The 2014 Grammy Awards are just days away, and before music’s biggest night, Wetpaint is taking a look at the four major categories and sizing up the competition. Today we’re focusing on one of the strongest categories — Best New Artist.
The nominees for this category include: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kendrick Lamar, Kacey Musgraves, Ed Sheeran, and James Blake. Yes, you’re reading that list correctly, and no, Lorde was not nominated for Best New Artist. But, even without Lorde, this is one of the strongest lineups we’ve seen in recent years.
The odds are certainly in Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s favor. The Seattle rapper and his producing partner were nominated for seven Grammys this year, including all of the major categories. There’s no doubt about it: Macklemore is this year’s biggest success story. The duo’s hit track “Thrift Shop” catapulted them onto the charts, but it’s their lyrical attack on homophobia — with their Grammy-nominated song, “Same Love” — that is getting voters’ attention. Perhaps the only thing stopping Macklemore & Ryan Lewis from snatching up Best New Artist is the genre they find themselves in. The Grammys rarely award hip-hop acts with Best New Artist, but we’re willing to go out on a line and say Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are the safest bets to take home this golden gramophone.
Of course, they’ll face stiff competition from rapper Kendrick Lamar, who is perhaps the most critically acclaimed Best New Artist Nominee. Since the release of his breakthrough album, good kid, m.A.A.d. city, in October 2012, Kendrick has been upstaging practically every rapper in the game with an endless string of guest spots on tracks, including that genre-shaking "Control" verse. His fearless verses could attract attention from voters, but again, rappers are rarely recognized in this category. (Need proof? Last year, pop-rockers fun. took home Best New Artist — beating out industry favorite Frank Ocean.) Kendrick is also nominated for seven Grammys this year, including the coveted Album of the Year, which could give him more klout in this category.
We also can’t count out country crooner Kacey Musgraves. Back in 2007, Carrie Underwood took home the Best New Artist award. Could another powerhouse country female take home the coveted award this year? It’s possible. Kacey’s debut album, Same Trailer Different Park, earned her five Grammy nominations, including Best Country Album and Best Country Song, where she’ll go head-to-head with America’s sweetheart, Taylor Swift. But, being the only female in the Best New Artist could give her an edge. The majority of the winners in the category over the last 15 years have been women. Since there's a history of solo female artists winning this category, Kacey could be this year’s upsetter in the category. Plus, it’s possible Macklemore and Kendrick could cancel each other out.
Then there’s British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, who was surprisingly nominated in the Best New Artist category this year, despite earning a nomination for Song of the Year last year. He’s a strong contender — he has the digital sales and the fanbase to prove it. (And no love to you, James Blake. We’re sure you’re fabulous, though.)
So who will win Best New Artist? Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Again, we’re slightly split on this one: we can see it going to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis or Kacey Musgraves, but we’re giving the edge to Macklemore, the independent artist who sold over 4 million units this year.
But, who should win Best New Artist? Kendrick Lamar. Macklemore sold more units than Kendrick, but when it comes to artistry, the Compton rapper has been changing the rap game with his brutally honest verses — and he’s heads and tails above everyone else because of it.
Who do you think will win Best New Artist? Sound off in the comments with your predictions!
Don't forget to tune in to music's biggest night — aka the 2014 Grammy Awards — on January 26, 2014 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.
Crystal Bell is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident fangirl for all things The Vampire Diaries. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!