Leading up to the Grammy nominations on Nov. 10, Rolling Stone is breaking down 16 different categories. For each, we’re predicting the nominees, as well as who will (and who should) win on Grammy night.
After a couple of years of emerging artists feeling the brunt of how the pandemic negatively affected the industry, 2023 has created a wonderful environment for young, buzzy acts to get their due. It also felt like the first year since the dawn of TikTok that labels and promoters have found effective ways to help mold viral stars into proper artists with unique identities and the groundwork to have some type of longevity.
This means that Best New Artist will be an especially tight race this year, thanks to big songs and thoroughly effective marketing campaigns helping those moments feel bigger than 15 seconds. Leading the pack is Ice Spice, whose hit remix of fellow contender PinkPantheress’ “The Boy’s a Liar” took every possible music-discovery medium by storm. Not many artists can say they pulled the attention of both Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift before they even released a debut album. “She’s an artist’s artist,” Alex Tear, SiriusXM’s vice president of music programming, says of his pick to win. “Ice Spice fits so many cool things, from the fashion to the voice to multiformat to the mass appeal.”
Nothing’s a sure thing — the Grammys don’t have the best history with hip-hop, and fellow likely nominee Gracie Abrams has her own Taylor Swift boost. And there are plenty of other artists across genres who made their mark this year in a way that’s likely to attract some Recording Academy attention. Still, Tear is hopeful that the voting panel is getting younger and more open-minded. “Ice Spice has what it takes,” he says.
The New York-native rapper had four Top 10 hits this year, among them her remix of “Boy’s a Liar, Pt. 2” with PinkPantheress. Veteran hitmakers took the buzzy new star under their wing, with Taylor Swift adding her to a “Karma” remix and Nicki Minaj jumping on a remix of Ice Spice’s “Princess Diana.” “What’s unique about Ice Spice is the diversity of the format,” says Tear. “The pop world’s accepting her, but she hasn’t sold out.”
PinkPantheress began bubbling up in 2021 thanks to her mixtape To Hell With It, which presented a unique pop vision from the U.K. star, whose angelic voice was complemented by breezy hyperpop and garage beats. This year, however, “Boy’s a Liar, Pt. 2” rose to Number Three on the Billboard Hot 100, bringing wider recognition for her, including a spot on the Barbie soundtrack with the Y2K-pop-influenced “Angel.”
Twenty-four-year-old Peso Pluma has helped usher in a new wave of Mexican regional music, fusing corridos with hip-hop and reggaeton. It’s led to massive success for the young artist this year, with “Ella Baila Sola” — his track with the group Eslabon Armado — becoming the first regional Mexican song to reach the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. At one point, Pluma had no fewer than eight songs charting the Hot 100 simultaneously, making him a shoo-in for a Best New Artist nod.
Singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams had already headlined two tours and opened for Olivia Rodrigo by the time she released her debut album, Good Riddance, in February. With the help of the National’s Aaron Dessner, she crafted a masterfully vulnerable LP worth waiting for. On top of all that, she spent her summer opening for Taylor Swift on the biggest tour of the year, a major boost for any prospective Best New Artist nominee.
Like so many great singers before, Coco Jones got her start on the Disney Channel, starring in the 2012 TV movie Let It Shine. But the star’s teen career had little support until she signed to Def Jam and started over with her EP What I Didn’t Tell You. This time around, no one can ignore Jones staking her claim as R&B’s newest princess. Ramping up the buzz, she got none other than Justin Timberlake (another Disney veteran) to hop on a remix of her single “ICU.” “She really crushed this year with an amazing impact,” says Tear.
K-pop’s latest success story is HYBE girl group NewJeans, whose second EP, Get Up, debuted at Number One on the Billboard 200 this summer. The group eschews the more adrenaline-pumping sound of other K-pop heavyweights like Blackpink and BTS, instead going for a chill, Nineties R&B-pop-inspired sound. Their single “Super Shy” climbed to Number 48 on the Hot 100 as they built a growing fan army that is hard to ignore.
The London-born singer-songwriter has had several false starts over the years. She was signed to Polydor, releasing numerous EPs and collaborating with artists like Jax Jones and Joel Corry. After going independent, she was preparing her first full-length album when a sped-up take on her single “Escapism” took off on TikTok last fall. Luckily, the song itself was even better than the version that content creators embraced, leading to a breakthrough hit for the 26-year-old ahead of My 21st Century Blues.
TikTok’s unlikeliest success story has been this Vermont-born singer-songwriter, whose folky single “Stick Season” found a major audience on the platform last year. Since then, it has had a steady grip on creators and built a fan base for Kahan, who’s moved up to headlining arenas. He even got the attention of Post Malone, who hopped on a duet version of Kahan’s banjo-driven “Dial Drunk” in July. Kahan has all the makings of a Grammy darling.
This story is adapted from Rolling Stone’s fourth annual Grammy Preview issue, released ahead of the start of first-round voting on Oct. 13. We featured SZA on the cover, spoke to some of the year’s biggest artists about the albums and singles that could earn them a statue come February, made our best predictions for the nominees in the top categories, and more, providing a full guide to what to watch for leading up to the 2024 awards.