Another year, another set of Grammy Award nominees to predict and just days after the eligibility period ended, the 2018 show is looking increasingly wide open for potential nominees. I’m taking a look at the toughest category first, for Best New Artist.
Lil Uzi Vert
Rag n Bone Man
Alternatives: Brett Young, Julia Michaels, James Arthur
Every year I come into the Best New Artist predictions with a lean towards the acts that have broken out globally and not just in the US. In the past this has seen me mention British acts like The 1975 and George Ezra who have never made the cut in the end. You’d think I’d have learned by now, but my gut feeling is telling me that Rag’n’Bone Man could sneak into the mix here. He ticks just about every box that the Grammy Awards will be looking for. Huge voice, interesting diverse mixture of musical styles as well as that feeling that he can only get even bigger following an appearance at ‘Music’s biggest night’ Even if Human hasn’t been as big in the US as say James Arthur’s Say You Won’t Let Go, or New Rules from Dua Lipa, I still feel he’s the sort of artist the academy loves to go after.
Outside of the ‘UK act’ something everyone predicting in this category does is include at least one Country act, there has been at least one country nominee here every year since 2005. The easy to understand Brett Young and Luke Combs are both looking like strong chances here, but given the lack of potential female nominees I’ve opted for ex American Idol alumni Lauren Alaina whose journey to the top of the Country Airplay chart with Road Less Traveled was one of the years most exciting and surprising stories. I could see the same voters who stick behind Carrie Underwood year after year rooting for Lauren in 2018.
Hip Hop acts have frequented the Best New Artist category for a number of years now and following Chance The Rapper’s deserving win earlier this year, there’s a few potential acts that could make an appearance here. Rae Sremmurd are hardly ‘New’ but the viral success of Black Beatles might have been enough here, while Bodak Yellow helped Cardi B become the first solo female rapper to hit #1 in nearly 2 decades. I’ve opted instead for Lil Uzi Vert, who took his debut album to #1 on the Billboard 200 chart as well as the huge radio hit XO Tour Llif3, with his Bad and Boujee cohorts Migos taking the next slot. They were my early choice in this category back in May and given the 12 months that Quavo, Offset and Takeoff have had appearing on 9 top 40 hits on the Hot 100 between them. They are most definitely the biggest commercial breakthrough of the year, but there’s another act who has emerged as the out and out favourite here.
Khalid has seemingly appeared from nowhere in 2017 and at just 19 seems to have become the year’s most left field breakthrough. With two platinum singles to his name, an album that seems to only be solidifying its place in the top 10 week after week a nomination is obvious. It’s his star turn on Logic’s 1-800-273-8255 though that all but guarantees this award for Khalid. He’s a young, genuinely exciting artist with a string of brilliant songs to back up this early promise. The comparison to Lorde is obvious and while she may have unexpectedly been absent from this very category back in 2014, I really can’t see the same happening to Khalid in 2018. He’s the one to beat here.