For the Grammys, Best New Artist is one of the “Big Four” categories, often of the greatest importance for artists and for viewers. This year, the category’s nominees include country breakout artists Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris, hip-hop sensations Chance the Rapper and Anderson .Paak, and EDM chart-busters The Chainsmokers.
While winning the award is an honor, it also isn’t necessarily indicative of the future success of those artists nominated — for either the winner or those who lose.
According to data exclusively provided to Billboard from YouTube, many of the artists who don’t take home the Grammy still go on to be extremely successful and garner large numbers of channel views. Looking over the last five years of Best New Artist nominees, only three out of the 10 most-viewed artists from this category actually won. (Their names are in red in the graphic below.)
To put this into perspective, at the 2014 Grammys, Ed Sheeran was one of the nominees who lost to Macklemore for Best New Artist — however, Macklemore holds 436 million views on YouTube while Sheeran has more than double that with 1054 million views.
This lack of clear-cut correlation even moves past YouTube views, and into Billboard success as well. Reliable pop hit-makers Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber didn’t win the Grammy for Best New Artist in the years they were nominated, and they’ve each subsequently been responsible for dozens of hits on the Hot 100 — while Amy Winehouse and Esperanza Spalding, the two artists that beat Swift and Bieber for the honors (also respectively), have combined for just two.
Looking forward to this Sunday’s (Feb. 12) 2017 Grammys, using YouTube views in 2016 as a predictor, dance duo The Chainsmokers would have to be considered the clear frontrunner. The Chainsmokers hold 2.49 billion views, more than all of their fellow nominees combined — and beyond views, they hold seven Hot 100 hits (including the 12-week No. 1 hit “Closer”) while the others hold between one and three.
Yet, this is hardly an undeniable determination of who will win. Both Morris and Ballerini stole made strong impressions on the country scene in 2016, while Chance and Paak’s albums were both received to critical acclaim — both making Billboard’s Best Albums of 2016. As always, we’ll just have to wait until Grammy night to find out.