Historically, female artists have an edge in this category. Twenty-seven female solo artists have won best new artist, compared to 12 male solo artists.
When the nominations for the 62nd annual Grammy Awards are announced on Nov. 20, Billie Eilish is likely to be in the running in each of the Big Four categories (album, record and song of the year, plus best new artist). She would be the first artist to be nominated in all four of these categories since Sam Smith five years ago. She would be the first female artist to be nominated in all four categories since Amy Winehouse 12 years ago.
At the risk of getting ahead of ourselves, Eilish may very well wind up winning in all four categories when the Grammys are presented at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Jan 26, 2020. That has happened only once in Grammy history, when Christopher Cross swept the 1980 awards.
Eilish is just 17. (She'll turn 18 on Dec. 18.) That would make her the youngest nominee for best new artist since Justin Bieber, who was 16 when he was a 2010 nominee. Eilish is vying to become the youngest winner in this category since LeAnn Rimes, who was just 14 when she took home the 1996 award.
Eilish was already nominated for best new artist at the upcoming Video Music Awards. Eilish's debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, has logged three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Her smash single "Bad Guy" has spent seven weeks at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, stuck firmly behind the cultural phenomenon of Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road."
This will likely be the third year in a row that female artists dominate the Grammy nominations for best new artist. Two years ago, female solo artists took three of the five slots. Last year, female solo artists and one all-female duo (Chloe x Halle) took six of the eight slots. Historically, female artists have an edge in this category. Twenty-seven female solo artists have won best new artist, compared to 12 male solo artists.
The Academy has tweaked the rules governing this category many times over the years. The current rules state: "An artist will be considered for best new artist if their eligibility year release(s) achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and notably impacted the musical landscape."
Some specific rules: Artists must have released a minimum of five singles/tracks or one album. (That will probably knock out Ava Max, who has released just four singles as a lead artist.) And they cannot have released more than 30 singles/tracks or three albums prior to the current eligibility year. Also, a previous Grammy nom as a performer precludes eligibility in the best new artist category.
This year's eligibility period extends from Oct. 1, 2018, to Aug. 31, 2019. But the Academy has shown some flexibility in this category, allowing artists to compete even if their breakthrough recordings were released prior to the start of the eligibility year. Alessia Cara won best new artist for 2017 even though she had a top five hit on the Hot 100, "Here," in February 2016. That err-on-the-side-of-the-artist approach may work in favor of such artists as Morgan Wallen, Lil Baby and Juice WRLD.
Here are the seven artists who appear to have the best chance of squaring off against Eilish for best new artist.
The singer/rapper, whose lighthearted "Truth Hurts" has cracked the top five on the Hot 100, has an excellent chance. Her message of body positivity is one that the Academy will want to endorse. Lizzo's third album, Cuz I Love You, reached No. 6 on the Billboard 200. Lizzo had released more than 30 tracks prior to this eligibility year, but the Academy may decide they didn't all have national distribution. That's a loophole that allows them to put worthy artists in who might otherwise be forced out. Lizzo is up for best new artist at the VMAs.
Megan Thee Stallion
The female rapper's first mixtape, Fever, reached No. 10 on the Billboard 200. A track from the album, "Cash Shit" (featuring DaBaby), is up to No. 51 on the current Hot 100.
Rogers' debut album, Heard It in a Past Life, reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200. "Light On" spent three weeks at No. 1 on Adult Alternative Songs.
The Scottish singer's breakthrough single, "Someone Like You," cracks the top 20 on the Hot 100 this week. His debut album, the oddly titled Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent, is up to No. 48 on the current Billboard 200. The album has topped the Official U.K. Album Chart for six weeks so far this year, longer than any other album.
Lil Nas X
The rapper's "Old Town Road" has set a new record for most weeks at No. 1 in the 61-year history of the Hot 100. (Perhaps you heard.) His EP, 7, reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200. He's up for best new artist at the VMAs. Grammy tri: Billy Ray Cyrus, who is featured on the "Old Town Road" remix, was a 1992 Grammy nominee for best new artist. He lost to Arrested Development, the first hip-hop act to win in this category. Now Cyrus is backing a hip-hop act. The message: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
The Latin music star's second studio album, El mal querer, hit No. 1 on Latin Pop Albums in November 2018. Rosalía, who was born in Spain, was nominated for five Latin Grammys last year, including record of the year for "Malamente." She's up for best new artist at the VMAs.
"Whiskey Glasses" had multiple weeks at No. 1 on both Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay. Wallen's first studio album, If I Know Me, was released in April 2018. It has reached No. 35 on the Billboard 200. This would be the second year in a row a country male artist has made the finals. Luke Combs was nominated last year.
Here are 21 other artists who are competing for those eight slots.
The English singer's eponymous debut album has gotten strong reviews (though it has yet to crack the Billboard 200). "Lottery" spent three weeks at No. 1 on Adult Alternative Songs in April and May 2018.
The rapper's debut studio album, Harder than Ever, reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200. It was released in May 2018. Two subsequent mixtapes cracked the top five. Lil Baby has also had two top 10 singles on the Hot 100, "Yes Indeed" (with Drake) and "Drip Too Hard" (with Gunna). Lil Baby won best new artist at the BET Awards.
The rapper/singer's debut album, Goodbye & Good Riddance, reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200. It was released in May 2018. His follow-up, Death Race for Love, spent its first two weeks at No. 1 on that chart in March. Juice WRLD was nominated for best new artist at the BET Awards.
Bad Habits, the second studio album by the Canadian rapper/musician, hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in April. His first album, Reckless, was released in May 2018.
The female rap duo's debut studio album, Girl Code, reached No. 55 on the Billboard 200. Two singles from the album, "Twerk" (featuring Cardi B) and "Act Up," have reached the top 30 on the Hot 100. City Girls were nominated for best new artist at the BET Awards. This would be the second year in a row that a female duo has been nominated in the category. Chloe x Halle were up for the award last year.
The rapper's "My Type" is up to No. 37 on this week's Hot 100. She has released two EPs.
A Place We Knew, the debut album by the Aussie singer/songwriter, hit No. 31 on the Billboard 200. "Be Alright" reached No. 23 on the Hot 100.
The rapper's first studio album, Baby on Baby, reached No. 7 on the Billboard 200. His single "Suge" hit No. 7 on the Hot 100.
The rapper has released 11 singles, including "Thotiana," which hit No. 8 on the Hot 100. He has yet to release an album or mixtape. Blueface was nominated for best new artist at the BET Awards.
The rapper's first studio album, Die a Legend, reached No. 6 on the Billboard 200. The single "Pop Out" (featuring Lil Tjay) reached No. 11 on the Hot 100.
The Florida-based R&B singer's "Worth It" has climbed to No. 52 on the Hot 100.
The singer/songwriter's debut EP, Queen Naija, reached No. 26 on the Billboard 200. It was released in July 2018. She was nominated for best new artist at the BET Awards.
The indie pop band's debut album, Finding It Hard to Smile, reached No. 168 on the Billboard 200. It was released in August 2018. "Broken" hit No. 29 on the Hot 100.
The country/rap singer's first single, "The Git Up," has logged three weeks at No. 1 on Hot Country Songs.
The singer/rapper's first studio album, Carnival, was released July 26. It features his Hot 100 hits "Drew Barrymore" and "La La Land" (featuring YG).
The rapper's debut, Drip or Drown 2, reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200.
Ballads 1, the first studio album by the Japanese singer/rapper, reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200.
The rapper's first studio album, I Am You, reached No. 20 on the Billboard 200. It was released in August 2018.
The rapper has released eight singles, including "Ran$om," which jumps to No. 19 on this week's Hot 100.
The rock group's first studio album, OK, I'm Sick, reached No. 140 on the Billboard 200. "Ghost" and "Heroin" were both big hits on Mainstream Rock.