While the Best New Artist category at the 2014 Grammys is one of the most diverse in years—James Blake! K. Dot! Kacey Musgraves!—there were still some serious surprises when it came to who was missing. From acts with hugely-successful debuts to artists that finally broke into the mainstream, Fuse selected nine acts we think got a cold shoulder from the Recording Academy.
Who: Bewitching pop wunderkind Lorde
Why She Deserves It: The New Zealand native already earned nods for... take a breath... Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album. Clearly, the Grammys like her. But let's not forget that "Royals" spent nine weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, making her the fifth female to reign that long with her first single.
So why did they ignore her? Well, Lorde's refreshingly nonchalant attitude towards mainstream success—she doesn't write for radio, called David Guetta "gross" and turned down an opening touring slot for Katy Perry—is a slap to the traditional mainstream model. But freakin' David Bowie told her she "sounds like tomorrow"!!! That's huge.
Who: English soul songstress Emeli Sande
Why She Deserves It: In terms of songwriting and vocals, she might be the only British songbird who can hold a candle to Adele. While her debut album Our Version of Events was eligible for last year's ceremony, the singer-songwriter didn't break into U.S. consciousness until last summer with her Top 25 hit "Next to Me." With an album full of stirring singles like the stunning, gospel-tinged "Heaven" (below) and super-soulful "My Kind of Love," it's a shock she has yet to receive any type of Grammy recognition.
Who: Nickelodeon actress-turned-soul-pop singer Ariana Grande
Why She Deserves It: The Grammys have a knack for plucking the female voice of each generation. In 1991, Mariah Carey won Best New Artist and Christina Aguilera snagged the honor in 2000. Among all the Disney and Nickelodeon starlets inspiring today's youth, Grande has proven herself a voice to be reckoned with. On R&B-pop singles like "The Way" and "Baby I," her pipes are the sonic focal point, instead of drug references and stripper shoutouts a la Miley. Grande puts the focus back on teeny-boppers with talent, like she did with her show-stopping performance at the American Music Awards (below) in November.
Another question to be asked: If Grande isn't the vocal diva of tomorrow, then who do they think is?!
Who: Indie-pop singer/actress/model Sky Ferreira.
Why She Deserves It: After numerous career setbacks and album delays, the 21-year-old finally released her full-length Night Time, My Time. Ferreira told Fuse News it's finally "the right record" for her, and Pitchfork agreed, calling it "one of the most pleasingly conventional and cohesive pieces of pop-rock to come along in 2013." Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Guardian, Complex, The New Yorker, Popjustice and many other publications included it on their year-end best albums list.
For an artist who finally found her way after corporate folk mis-packaged her as an icy electro-pop star and a punk-pop princess, a Best New Artist Grammy nod would have sent a message to newcomers: Don't give up just because your label mismanages your career for years.
Who: 19-year-old Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt
Why He Deserves It: The Odd Future rapper's major label debut, Doris, hit the Billboard 200 at No. 5 thanks to massive love from critics, including perfect scores from the Los Angeles Times and The Guardian. Even more impressive, the production was mostly handled by the 19-year-old rapper himself, making an argument for him as a serious hip hop heavyweight on the mic and behind the boards. Last year, the Grammys handsomely rewarded Odd Future member Frank Ocean with two statues, but what about Earl?
Who: English EDM brother-duo Disclosure
Why They Deserve It: As a genre, EDM is a huge player in the mainstream music world today. While Best New Artist nominee James Blake represents the lush, intricate, darker side of electronic—and is a great choice—Disclosure are more representative of how the scene is influencing popular music.
Plus, it's not easy to find a dance LP as critically acclaimed as the duo's Settle. Metacritic gives it a score of 81/100, indicating "universal acclaim" based on 31 reviews.
Who: Mysterious Canadian R&B crooner the Weeknd
Why He Deserves It: While the artist/producer did garner a Best Rap/Sung Collaboration nomination for his featured spot on Wiz Khalifa's "Remember You," it's a shame his solo work hasn't been recognized this year. The progressive R&B singer has helped usher in an exciting new wave for the genre. Everyone from Diplo and M.I.A. to Drake and Lil Wayne have snagged him for collabos, and we don't expect the admiration to wear off anytime soon given the success of Kiss Land, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
Who: Psych-rock outfit Tame Impala
Why They Deserve It: In their first Grammy nod, the band is competing for Best Alternative Music Album against established rockers Nine Inch Nails, Vampire Weekend, the National and Neko Case. The ability to edge in alongside these critical favorites is notable, but not surprising given the nominated LP, Lonerism, has been a huge hit with critics. Based on 35 reviews, the record earned a Metacritic score of 88 out of 100, indicating "universal acclaim." Listen to "Elephant" below, which will take you back in time to the psychedelic '60s.
Who: California sister-trio HAIM
Why They Deserve It: HAIM established themselves as one of 2013's breakout acts with harmony-driven songs, '70s-inspired vocals and a can't-miss live show. Meticulously crafted singles like "Falling" and "The Wire" helped send their debut LP, Days Are Gone, to the Top 10 and everyone's year-end best albums list, from Pitchfork to PopMatters to our own 41 Best Albums of 2013.
Need more Grammys? Don't miss:
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