Billie Eilish and Lizzo, who were the top two vote-getters for best new artist at MTV’s Video Music Awards in August, are both vying for nominations in that category at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards. Eilish’s eligibility was never in question, but there was a question about Lizzo. She had seemingly released more tracks prior to the start of the current eligibility year than Grammy guidelines allow.
The Grammys’ Category Description Guide plainly states: “The artist must have released, as a featured performing artist, a minimum of five singles/tracks or one album, but not more than thirty singles/tracks or three albums prior to the current eligibility year.”
Lizzo had released two previous albums, two EPs and two collaborative mixtapes prior to the start of the current eligibility year. If you add up all the tracks from those releases, you’re over 30.
What saved Lizzo is what has saved such past best new artist nominees as Meghan Trainor and Maren Morris — the Grammys sometimes don’t count releases on small independent labels on the grounds that they didn’t really allow the artist a fair chance at breaking through. Lizzo’s 2013 debut album, Lizzobangers, was released on Totally Gross National Product. (It was re-released in 2014 on Virgin.) Her 2015 sophomore album, Big Grrrl Small World, was released on BGSW—an acronym for the album title.
The Recording Academy also erred on the side of inclusiveness in allowing such other not-exactly-new artists as Juice WRLD, Lauv and Carly Pearce another shot at a nom in this category. Juice WRLD’s failure to receive any noms last year for his smash “Lucid Dreams” was surprising, but that shutout preserved his eligibility in this category this year. (Once an artist has received a Grammy nom in any category he or she is no longer eligible for a best new artist nom.)
Other potent contenders who are eligible in the best new artist category include Lil Nas X and Rosalía, both of whom were also nominated for best new artist at the VMAs. Rosalía was also nominated for best new artist at the Latin Grammys two years ago. If she winds up with a Grammy nom for best new artist, she would be the first artist to be nominated in that category at both of these Grammy-branded award shows.
Also in the running are four artists who were nominated for best new artist at the BET Awards in June —Blueface, City Girls, Queen Naija and the aforementioned Juice WRLD; five artists who were nominated in new artist categories at the ACM Awards in April — Runaway June, Jimmie Allen, Mitchell Tenpenny, Jordan Davis and the aforementioned Pearce; and two artists who are nominated for new artist of the year at the CMA Awards on Nov. 13 — Pearce and Morgan Wallen.
Other notable contenders for best new artist noms include Badflower, Jade Bird, Blackpink, Bishop Briggs, Blanco Brown, Calboy, Lewis Capaldi, Clairo, Dean Lewis, Lil Tecca, Mabel, Megan Thee Stallion, Maddie Poppe, Maggie Rogers, Bryce Vine, Summer Walker, YBN Cordae, YK Osiris and YNW Melly.
Notable artists who are not eligible for best new artist this year include Ava Max (who was up for best new artist at the VMAs); Lil Baby (who won best new artist at the BET Awards); Lanco, High Valley, Danielle Bradbery, Lindsay Ell and Michael Ray, who were nominated in new artist categories at the ACM Awards in April; and Cody Johnson, Ashley McBryde and Midland (who are up for new artist of the year at the upcoming CMA Awards).