Each year, the Recording Academy names a handful of musicians with a Best New Artist Grammy nomination and on Monday, five upstarts were given the honor: Australian rocker Courtney Barnett, singer-songwriter James Bay, country star Sam Hunt, pop singer Tori Kelly, and “All About That Bass” singer Meghan Trainor.
Historically, the Academy has given the award to some artists who’ve been relegated to the Where Are They Now bin: Starland Vocal Band (who won in 1977 for “Afternoon Delight”), Men at Work (who scored in 1983 for “Land Down Under”), and Christopher Cross (who recorded the yacht-rock staple “Sailing”) are just a few. But the Academy has also awarded legitimate phenomenons: Amy Winehouse, Sam Smith, Adele, Carrie Underwood, and John Legend have all won the award in recent years.
So which five are up for this year’s honor at the 58th annual Grammys—and hoping to avoid the Best New Artist curse? Get to know a little bit more about them below.
The Australian singer-songwriter is one of the funniest, whip-smart new musicians of the year, thanks to her head-banging debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit and Ponder and breakout performances at this year’s SXSW. Not only is her LP one of the best rock albums of 2015—it’s one of the best of the year period.
The British singer-songwriter had one of the biggest U.K. debut albums of the year with Chaos and the Calm. He’s also collaborated with some of music’s heavy hitters—he’s opened for the Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift—in addition to having a memorable performance at U.K.’s legendary Glastonbury festival, performing for nearly 70,000. “It was overwhelming,” he told EW earlier this month. “[And] my U.K. and Ireland tour we just finished; the whole thing was a highlight really. Being able to bring out special guests, to hear about their journeys and compare notes. Whether it’s Ronnie Wood who’s 50 years into it or Ed Sheeran who’s five or so years into it, they’re both heroes in different ways.”
With his debut album Montevallo and a string of platinum-selling singles (including his latest, “Breakup in a Small Town”), Hunt is one of the hottest stars to emerge out of Nashville this year. He’s showing no signs of slowing: Hunt told EW in October that he’s already begun work on his next album. “There will be songs that will be great to listen to in the car by yourself, songs that will be perfect for a party with your friends, or a live show.”
You know you’ve got musical bonafides when you get an endorsement from Prince. Earlier this year, the icon told EW about why Kelly is one of his favorite new artists. “She’ll make it because she does the work,” Prince said of the “Nobody Love” singer, who had a standout performance at this year’s Billboard music awards. “They’ve got her out there on the road playing, really learning.”
Surely, you’ve heard of Meghan Trainor thanks to her massive 2014 single “All About That Bass,” but her profile kept rising in 2015, whether it was through her new track for The Peanuts Movie or her on-stage make-out with “Marvin Gaye” collaborator Charlie Puth at this year’s AMAs.