Grammys 2013 Predictions: Best New Artist

Paul Grein
Stop The Presses!

Frank Ocean and Gotye are all but certain to receive Grammy nominations for Best New Artist. One Direction and fun. are also likely to make the cut. After that, expect a brawl for the fifth slot involving Carly Rae Jepsen, The Lumineers and Emeli Sande, among others.

The Grammy nominations will be announced on a live TV special on Dec. 5. LL Cool J and Taylor Swift are set to co-host the one-hour show. The awards will be presented on Feb. 10.

Ocean, 25, drew praise and support for revealing that his first love was a man. Such disclosures are still rare in the worlds of hip-hop and urban contemporary. Ocean’s Channel Orange, which debuted and peaked at #2 on The Billboard 200 in July, is expected to receive a nomination for Album of the Year. It’s also a lock to win for Best Urban Contemporary Album. Ocean would be only the second African American male solo artist to win Best New Artist, following John Legend.

Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” (featuring Kimbra) is year’s best-selling song and also the front-runner to win Record of the Year. Gotye, 32, wrote and produced the smash, which topped the Hot 100 for eight weeks. Gotye was born in Belgium and raised in Australia. His Making Mirrors is the front-runner to win for Best Alternative Music Album. If he were to win Best New Artist, this would mark the second year in a row that an alternative artist took the award. Bon Iver won last year.

One Direction is the hottest boy band since the heyday of *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys more than a decade ago. The British/Irish quintet’s album Up All Night debuted at #1 in March. Its follow-up album, Take Me Home, is expected to also debut at #1. Two earlier boy bands, Backstreet Boys and Jonas Brothers, were nominated for Best New Artist. (Neither won.)

fun. has had back-to-back smash hits with “We Are Young” (featuring Janelle Monae) and “Some Nights.” The New York trio also has a hit album with Some Nights, which is vying for a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album.

Carly Rae Jepsen is this year’s big question mark. Her mega-hit “Call Me Maybe” is the year’s second biggest hit and is also a likely Record of the Year finalist. The fizzy smash proves that the 26-year old Canadian can make a classic teen pop record, but the panel of Grammy insiders that determines the nominations in the top four categories may not be convinced that she has what it takes to go the distance.

If Jepsen (or any of these other front-runners) falters, there are many standbys waiting in the wings. A total of 405 new artists were entered in this year’s competition (so when they say “it’s an honor just to be nominated,” it really is.)

The Lumineers, a trio whose eponymous debut album has been a sleeper hit, is a key candidate. The album will probably be nominated for Best Americana Album. The album has spawned the top 20 hit “Ho Hey.”

Though Emeli Sande, 25, has achieved just modest success in the U.S., the panel may want to give a boost to a quality act that could use the exposure. Two years ago, the panel lifted jazz singer Esperanza Spalding to a nomination. (She wound up winning the award in the final round of voting, when the selection is made by rank-and-file voting members.) Sande’s Our Version Of Events is vying for a nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album.

Other artists that are in the hunt for a nomination as Best New Artist include rapper Tyga; urban contemporary star Miguel; Ellie Goulding, an English singer whose “Lights” was a #2 pop smash; Lana Del Rey, whose Saturday Night Live appearance was hotly debated; English pop artist Ed Sheeran; Americana music group Alabama Shakes and Icelandic rock group Of Monsters And Men.

The country brigade includes Hunter Hayes, who was named New Artist of the Year at the recent Country Music Assn. Awards; American Idol winner Scotty McCreery, Brantley Gilbert, Kip Moore and the duo Love And Theft.

McCreery faces an uphill climb. After all this time, just one singer who rose to fame on American Idol has received a Best New Artist nomination. That’s Carrie Underwood, who won the award for 2006.

Three alternative music acts (besides Gotye) are contenders: England’s The xx, Santigold and the oddly-named Swedish trio Miike Snow.

Some acts whose albums were released prior to this year’s eligibility period (which runs from Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012) were allowed to compete, a reflection of the Recording Academy’s rules that give building acts an extended window to break through. Five artists whose breakthrough albums were released in the previous eligibility year are credible contenders: Ellie Goulding, Christina Perri, Jessie J, Andy Grammer and Santigold. Country singer and songwriter Brantley Gilbert has been building even longer. His Halfway To Heaven was released in 2010.

Other artists, not already named in this report, that have a reasonable chance of snaring a nomination include rapper Mac Miller and pop acts The Wanted, Imagine Dragons, Alex Clare, Kimbra, Hot Chelle Rae, Karmin, Dev and Cher Lloyd.