Best New Artist
Chance The Rapper
Twenty One Pilots
Alternatives: Christine & The Queens, Desiigner, Shawn Mendes
As always, I’m kicking off Grammy nomination prediction season with Best New Artist the award I’m notoriously bad at predicting. Last year I was convinced that Meghan Trainor wouldn’t win and she did, but at least I had her pegged as a nominee. This year I’m feeling oddly confident about my picks, all with major success under their belt. We have a Billboard 200 #1 act; a multi-platinum singles act; the newest country pop crossover hit; a previous Grammy nominee and a hip hop artist who influenced a massive change to the Grammy rules.
Let’s start with that last one, Chance The Rapper and his streaming only mixtape Coloring Book that helped instigate a change that allows music that is not available for purchase to be nominated. Obviously it wasn’t the only factor, but the fact remains that it was the first album to make the billboard Top 10 based purely on streams. Chance The Rapper has also made huge impact appearing on huge albums from mentor Kanye, as well as the Queen of Pop herself Madonna. He would be my personal choice here, but I’ll be satisfied to see him nominated this year.
Next up we have a pair of country stars who have both seen a huge rise to success in the last 12 months. Cam was my early favourite back in June for this award and I still think she’s got a big chance here. Burning House was a nominee for Country Solo Performance last year and her full album Untamed lived up to the initial hype. That said, with discernible follow up finding success on Country radio, she may not be able to compete with the other country star listed above. Thanks to 5 CMA nominations Maren Morris is the hot favourite country act to contend for this award next year. Her breakout hit My Church lodged her firmly between the country and pop world, while album Hero proved that she had massive breakout potential. I could see her scoring quite a few nominations, with Best New Artist the most prolific of the bunch.
Probably the act that I hadn’t predicted would become such a big contender a few months ago is Twenty One Pilots. They haven’t really taken off in a huge way over here, but they’ve had a permanent place in the Hot 100 Top 10 for most of 2016, following their breakout hit Stressed Out last year. That song won’t actually be eligible for this year’s awards, but thanks to Suicide Squad Soundtrack hit Heathens I could see them being a big contender here. They have a Macklemore kind of vibe to them too, which we know the Grammy voters definitely go for.
That leaves the final spot on the list above which I found difficult to decide. Previously I’d thought that Desiigner might use the success of Panda to score a nomination, but considering Fetty Wap missed out last year I’ve reconsidered. Both Zayn and Shawn Mendes were early favourites too, the former ruled out for eligibility thanks to the huge success of One Direction, while the latter could fill the ‘young songwriter’ role that voters love at just 18. I’ve opted for an unexpected pick, that made more and more sense when I thought about it. The 1975 may not be as ‘new’ as the rest of these acts, it’s their second album that became a transatlantic chart topper, but from experience this is exactly the sort of career rise that the voters go for. Young, unlike anything else that could be nominated, with a killer live show and radio worthy hits to boot, I’m starting to see them as a real contender here. Watch me be completely wrong when they aren’t even submitted for the category, but something tells me The 1975 could have huge success at the upcoming ceremony.
Of course, we are only just at the start of the voting period, so there could be some big favourites that become obvious once the submissions lists begin to surface. As always, I’ll be taking a look at various genre awards as well as the remainder of the ‘Big 4’ in the coming weeks.