“I’m aware that my music wasn't released yesterday,” Alessia Cara wrote on Instagram in February. She had just been crowned best new artist, and on the surface, the award made perfect sense: The singer-songwriter was one of pop’s most prominent breakout performers in 2017, thanks to her monster hit with Zedd, “Stay,” and a feature on Logic’s “1-800-273-8255.”
And yet, Cara wrote the post as a defense against the Grammy watchers who attacked her on social media, lamenting her win over acclaimed young singers like SZA and Khalid, and insisting Cara wasn't exactly a new artist. Her debut, Know-It-All, came out in 2015.
Meanwhile, this year, Post Malone looked like a shoo-in for the best new artist pool -- but is reportedly ineligible, due to the success of his 2016 debut Stoney and 2015 hits “Congratulations” and “White Iverson.” So where does he differ from Cara? As Cara also pointed out, her music had “become fairly popular in the last year.” And there she began to scratch the surface of the rules governing the Grammys’ perhaps most complexly regulated award.