- Nominations for the 2022 Grammy Awards were announced on Tuesday.
- This year’s best new artist nominees include well-established acts like Glass Animals and FINNEAS.
- Keep reading for a complete breakdown of the category’s ambiguous eligibility rules.
Best new artist is one of the most prestigious categories at the annual Grammy Awards, as well as arguably the most perplexing.
Despite the literal title, artists don’t actually need to be “new” in order to be nominated. They just need to feel “new” to mainstream audiences.
This is clearly represented by this year’s crop of 10 nominees, announced on Tuesday. They include Glass Animals, who dropped their debut EP nearly 10 years ago; Saweetie, who released her first of four platinum singles in 2017; and Finneas O’Connell, who has already won eight Grammy Awards.
As Billboard previously reported, artists and label executives “have long complained about the ambiguity of the best new artist rules, which have changed several times in the past decade.”
Here’s everything you need to know about the current eligibility requirements.
The rules were recently changed to get rid of a maximum song restriction
In recent years, there was an explicit sweet spot for best new artist consideration.
In order to be eligible, a musician was required to have at least five songs or one album in their catalog — but no more than 30 songs or three albums.
However, in June 2020, the Recording Academy announced that nominees would no longer be held to a “specified maximum number of releases.” In other words, well-established artists with vast catalogs can now be submitted for consideration.
Glass Animals has certainly benefited from this change. The British indie-rock band has released three studio albums, containing more than 40 songs, since 2014. The most recent, “Dreamland,” was released in August 2020, before the eligibility period for the 2022 Grammys began on September 1, 2020.
Indeed, the band was presumably nominated for best new artist this year thanks to “Heat Waves,” the fourth single from “Dreamland.”
The single then burst onto mainstream radars when a slowed-down remix became popular on TikTok this summer, causing the band’s
The Grammy Award for best new artist is intended to honor a ‘breakthrough’ year
According to the current rules, “This category recognizes an artist whose eligibility-year release(s) achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and notably impacted the musical landscape.”
If that sounds subjective, it is.
The Grammys employ an anonymous screening committee that evaluates the list of best new artist submissions, which can include anywhere between 500 to 1,000 names, according to Billboard.
This group has the final say on whether someone is eligible for nomination that year, the rules specify. (Each musician can be submitted for best new artist consideration up to three times.)
As the rules state, “The screening committee will be charged with determining whether the artist had attained a breakthrough or prominence prior to the eligibility year. Such a determination would result in disqualification.”
For example, the screening committee apparently decided that Saweetie was not a household name prior to this eligibility year.
Even though she already had multiple hits under her belt (including 2017’s “Icy Grl,” 2019’s “My Type,” and 2020’s summer anthem “Tap In”), Saweetie reached a new level of fame when she teamed up with Doja Cat in January for the infectious bop “Best Friend.”
Their collaboration was immediately embraced online and peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. It earned Saweetie her first MTV Video Music Award and has since been certified two-times platinum by the RIAA.
The single also helped build hype for Saweetie’s third EP, “Pretty Summer Playlist: Season 1,” which was released in April, as well as her forthcoming debut studio album, “Pretty Bitch Music.”
Artists are ineligible if they’ve already received Grammy recognition as a performer — but not as a producer or songwriter
As Billboard previously reported, several of 2021’s breakout stars were not included on the final list of 463 eligible artists this year, including “Industry Baby” rapper Jack Harlow and “Telepatía” singer Kali Uchis.
These artists were deemed ineligible because they had previously received Grammy nominations as performers. Harlow’s popular single “What’s Poppin” was nominated last year for best rap performance while Uchis was nominated for best R&B performance in 2018 for her feature on Daniel Caesar’s “Get You.” She also won best dance recording in 2021 for her feature on KAYTRANADA’s “10%.”
However, Grammy nominations for behind-the-scenes work are not disqualifying.
O’Connell unveiled his debut solo album “Optimist” shortly after this year’s cutoff, but he did release several buzzy singles within the eligibility period, including one of 2020’s best songs, “Can’t Wait to Be Dead.”
He was also featured on Ashe’s acclaimed single “Till Forever Falls Apart” in March 2021, which reached the top 20 on Billboard’s Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart.
The 64th annual Grammy Awards will broadcast live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on January 31, 2022.