Grammys

Spotify's Best New Artist Grammy Pre-Party Had SZA, Khalid & More Prove Their Worth: Recap

SZA, 2018
Noam Galai/Getty Images for Spotify

SZA performs onstage at 'Spotify's Best New Artist Party' at Skylight Clarkson on Jan. 25, 2018 in New York City. 

Upon walking into Spotify’s annual Best New Artist Grammy pre-party on Jan. 25 at Skylight Clarkson Sq in New York City’s West Soho neighborhood, guests were greeted (and boldly reminded) of who this year’s best new artist nominees are. The names of the five artists -- Lil Uzi Vert, SZA, Julia Michaels, Alessia Cara and Khalid -- were plastered onto the entryway walls several times in larger-than-life red text.

Celebrities continued to trickle down the indoor black carpet well past the party’s official start time of 9 p.m., and late arrivers were welcomed with the sound of Cara’s set, the first of the night. The pop singer ran through her breakthrough hit “Here” and more recent favorites including “Scars To Your Beautiful.” She was followed by Uzi, who revved up the crowd with his chart-topper “XO Tour Llif3” and danced his way through his featured verses on Migos’ track “Bad and Boujee.”

Following lengthy periods of time in between each performer’s brisk set, DJ Z-Trip spun through hits old and new, from Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire” to Drake’s latest “God’s Plan” (off his two-song EP Scary Hours that dropped last week) as guests like Jared Leto, Mumford & Son’s Ben Lovett, Ansel Elgort and more mingled in the crowd -- Kim Petras spent her night dancing in a corner with Pentatonix.

Next up: Michaels, who opened with “Pink” before stepping off stage due to technical difficulties. Despite the issues (for lack of a better word), it wasn’t long until she returned, and finished strong with her Clean Bandit feature “I Miss You.” As the clock creeped past midnight, Khalid took to the stage wearing a wide and friendly smile -- despite the late set time, he was filled with energy, and even showed off his flexibility with a split kick during set opener “8TEEN." “This next song changed my life forever,” the R&B breakout said of his career-launching hit “Location.” He then tossed it over to SZA (“One of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever met in my life,” he said of the star) who delivered “Love Galore” and “The Weekend” before retreating backstage -- though short, her bubbly persona and honest delivery were well worth waiting for.

Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Spotify
Khalid performs onstage at 'Spotify's Best New Artist Party' at Skylight Clarkson on Jan. 25, 2018 in New York City. 

The night wouldn't be complete without a cameo -- it is Grammy week, after all, and who isn’t in town -- and the night’s came courtesy of Logic, who breezed through an impassioned performance of the Grammy-nominated “1-800-273-8255” with featured vocals from Khalid, who then closed out the nonstop night with another guest appearance from Marshmello for their collaborative chart-climber "Silence."

The evening ran much like the speed-round of a talent show, granting limited time to the final contestants to prove their worth, which made it all the more compelling of a show, and only fueled the already heated dialogue over who should walk away with the honor of Best New Artist when all is said and done on Sunday night.