNA roster?

HARDY (Big Loud): Having graduated from hit country songwriter to vital artist in his own right, HARDY stunned with “wait in the truck”―for starters.

Davido (Columbia/RCA): A probable nominee in the new Afrobeats category, this Nigerian American, whose profile was raised via TikTok and who’s earned love for the finely wrought album Timeless, is getting serious consideration.

Lauren Spencer Smith (Island): The canny Canadian was expected to be in the BNA mix last year. She dropped an impressive album in ’23. Could she get there this time?


Stephen Sanchez (Mercury/Republic): With splendid songcraft and vintage style—plus an endorsement from Sir Elton John—Sanchez could find himself in the sweet spot.

Stray Kids (JYP/Imperial/Republic): This K-pop troupe, which scored a chart #1 a few months back, commands a hella-loyal fan base.

Jessie Murph (Columbia): The diminutive Nashvillian has a firecracker persona and catchy songs—but in a field crowded with country upstarts, can she make the cut?

Toosii (SCMG/Capitol): “Favorite Song” gave this rapper-singer one of the year’s big singles, attributable in part to tremendous TikTok action.

TWICE (JYP/Imperial/Republic): A further K-pop contender, Seoul’s nine-girl group enjoyed notable chart success this year.

FLO (Uptown/Island U.K./Republic): This distaff British soul-pop trio took the Rising Star gong at the BRITs last year. Could they wend their way into Grammy’s heart?

FIFTY FIFTY (Attrakt/Warner): Big streams on “Cupid” focused the spotlight on this K-pop quartet. Do they have the mojo?

Hailey Whitters (Pigasus/Songs & Daughters/Big Loud): The Nashville charmer made big strides over the past year. Could they take her to the vaunted pantheon?

Larry June (The Freeminded/ALC/EMPIRE): The Great Escape, this laid-back rapper’s 2023 set with producer The Alchemist, understandably made a lot of best-of lists.

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