In 2017, Chance the Rapper walked up on the Grammy stage to accept his ‘Best New Artist’ award despite the fact that he had previously released three full length albums, and in fact, had the number three emblazoned on his hat to signify just that.
In 2019, Lizzo was nominated for the same award even though she had been making hits for two years.
If you get the jist of what we are saying here, the artists winning Grammy’s Best New Artist award aren’t exactly new. Well, the Grammy foundation has acknowledged that, but they say this is the way things are and they aren’t about to change any time soon.
The organization recently released a statement outlining some changes that were going to be made to the award requirements. The Academy’s lexicon announced “urban” gets replaced with “progressive,” “Best Rap/Sung Performance” is now “Best Melodic Rap Performance.”
The organization also adjusted its ruling on what constitutes a new artist. At the upcoming 63rd Grammy Awards, the “Best New Artist” category will no longer be held to a “specified maximum number of releases. Instead, screening committees will determine whether the artist had attained a breakthrough or prominence prior to the eligibility year.”
The requirements regarding ‘Best New Artist’ have been under review for the past decade. Changes were initiated when it was determined that Lady Gaga was ineligible for a best new artist award in 2010 because she had been nominated for Best Dance Recording in 2009.
As a result, the academy updated the rules stating “By current rules, if the other artist’s album or the new artist’s single receives a nomination, the new artist may never have the opportunity to compete in the best new artist category. With this change, each artist will have at least one opportunity to enter in this important and highly visible category.”
In 2016, the rules changed again. The Academy made these updates “to remove the album barrier given current trends in how new music and developing artists are released and promoted.” Now the eligibility requirements mean that new artists “must have released a minimum of five singles/tracks or one album, but no more than 30 singles/tracks or three albums.”
As a result of these updates, Chance the Rapper and Dua Lipa were able to take home Best New Artist trophies despite having released multiple bodies of work throughout their careers.
It may just be that the Grammy’s are moving rules around to suit their fancy perhaps given a lack of new talent to choose from. In any case, when requirements keep changing, it certainly makes it difficult for fans to keep up.