Roddy Ricch has a good chance of landing Grammy nominations for both record and album of the year. His smash “The Box” headed the Billboard Hot 100 for 11 weeks, longer than any other single this year. His album Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial led the Billboard 200 for four weeks. But you can scratch Ricch off your list of likely Grammy candidates for best new artist. He won a Grammy last year (best rap performance for his featured role on Nipsey Hussle‘s “Racks in the Middle”), which makes him ineligible.
Several other artists who might have had a good shot at best new artist nods are also probably going to be ruled ineligible when the Grammy Screening Committee meets (either in-person or by Zoom) this fall. Megan Thee Stallion had released more than 30 tracks, the maximum number allowed, prior to the start of the current eligibility year (Sept. 1, 2019). DaBaby received two nominations last year, the year his debut album, Baby on Baby, was released and was eligible. The Highwomen and The Scotts aren’t eligible because they consist of past winners or nominees.
Fortunately, quite a few artists remain in play. Here are the eight artists who seem to have the best chance of being nominated, followed by 10 top alternates. At the bottom, we share with you the official category description from last year’s Grammys. (Warning: It’s not a breezy beach read, to say the least.)
The likely nominees:
Summer Walker: The R&B singer’s debut album Over It reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200. Collabs with Drake (a 2010 best new artist nominee), Bryson Tiller and Usher were major Hot 100 hits. Walker won best new artist at the Soul Train Music Awards in November.
Tones and I: The Australian singer’s “Dance Monkey” reached No. 4 on the Hot 100 (and No. 1 in many territories around the world). Her debut EP, The Kids Are Coming, hit No. 30 on the Billboard 200.
Ingrid Andress: The country singer’s debut single, “More Hearts Than Mine,” reached No. 30 on the Hot 100. Andress’ debut album Lady Like reached No. 90 on the Billboard 200. Andress is nominated for new female artist of the year at the upcoming ACM Awards.
Gabby Barrett: The country singer’s “I Hope” reached No. 16 on the Hot 100. Her debut album, Goldmine, is due June 19. Barrett, who finished third on Season 16 of American Idol, is also nominated for new female artist of the year at the upcoming ACM Awards.
Rex Orange County: The English musician’s third album, Pony, reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200. His first two albums were self-released.
Conan Gray: The social media star’s first studio album, Kid Krow, reached No. 5 on the Billboard 200. Gray’s favorite artist, Taylor Swift (a 2007 best new artist nominee), has touted his album on her Instagram.
Arizona Zervas: “Roxanne” (featuring Swae Lee) reached No. 4 on the Hot 100. The only potential hitch is that Zervas needs to release at least five tracks in this eligibility year to qualify. By my count, he’s up to three.
Here are 10 strong alternates:
Polo G: The rapper’s sophomore album, The Goat, enters the Billboard 200 at No. 2 this week. “Flex” (featuring Juice WRLD) enters the Ho 100 at No. 30 this week. Pop Out” from his previous album, Die a Legend, reached No. 26 on the Hot 100 last year.
NLE Choppa: The 17-year old rapper has reached the top 40 on the Hot 100 with “Shotta Flow” and “Camelot.” His debut album, Top Shotta, is upcoming.
Surfaces: The Texas electro-pop duo’s “Sunday Best” jumps to No. 26 on this week’s Hot 100. Their second album, Where the Light Is, reached No. 112 on the Billboard 200.
SuperM: The K-Pop group’s SuperM EP reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200. They would be the first K-Pop group to be nominated in this category.
beabadoobee: The Filipino-British singer/songwriter, who turns 20 on June 3, is featured on Powfu’s “Death Bed” (Coffee For Your Head),” which reached No. 26 on the Hot 100. In addition, she has toured and performed with The 1975. That could give her an edge over the Canadian Powfu, even though he’s the lead artist on this hit.
Lil Mosey: The 18-year old rapper’s second album, Certified Hitmaker, reached No. 12 on the Billboard 200. “Blueberry Faygo,” which samples Johnny Gill‘s 1990 hit “My, My, My,” reached No. 16 on the Hot 100.
Saweetie: The rapper’s 2019 single “My Type,” reached No. 21 on the Hot 100.
SHAED: The pop trio’s 2018 single “Trampoline” reached No. 13 on the Hot 100 in 2019.
Trevor Daniel: The singer/songwriter’s single “Falling” jumps to No. 21 on this week’s Hot 100. His debut album, Nicotine, reached No. 79 on the Billboard 200.
Benee: The 20-year old New Zealand singer’s delightful “Supalonely” (featuring Gus Dapperton) has reached No. 39 on the Hot 100.
And now, as promised, here’s the official category description guide from last year’s Grammys. The Academy may tinker with the definition for the upcoming awards year.
“An artist will be considered for best new artist if their eligibility year release(s) achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and notably impacted the musical landscape.
“Note: The artist must have released, as a featured performing artist, [a] minimum of five singles/tracks or one album, but not more than 30 singles/tracks or three albums, prior to the current eligibility year. An artist may not enter into this category more than three times, including as a performing member of an established group.
“Any artist with a previous Grammy nomination as a performer precludes eligibility in the best new artist category (including a nomination as an established member of a nominated group.) An artist with a previous songwriting Grammy nomination is not eligible, if the nominated song had gained its prominence through a performance by the songwriter as the primary artist. Exceptions: If an artist is nominated (but does not win) for the release of a single or as a featured artist or collaborator on a compilation or another artist’s album – or if an artist received a nomination (but does not win) for writing a song that had gained its prominence through a performance by the songwriting as the primary artist—before the artist has released at least five singles or an entire album (and becomes eligible in this category for the first time), the artist may enter this category in the eligibility year during which the artist’s fifth single/track or first album is released.
“Choirs, choruses and large band ensembles are not eligible.
“Additional exclusions apply.”
There. All clear now?