Meet This Year's Best New Artist Nominees | 2022 GRAMMYs Awards Show
Editor's Note: The 2022 GRAMMYs Awards show, officially known as the 64th GRAMMY Awards, has been rescheduled to Sunday, April 3, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The below article was updated on Tuesday, Jan. 18, to reflect the new show date and location.
The Best New Artist category has been female-dominated in recent years. Five of the past six winners have been women, from Meghan Trainor to Megan Thee Stallion. This year's 10 nominees are even split with men and women, making the race particularly interesting.
There's also a handful of more experienced acts, like indie-rock group Glass Animals, who saw their first hit in 2014. That's not all that unusual, though, as the BNA award honors artists who achieved a breakthrough and notably impacted the musical landscape — and this year's roster have done just that.
The 2022 GRAMMYs Awards will see two teen phenoms, Olivia Rodrigo and The Kid LAROI, go head-to-head. They face off with one of country music's biggest breakouts (Jimmie Allen), rap's sample queen (Saweetie), Kendrick Lamar's protégé (Baby Keem), a U.K. standout (Arlo Parks), an alternative star (Japanese Breakfast), Pakistan's first female nominee (Arooj Aftab), and an eight-time GRAMMY winner (FINNEAS).
No matter who you're rooting for, GRAMMY.com has your guide to this year's Best New Artist nominees. Learn more about the latest crop of rising stars here.
A singer, composer, and producer hailing from Lahore, Pakistan, Arooj Aftab has been working hard to get her music heard since the early 2000s.
She was one of the first Pakistani musicians to implement the internet to promote her music in her home country, helping pave the way for the Pakistani indie scene with her viral songs, "Hallelujah" and "Mera Pyaar." Aftab makes history with her Best New Artist nomination, as she's the first female Pakistani nominee.
Now three albums in, Aftab's music has continued to captivate fans and critics alike, delivering poetic lyrics with her silky voice and a sound that blends new-age and classical minimalism.
This year's Vulture Prince spawned her biggest streaming hit to date, "Mohabbat," which landed on Barack Obama's 2021 Summer Playlist.
The only country artist in this year's Best New Artist category, Jimmie Allen instantly made an impact in the genre with his heartfelt 2018 debut "Best Shot."
Starting off his career with back-to-back No. 1 singles on country radio (his belt-worthy love song "Make Me Want To" reached the top in 2019), Allen has continued to make strides, becoming the first Black artist to win New Male Artist of the Year at this year's Academy of Country Music Awards.
The Milton, Delaware native's 2020 EP, Bettie James — as well as a deluxe "Gold Edition" he released earlier this year — showed off his versatility, bringing his country flair to collaborations with pop acts like Noah Cyrus ("This Is Us"), R&B stars Babyface ("Forever") and Monica ("Pray"), and Latin hitmaker Pitbull ("Flavor").
His talent is being noticed by superstars, too: in what the singer-songwriter calls an "ultimate dream" career moment, Allen was recently featured on Elton John's Lockdown Sessions on the track "Beauty In The Bones."
Two years after Baby Keem first gained recognition with his impactful debut "Orange Soda," the California rapper had the year of his life in 2021.
The 21-year-old collaborated with Travis Scott, Kanye West, and his cousin, Kendrick Lamar, the latter of whom teamed with Keem on the fittingly titled track "Family Ties." (The two first worked together on an interlude for the Kendrick-curated Black Panther soundtrack in 2018, and Keem is the first artist on Lamar's company with Dave Free, pgLang.)
"Family Ties" is the latest single from Keem's debut album, The Melodic Blue, which hit No. 5 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart. Keem has been touted for pushing boundaries in the rap/hip-hop sphere the way that Lamar has throughout his career.
"I don't want to do anything the common way," he told Lamar in an interview they did together for i-D magazine in 2020. "I want to reflect my feelings more in the music, with the chords that I love, because but I don't have too many songs with chords that I actually love and feel. I feel the s*** I've been experimenting with now can tell a story on its own… I think everybody knows now that I'm on some completely different s***."
Billie Eilish fans know this name well: FINNEAS is not only her older brother, but the mastermind producer behind all of the teen phenom's music.
After scooping up eight GRAMMYs for his work on Eilish's music — including Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Record of the Year (twice), and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical — FINNEAS further wowed fans as a solo artist in his own right.
The 24-year-old delivered his cinematic debut album, Optimist, in October, writing and producing all 13 tracks on his own.
He's the only 2022 Best New Artist candidate with previous nominations (let alone wins); with this nomination, FINNEAS shares another GRAMMY honor with his sister, who won the award in 2020.
Another name that might be familiar, Glass Animals is one of the more established artists on this year's Best New Artist lineup.
The British indie-rock band have released three albums since forming in 2010, landing their first hit in 2014 with the hypnotic "Gooey." But it was their 2020 single "Heat Waves" that took the group from indie-rock stardom to mainstream success.
The song's bellowing beat drop and wavy melody made it an infectious radio hit, earning Glass Animals their first No. 1 at alternative radio and first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (where it reached the top 10).
Subsequently, their third studio album, 2020's Dreamland, became their first top 5 album in the UK, and first top 10 LP in the U.S. That breakthrough is ultimately what scored Glass Animals a Best New Artist nomination, despite their nearly decade-long catalog.
Korean-American musician Michelle Zauner has been performing under the moniker Japanese Breakfast since 2013 (she has three permanent band members, interchangeably referred to as an indie project and an indie-rock band).
Similarly to Glass Animals, Japanese Breakfast saw their breakout in 2021 with "Be Sweet," the lead single from the act's third album, Jubilee.
Perhaps the newfound success spawned from Zauner's own personal happiness that inspired the LP — a change of pace from Japanese Breakfast's previous projects, which were a result of the pain Zauner experienced after the death of her mother.
"It was definitely a conscious choice to be like, 'OK, I've written two very dark albums and a whole book about grief, I want to write about something else,'" Zauner told GRAMMY.com ahead of Jubilee's release. "A lot of the record is about struggling or figuring out how to do that or making decisions for myself that allow me to embrace that again."
The Kid LAROI
Charlton Kenneth Jeffrey Howard — better known as The Kid LAROI — first caught attention when he joined forces with the late Juice WRLD on their 2020 track "Go."
At the end of 2020, the Australian singer-rapper released his breakout breakup hit, "Without You," an acoustic ballad that received a remix with Miley Cyrus earlier this year.
But it was his collaboration with Justin Bieber, the infectiously bouncy "Stay," that really took him worldwide, amassing nearly 2 billion streams and sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks.
At just 18 years old, The Kid LAROI's willingness to be vulnerable has connected with his generation and beyond, including superstars like Ed Sheeran and Elton John, who have both dubbed him "the biggest artist on the planet."
Though she has only been releasing music for three years, Arlo Parks (whose birth name is Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho) has been writing poems and turning them into songs since she was in her early teens.
The British singer-songwriter has been delivering vivid, sensitive narratives since her smooth 2018 debut "Cola," which eventually landed her a record deal with London-based indie label Transgressive Records in 2019.
In January, Parks released her debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, a collection of 12 songs that expanded her alt-rock sound with touches of jazz and lo-fi production.
The project earned her the annual Mercury Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in the U.K. music industry honoring the album of the year.
This year took Olivia Rodrigo from Disney star to global phenomenon thanks to her smash debut, the belt-worthy, piano-driven power ballad "drivers license."
The instantly ubiquitous song, which Rodrigo had teased on social media in 2020, broke two Spotify records and made the singer-songwriter the youngest artist to ever debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100, where it sat for a record-setting eight consecutive weeks.
But that was just the beginning for Rodrigo, who has already released five singles from her critically acclaimed album, Sour – including another No. 1 with the feisty Paramore-nicking "good 4 u," notching Rodrigo another record as the first album to contain two No. 1 debuts.
If she wins, she'd be the third-youngest winner after LeAnn Rimes, who was 14 when she won in 1997, and Billie Eilish, who was 17 upon winning in 2019.
After establishing herself as a viral star on social media in 2017, Saweetie first broke onto the rap scene with the confident single "My Type" in 2019.
The California rapper born Diamonté Harper has had two other singles take off, the most recent being her biggest hit to date, the club-ready Doja Cat collab "Best Friend." Several of her songs masterfully sample past hits, including Petey Pablo's "Freek-A-Leek" on "My Type."
She's proving to be a businesswoman, too: in addition to launching her own record label (Icy Records) in 2018, Saweetie has partnered with several brands, including PrettyLittleThing for a clothing and jewelry collection and McDonalds for its Famous Orders series.
With her anticipated debut album, Pretty B**** Music, set for release in 2022, Saweetie hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.