6 Best New Artist Grammy Winners Who Wouldn't Be Eligible to Compete in That Category Today

Lauryn Hill
Frank Micelotta Archive/Getty Images

Lauryn Hill in the press room at the 41st Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 1999.

The Recording Academy makes changes to its rule book every year, probably more so to best new artist than any other category. The goal is to strike the right balance -- not too restrictive (Richard Marx was disqualified in 1987 for having contributed one track to a soundtrack album the previous year) or too permissive (Shelby Lynne won when she was on her sixth album).

Largely as a result of these rule changes, six artists who won best new artist in the past wouldn't be eligible to compete in that category today.

Here's a complete list:

1962 - Robert Goulet: The star had appeared on the Broadway cast album to Camelot, which was nominated for the 1960 award for best show album (original cast), now known as best musical theater album. He had two solos on the album, "C'Est Moi" and the show's standout ballad, "If Ever I Would Leave You."

Back then, the principal performers -- in this case, Julie Andrews, Richard Burton and Goulet -- weren't nominated in that category. The nod went solely to the show's composers -- in this case, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. Nowadays, principal performers on Broadway cast albums are also nominated. A nomination in this category would have precluded Goulet from competing for best new artist in 1962 when his first studio album, Always You, was released.

That would have cleared the way for one of the other best new artist nominees: comedian Vaughn Meader (who won two Grammys that year for his Kennedy family spoof, The First Family), Peter, Paul & Mary (which won two Grammys that year for their hit single "If I Had a Hammer"), New Christy Minstrels (which won a Grammy that year for their debut album, Presenting The New Christy Minstrels), comedian Allan Sherman (who had three nods that year) or Four Seasons (which had two).

1969 – Crosby, Stills and Nash: All three of these musicians were well known when they came together to record this classic album. David Crosby had been in The Byrds, Stephen Stills in The Buffalo Springfield and Graham Nash in The Hollies. What's more, as a member of The Byrds, Crosby had received a Grammy nomination (for best new artist of 1965).

Either of these factors would keep a similar "super-group" from competing for best new artist under today's rules. Here's the Grammy rule in question: "In a newly established group, if one group member has had a previous Grammy nomination, the group cannot be eligible in best new artist. Also, if any group members were ever prominent in a previous eligibility year, as a group, they would not be eligible for best new artist.

CSN's disqualification would have cleared the way for one of the other nominees: Neon Philharmonic (the pop group had two nods that year) or Chicago, Led Zeppelin or Oliver (who had one each). It's interesting that Neon Philharmonic, one-hit-wonders for "Morning Girl," had more nods that year than Chicago or Led Zeppelin, legendary groups that have both been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and have both been voted lifetime achievement awards from the Recording Academy.

1987 – Jody Watley: As a member of the pop/R&B trio Shalamar, Watley had received a Grammy nomination four years previously for "Dead Giveaway." The hit single was nominated for best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocal.

Under today's rules, that earlier nomination would have knocked Watley out of contention. Here's the Grammy rule in question: "In best new artist, any artist with a previous Grammy nomination as a performer (including a nomination as an established member of a nominated group) is not eligible."

Watley's disqualification would have cleared the way for one of the other nominees: Terence Trent D'Arby (who won a Grammy that year for best R&B vocal performance, male for his debut album, Introducing The Hardline According to Terence Trent D'arby), Swing Out Sister (which had two nods that year) or Breakfast Club or Cutting Crew (which had one each).

1989 – Milli Vanilli: The rules, then and now, require artists to actually, you know, perform on their albums to be eligible in this category. Picky, picky! Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan were forced to give their Grammy back when it was revealed that they hadn't sung a note on their debut album, Girl You Know It's True. (Official Grammy records don't even acknowledge their existence.)

If Milli Vanilli had been disqualified, it would have cleared the way for one of the other nominees: Soul II Soul (which won two Grammys that year in the R&B field), Indigo Girls (which won a Grammy that year for best contemporary folk recording for their first U.S. release, Indigo Girls), rapper Tone Loc (who had two nods that year) or Neneh Cherry (who had one).

1998 – Lauryn Hill: As a member of the hip-hop trio Fugees, Hill had received three Grammy nominations two years previously. In fact, Fugees won in two categories that year -- best rap album for The Score and best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocal for their hip-hop update of the Roberta Flack classic "Killing Me Softly With His Song." Again, the prior nods would preclude an artist from competing for best new artist today.

Hill's disqualification would have cleared the way for one of the other nominees: Dixie Chicks (which won two Grammys that year in the country field), Natalie Imbruglia (who had three nods that year), or Backstreet Boys or Andrea Bocelli (who had one each).

2000 – Shelby Lynne: Lynne won best new artist for her sixth studio album, I Am Shelby Lynne. Current rules don't allow an artist to have released more than three albums (or 30 singles/tracks) prior to the current eligibility year.

Lynne's disqualification would have cleared the way for one of the other nominees: Sisqó (who had four nods that year), Jill Scott (who had three), Papa Roach (which had two) or Brad Paisley (who had one).

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