On Thursday (Jan. 23), three nights before the annual Grammy awards, all eight best new artist nominees delivered stadium-level performances to a much more intimate crowd at Spotify’s Best New Artist party at West Hollywood’s The Lot Studios.
Sure, there was In-N-Out being passed out on trays and a Milk Bar dessert cart, but every artist commanded undivided attention from the room of mostly industry insiders and fellow artists like Lewis Capaldi and Lauren Jauregui.
It helped, of course, that some of the nominees surprised the crowd with special guests — Lil Nas X welcomed Billy Ray Cyrus to the stage for “Old Town Road” and Rosalia brought out her pal Ozuna for “Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi.” And Billie Eilish performed with her brother and collaborator Finneas, who accompanied her on piano and acoustic guitar for the night’s most stripped-down set.
While onstage, Eilish gave her self-directed music video for “Everything I Wanted” — which had dropped earlier in the day — a shout-out, and later leveled with herself, saying of her head-to-toe neon yellow outfit: “I came out here like I was too cool and now I feel so fake … that ain’t me. I look extra as f–k, this outfit is stupid.”
Eilish performed older material like “Idontwannabeyouanymore” and her breakout hit “Ocean Eyes” alongside newer hits like a hushed version of “Bad Guy,” which could have been a way of reminding people she’s not entirely new. But, she’s still thrilled to be nominated nonetheless, saying: “Grammys are on Sunday… this s–t is crazy.”
Earlier in the night, Lizzo opened the show, setting a high bar to follow. But even the lesser known acts on the lineup, like country soul singer Yola, Austin-based funk and soul duo Black Pumas and New Orleans group Tank and the Bangas, stunned the crowd, making an undeniable case for their place in the Big Four category — and perhaps even leading some to consider the possibility of a surprise underdog win come Sunday night.
Elsewhere, Maggie Rogers turned the space into a pop-rock arena show, singing hits off her acclaimed Heard It In a Past Life — for which she recently celebrated the one year anniversary of — including “Give a Little,” ”The Knife” and “Fallingwater.” Soon after, Rosalia similarly came equipped to deliver a headline-worthy show complete with a crew of backup dancers, fans for added drama and a close friend in Ozuna. The two performed together before Rosalia closed her set with “Malamente” featuring precision choreography.
She wasn’t the only one who brought a guest onstage, as Lil Nas X had also surprised the packed room by welcoming Billy Ray Cyrus to perform their record-breaking Hot 100 No. 1, “Old Town Road.” Ron Perry, chairman & ceo of Columbia Records — who famously signed Lil Nas X to the label after DMing him — proudly looked on. Said Cyrus of the rising artist: “That’s a game-changer right there.”