Polo G is eligible for a 2022 Grammy nomination for best new artist, vying for one of the eight nomination slots against such front-runners as Olivia Rodrigo, The Kid LAROI, Gabby Barrett, Saweetie, BLACKPINK and Måneskin.
The best new artist eligibility for Polo G, whose Hall of Fame entered the Billboard 200 at No. 1 in June, was not considered a sure thing. His two previous albums, Die a Legend and The Goat, had also made the top 10 on the Billboard 200. But the Grammy screening committee, which makes the final determination in such matters, decided that his continued growth in this eligibility year (Sept. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021) met the category’s key benchmark for eligibility: “This category recognizes an artist whose eligibility-year release(s) achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and notably impacted the musical landscape.”
The committee further decided that his previous two albums did not achieve such prominence as to render him ineligible. The rules state “The screening committee will be charged with determining whether the artist had attained a breakthrough or prominence prior to the eligibility year. Such a determination would result in disqualification.”
Polo G wasn’t the only rapper who’s been building for a few years to be ruled eligible. Youngboy Never Broke Again and Moneybagg Yo, both of whom released their first albums in 2018, are also on the list of 463 artists who are eligible for best new artist at the 64th annual Grammy Awards. First-round voting opened Friday (Oct. 22) and ends Nov. 5.
Some pop artists who have been building for a while are also eligible. Ava Max, whose “Sweet but Psycho” made the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 2019, is eligible, as is Surfaces, whose “Sunday Best” was first released in 2019, though it only became a hit in 2020.
Morgan Wallen — whose sophomore album, Dangerous: The Double Album, topped the Billboard 200 for 10 weeks but who became mired in controversy over his use of the N-word — is not on the eligibility list. While the controversy surely didn’t help his case here, the committee may have simply decided his prominence prior to this eligibility year was too great: His “Whiskey Glasses” topped the 2019 Country Airplay Songs year-end tally, and “Chasin’ You” claimed the top spot in 2020.
Other notable artists who are missing from the list include Bo Burnham (who was vying to become the first comedian to receive a best new artist nod since Robin Williams 42 years ago), 24kGoldn, Flo Milli, Don Toliver, Clairo, Conan Gray and Snoh Aalegra.
Several buzzy, new-ish artists were not eligible to compete for best new artist this year because they have received previous Grammy nominations as performers. These include GIVĒON, Jack Harlow, Mickey Guyton and Kali Uchis.
The eligibility list includes numerous artists who have been nominated in equivalent categories at other awards shows, including Jimmie Allen and HARDY, who like Gabby Barrett, are new artist of the year contenders at the upcoming CMA Awards; Coi Leray, Latto and Pooh Shiesty, who were nominated for best new artist at the 2021 BET Awards; Yung Bleu (who won) and Blxst, Leray and Morray, who were all nominated for, best new hip hop artist at the BET Hip Hop Awards; and Arlo Parks (who won) and Celeste, who was nominated for, breakthrough artist at the Brit Awards.
Other buzzy artists who are on the eligibility list include Tate McRae, Walker Hayes, Glass Animals, Anitta, Ashe, Baby Keem, Madison Beer, Rina Sawayama, Julien Baker, Girl in Red, Breland, 42 Dugg, G Herbo, Japanese Breakfast, Jxdn, LANY, Duncan Laurence, Kiana Ledé, Lil Tecca, Masked Wolf, Niko Moon, NLE Choppa, Queen Naija, Pa Salieu, Elvie Shane, Tai Verdes and Rod Wave.
Finneas, the brother of the 2019 winner Billie Eilish, and Ryan Hurd, the husband of 2016 nominee Maren Morris, are both on this year’s entry list. Finneas has won eight Grammys for his work with Eilish but not as a performer. Per the Grammy rules: “Not eligible: Any artist with a previous Grammy nomination as a performer.”
This year’s 463 eligible best new artist contenders is the most in eight years. There were 670 eligible artists in 2013 — the most in the history of the category. There have been just three other years in which there were 450 or more eligible artists: 1997-99.
It’s striking that the number of best new artist contenders rose this year, because the number of contenders in the three other Big Four categories dropped. There are 1,172 eligible record of the year candidates (down from 1,463 last year); 1,163 song of the year candidates (down from 1,443); and 837 album of the year contenders (down from 1,225).
The nominations for the 64th annual Grammy Awards will be announced Nov. 23. Final-round voting runs from Dec. 6 to Jan. 5. The awards will be presented at Staples Center on Jan. 31, 2022.