There was a time when the Grammy for Best New Artist was a kiss of death, as acts like Starland Vocal Band, Men at Work, Milli Vanilli, Arrested Development, Paula Cole and Shelby Lynne won the award and were then never heard from again. But lately, it has been a pretty good indication of an artist who has enough of what it takes to make it (recent winners include Alicia Keys, Maroon 5, John Legend and the Zac Brown Band). This year's crop of nominees (announced last night during a special live concert event) is particularly strong, as it's a good mix of artists who already have a handful of hits in their pockets (Justin Bieber and Drake), bands with ampersands in their names who have been steadily building a following (Florence & the Machine and Mumford & Sons) and one person you've never heard of (Esperanza Spalding).
Who Should Win
Of all the artists nominated, it feels like this award should go to Florence & the Machine. The group's debut album Lungs is a strange little record that just keeps popping up, and "Dog Days Are Over" is one of the most unusual and refreshing rock songs to pick up mainstream attention in quite a long time. The group seems like they are doing something genuinely new, which is why they deserve this prize. Plus, we still can't stop talking about the band's performance at the 2010 VMAs.
Who Will Win
This category seems custom built for Justin Bieber. After picking up a quartet of American Music Awards and nailing the Best New Artist trophy at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, Bieber will likely be completing the sweep in February.
Who is Esperanza Spalding? She's a 26-year-old jazz bassist who broke through in a big way (in the jazz world, anyway) with her latest album Chamber Music Society. Though she's invisible to the general populace, she's exactly the sort of artist that Grammy voters love rewarding. Plus, she's the only jazz performer among a sea of pop acts, which means that she'll take home all the votes from the more jazz-inclined voters.
Who do you think should win Best New Artist? Let us know in the comments!