Does winning Best New Artist at the Grammys mean much? You decide for yourself.

Taking home the Grammy award for Best New Artist has long been the desired accolade for fresh musicians who have yet to have fully established themselves in the industry. But does winning the trophy truly measure the success or relevancy one has claimed as a new artist?

Not necessarily.

The curse of winning Best New Artist has long been speculated, as those who win usually dwindle down in terms of future success and importance in culture. On the other hand, those who lose tend to flourish in their careers and gain more popularity don’t take home the award. For example, in 2010, Esperanza Spalding beat out Justin Bieber for the award, but she has not been of much interest to the public since. Yet, Justin Bieber has produced more albums that have garnished critical acclaim and has remained an important pop culture icon, whether he is releasing new music or not. While this category is associated with superstition, it should definitely be brought up that numerous artists who have won are legends. 


Let’s take a walk down memory lane and look at past Best New Artists winners...


Mariah Carey

One of the best vocalists of all time, won in 1991 (oh 90s, how great you were) and broke numerous records including: 18 #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 (most by any solo artist), over 200 million records sold, and one of the most awarded female vocalists. Let’s also not forget “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” which gets radio play even in the summer.


Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

This duo set out to make a change in hip-hop, but stirred up a lot of controversy on the way. At the 2014 Grammys, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were competing against names such as Kendrick Lamar and Ed Sheeran. And unfortunately for them, it’s those artists who didn’t win whose names are still influential in music today. Despite the massive success of their debut album, The Heist, and appraisal for their second album, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made, the pair has been on hiatus since 2017. Downtown and Can’t Hold Us are still bops though.


While you may not know where she is or what she’s doing, you’re wondering when she’s going to drop a new album. Adele is undoubtedly one of the greatest vocalists of this generation and is one of the last few artists to have an album certified diamond. Following the award, she has released two critically-acclaimed albums, two world tours, and one controversial win against Beyoncé for Album of the Year at the 2017 Grammys.



Remember them? “We are Young” and “Some Nights” were on repeat on your iPod during middle school. This eclectic group beat out Frank Ocean for Best New Artist in 2013 and you’re still upset. Fun. has been on hiatus since 2015 and aren’t making much waves within the music industry.


While it’s notable that these artists are widely different in terms of artistry and sound, they were who the Grammys thought “successfully” exemplified the definition of “New Artist” that year. I can understand the reasoning behind the superstition, but I don’t believe winning automatically puts you in a bind. While I know the category is called “Best New Artist” for a reason, many of them won earlier than the development of their own sound and before having much knowledge of the industry’s pitfalls. Furthermore, it’s speculated that many past winners develop egos that can kill their career quickly if they let it.

Regardless of what you think of the category, you can’t deny that the title of “Best New Artist” won’t always prove itself right in the long run of an artist’s career.

By Desjah Altvater