The Grammy Award for Best New Artist, like all the other Grammys, is decided by a vote of music industry professionals. They often have made the wrong choice, in that the winner faded into obscurity while the runners-up have become music superstars. Grammy voters can’t predict the future of course, but if they could have, these acts probably would have been named Best New Artist.
The pop-rock band fun. (that’s how it’s spelled—”fun.”) won the award based on huge hits like “We Are Young” and “Some Nights.” That’s a stable pick by Grammy voters…except that fun. split up very soon after they won the award. Fellow nominees Alabama Shakes and Frank Ocean went on to keep making critically acclaimed music.
Taylor Swift is probably the biggest star in music today, selling out stadiums and selling millions upon millions of albums. She lost the Best New Artist award to neo-soul singer Amy Winehouse, who tragically was unable to record another album—she died in 2010.
One-hit wonder Marc Cohn (“Walking in Memphis”) won the award over future superstars Seal and Boyz II Men.
Extra-mellow singer-songwriter Christopher Cross pulled off a rare sweep of the Grammys top four categories. It was not expected to happen, but Cross won Album of the Year (over Frank Sinatra, Pink Floyd, Barbra Streisand, and Billy Joel), Song of the Year for “Sailing” (over Sinatra’s “Theme from New York, New York,” Bette Midler’s “The Rose,” and the theme song from Fame), Record of the Year, and Best New Artist. Cross’s soft rock fell out of favor by 1983, the year of his last top 10 hit. Fellow Best New Artist nominee the Pretenders are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, however.
The nominees included some of the biggest rock bands of all time: Elvis Costello and the Attractions, the Cars, and Toto. But none of them won. Disco hitmakers A Taste of Honey (“Boogie Oogie Oogie”) did. And they broke up in 1982, just barely outlasting disco.
The Carpenters had a ton of hit songs in the ‘70s…but not as many as the guy they beat out for Best New Artist: Elton John.