The Grammy’s are coming and the most exciting category that we are all waiting for is Best New Artist. There are some exciting artists that have broken out in the last year. But some names may sound more familiar than others. Groundbreaking songs and performances have come from all of these new names that have been nominated. These artists not only make music but make a stance and even sometimes a political one, whether their fans appreciate it or not.
It’s hard to say who will take home the award for Best Artist of the Year. Does it depend on views? Likes streams or revenues or all/none of the above? Probably streams and revenues if your considering a Grammy award but shouldn’t the award go to the artist who made the most impact-musically and culturally? Let’s take a look at all the artists nominated and their impact on us not just musically but dare I even say it, politically.
The Grammy’s claim that their best new artist award goes to the artist that “achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and notably impacted the musical landscape,” according to their site, but I fear it may just go to the most “popular” artist whether that artists’ impact was great or not. Will the artist that wins this award be around in 10 years or have changed the industry at all? There are some groundbreaking artists in this category that are making an impact inside and outside their industry but if they win, that is up to the academy.
This article will highlight the artist that is most likely to take home the Grammy for Best New Artist but also the artists that are making waves outside the industry as well as inside. Emphasizing what artists had the most impact on not just contemporary music fans but the public as a whole. Who made the biggest impact and will be remembered for decades to come not just the next couple of years? Let’s take a look at each artist nominated individually.
1. Black Pumas
Black Pumas are a funk and soul group from Austin, Texas who got their start, interestingly, when a Latinx music producer, Adrian Quesada, was looking for a vocalist and found one in an American Idol contestant, Eric Burton, and have since then been making history with their duo Black Pumas. Their most notable song being “Colours,” Black Pumas’ first single came out in 2018 with two songs entitled “Fire” and “Black Moon Rising.” Since then they’ve making music that resembles the productions for the Wu-Tang-Clan with “scratchy drum loops, hits of strings, funky electronic pianos, and fuzz guitar,” according to Pitchfork.com. Black Pumas is nominated for best new artist and their song, “Colors” made it to NPR’s “World Cafe: Best Songs of 2019.”
2. Billie Ellish
Billie Ellish, the favorite for the Grammy for The Best New Artist of the Year, is an American singer and songwriter from LA. Bille Ellish has been around since 2017 with two albums and her most notable songs being “Bad Guy,” “When the Party’s Over,” and “Lovely.” But why is Billie Ellish the favorite? She preaches about speaking her truth and people seem to eat it up with songs with contemporary, almost universe altering beats and soft vocals, its doesn’t even matter what she is signing about, the listener automatically feels as if they are transported into another dimension.
Ellish’s music is almost addicting but what is the message behind it? Ellish’s music makes listeners feel good, her music caters to the current generation and the raves and house parties they love to go to and is feel good music but what does she stand for as an artist? Money’s on Billie Ellish to take home the Grammy for Best New Artist as she makes great music but there are other artist in the category who have perhaps made more of an impact than her.
3. Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X became a household name with his breakout single “Old Town Road” that became the longest running No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 and stretched the boundaries of the country music scene. Lil Nas X is a rapper but his song “Old Town Road” went back and fourth between being considered country or rap until country singer Billy Ray Cyrus came on the track and solidified that it was a country song. X’s other popular songs include “Panini” and “Rodeo which are more Hip-hop but still include guitar and melodies that resemble country.
What really makes Lil Nas X stand out is he was one of the first in his industry to come out as gay. The timing of his coming out made it a big statement as he did it when he was at the top of his career. X has said in interviews he wanted to come out when he was on top so people wouldn’t think he was just doing it for attention. A big artist coming out at a big-time in their career in an industry where being gay is taboo is forever going to change the path for other gay rappers and the industry stereotypes.
Lizzo is a pop artist that has made waves inside and outside the industry. She is changing the way we see a popstar and marching to the beat of her own drum. Lizzo won the Apple Music award for Breakthrough Artist with her breakout hits “Truth Hurts,” “Good as Hell,” and “Juice.” Her songs are anthems for female empowerment and self-confidence. She promotes body confidence and just confidence in general. Lizzo encourages girls to love themselves in a time where they so desperately need it.
The era of stick-skinny, blonde popstars is over and Lizzo is proof of that. In a time where women are constantly put down and shamed for how they look or how much they weigh, Lizzo shows girls that they should love their bodies and themselves especially with her album cover where she sits naked and unapologetic. Lizzo proves that the future is female not just in the music industry but everywhere.
5. Maggie Rogers
Maggie Rogers is an alternative artist who combines folk, dance, and R&B to create her unique sound. Her most notable songs being “Light On,” “Alaska,” and “Fallingwater,” Rogers has been releasing songs and EPs since 2017. This year was the release of her first album. Inspired by great signers like Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu, Rogers has been making music since middle school.
Rosalia is a Pop artist from Spain that has been releasing albums and songs since 2017. Her 2017 album won her a Latin Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. Now she’s nominated in the same category for the American Grammy Awards. Her music style draws attributes from hip-hop, soul, rap and pop. Rosalia’s first album has been compared to the raw nature of Johnny Cash’s American Recordings album. She has made female empowerment anthems and has already won many awards for her music in Spain. She might be a true contender for this award.
7. Tank and the Bangas
Tank and the Bangas are a R&B and Soul band that released a breakout album this past year in May after not releasing an album since 2013. The lead singer and the poet of the band have been compared to Jill Scott. The band draws musical influences from soul, funk, hip-hop, reggae, and rock. The band’s claim to fame was when they won NPR’s third Tiny Desk Contest. It is a video submission contest in which the winner gets trips to performing their music.
Yola is an English singer and songwriter who had her first album released this past December. With some of her most notable songs being “Faraway Look,” “Ride Out in the Country,” and “I Don’t Wanna Lie,” Yolo has been on the music scene since 2016 when she released her first EP. Yola fights for feminism in a place where it is frowned upon in her home country and being stereotyped as a backup singer instead of the star. Yolo is making waves in England and now in America as well.
These are all great artists. Some may win the Grammy because they are the most buzz-worthy and have gotten the most press. But there are some really great artists in this category that are changing the industry and the culture. Watch the Grammy’s live on January 26 at 5 pm to see if your favorite wins!