The Recording Academy, aka the voting body responsible for the Grammy Awards, has been vocal this past year about the internal work of growth and change. They are trying to put on a new face — one that’s more inclusive, one that is more equitable, and one with more voices in the room. They did away with nomination committees, an antiquated system that filtered final say for nominations.
With that in mind, many expected the 2022 Grammy Nominations to look a bit different — or at least a little different from past years. At the end of the day, though, the more some things change, the more they stay the same. The Grammys seem to be one of those things, but their Best New Artist category is especially confusing.
Best New Artist is, consistently, a pretty baffling category. Maybe the best way to summarize it is by reminding the Recording Academy that just because an artist is new to them, they might not be new to all — and, in fact, there’s a strong chance an artist or act has been grinding away for years. Glass Animals have been together for more than a decade; Japanese Breakfast is beloved as both a performer and a writer. FINNEAS already has eight trophies himself. Who exactly is he new to here?
Sure, there are rules in place for this category. To be eligible, the artist or act must have released a minimum of five songs or one album, may not have submitted for the category more than three times, and must have “achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness during the eligibility period.” It’s that third qualifier where things seem to get dicey — how exactly can that kind of requirement be quantified or measured?
Until 2020, there was also a maximum for artists who have released 30 songs or three albums, but this limit was removed for the 2021 awards season, making things even more confusing. It’s hard not to think of Alessia Cara winning this category after already becoming a fixture in the mainstream pop world.
Maybe it’s time to remove the category altogether — or maybe it’s time to stop giving so much weight to this one show entirely. There are so many ways to consume and love music, and while the Grammys are clearly trying to grow and evolve, this category is proof that they might always be too behind the times to catch up.
Best New Artist nominees:
The Kid LAROI