The Recording Academy revealed the full list of nominees for the 62nd annual Grammy Awards on Wednesday, with breakout stars Billie Eilish, Lizzo, and Lil Nas X leading with the most nominations — including nods for Best New Artist.
For the second year in a row, the academy has nominated eight contenders to compete for the title — except this year, there isn’t a single rock nominee. Instead, the list is heavy on soul and R&B, with British singer-songwriter Yola, New Orleans funk outfit Tank and the Bangas, and Austin duo Black Pumas all getting nods.
The eight artists competing are all at various stages in their careers, and announcing the winner will undoubtedly be one of the ceremony’s biggest moments. Until then, here’s a list to help you get acquainted with this year’s nominees.
Who: The 17-year-old Los Angeles home-schooler went viral after releasing “Ocean Eyes” in 2016. Her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, was recorded in her brother Finneas’ bedroom. The record made her an international superstar, albeit a touch darker and more goth than her mainstream contemporaries. “Kids use my songs as a hug,” she told Rolling Stone in February. “Songs about being depressed or suicidal or completely just against yourself — some adults think that’s bad, but I feel that seeing that someone else feels just as horrible as you do is a comfort. It’s someone to scream with.”
The Hit(s): The synth-y, 808-filled “Bad Guy” creeps into your consciousness, with lyrics like “I’m the bad type, make-your-mama-sad type, might-seduce-your-dad type” supplying additional goosebumps. Other standouts include the somber “When the Party’s Over” and the nightmarish “Bury a Friend.”
Who: 100% that bitch. Even though her single “Truth Hurts” was released in 2017, it was nominated for three Grammys this year, proving the singer, born Melissa Jefferson, has become one of the industry’s biggest stars. She attracts fans with her insanely catchy pop songs and humor (see below for the incredible video for “Juice”). “There’s literal specifics here,” she told Rolling Stone of her album Cuz I Love You. “You’re in the scene of a movie: my movie, my life.”
The Hit(s): “Yeah, I got boy problems, that’s the human in me,” she sings over a piano loop on “Truth Hurts.” “Bling bling, then I solve ’em, that’s the goddess in me.” Elsewhere on Cuz I Love You, “Juice” is a twerk masterpiece, while “Jerome” is an R&B slow-burner.
Lil Nas X
Who: Four remixes of “Old Town Road” later, it feels like a lifetime ago that 20-year-old Montero Hill achieved worldwide fame after making a country-rap song for just $30. The song’s yee-haw appeal was so intense that even Debbie Harry began covering it with Blondie. “I planned on using the entire summer to study,” Lil Nas X said of the track in May. “But I got bored one day and made this song.”
The Hit(s): Besides the obvious “Old Town Road,” which spent 35 weeks at Number One on the Rolling Stone Top 100, check out “Panini,” which interpolates Nirvana’s “In Bloom.” Lil Nas X hadn’t heard Nevermind before he sampled the legendary song, but, hey, Kurt Cobain probably would have hated it anyway.
Who: Rosalía’s flamenco-pop record El Mal Querer won Album of the Year at the Latin Grammys last Thursday, making her the first female performer to win the award since Shakira in 2006. Now, the 26-year-old Spanish star is up for Best New Artist, continuing her crossover into mainstream pop. “I think of any genre as a snow globe — you don’t admire it for its stillness,” she told Rolling Stone last year. “You have to shake it up and see how it explodes.”
The Hit(s): The El Mal Querer opener “Malamente” features irresistible handclaps and sparse synths. See also: Her reggaeton track with Ozuna, “Yo X Ti, Tu X Mi,” “Pienso en Tu Mira,” and “Milionària.”
Read More: Artist You Need to Know: Rosalía
Who: After spending the past decade toiling in various roles in England (as a member of the rock band Phantom Limb, as a hit dance-music songwriter, as a singer with Massive Attack), the Bristol singer-songwriter released her stunning Dan Auerbach-produced debut, Walk Through Fire, earlier this year. Since then, she’s opened for Kacey Musgraves, become an honorary member of the Highwomen, and shared a stage with Dolly Parton. “Getting tweeted by Kendall Jenner and Jamie Lee Curtis was not on the list of things I expected for this record,” she told Rolling Stone earlier this year.
The Hit(s): The Sixties pop pastiche of “Faraway Look” has been the songwriter’s runaway streaming hit thus far, with close to two million streams on Spotify alone. Other Walk Through Fire highlights include the country-soul perfection of “Ride Out in the Country” and the Phil Spector bombast of “Lonely the Night.”
Who: Three years ago, the 25-year-old singer-songwriter’s path to becoming the industry’s Next Big Thing began when a video of a college-age Rogers presenting her song “Alaska” to Pharrell at NYU went mega-viral. Rogers took several years sculpting her major-label debut, Heard It in a Past Life, which announced her as a major indie-pop force and catapulted her into a yearlong tour of sold-out theaters and massive clubs. “If I could write down all of the big bucket-list check marks, all the career goals kind of happened,” she told Rolling Stone in October.
The Hit(s): Rogers’ breakthrough “Alaska” is still her signature song, having amassed more than 100 million streams since its release. And although she’s yet to receive any Top 40 airplay, songs like “Light On” and “Burning” have become indie-radio hits.
Tank and the Bangas
Who: This New Orleans roots collective has been barnstorming the country with their high-energy blend of Crescent City funk, R&B, hip-hop, and modern soul for the past half-dozen years. The band’s latest, Green Balloon — which features Robert Glasper and Zaytoven — helped break the group nationally, landing them appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and a genre-spanning tour with fellow hometown-hero Big Freedia. “We’d always been turning out little clubs and going hard no matter what,” frontwoman Tarriona Ball told Rolling Stone last year. “It’s the same goal in mind, one or one million. We’re lighters — we gotta spark people.”
The Hit(s): Their 2013 album cut “Eggs Over Easy” has landed on several television shows (Being Mary Jane, Queen Sugar), but the group’s biggest tunes to date, like the hip-hop-flavored “Nice Things” and “Smoke.Netflix.Chill,” are from their 2019 major-label debut.
Who: One of the newest of the new artists in this year’s category, this Austin retro-soul outfit is a collaboration between producer-guitarist Adrian Quesada and singer Eric Burton. The band’s critically acclaimed self-titled debut (with indie stalwart ATO Records) was released just this summer, and the group has appeared on CBS: This Morning and toured with everyone from Jade Bird to St. Paul and the Broken Bones. “It feels so easy to meld together,” Burton said. “That’s what’s most important for us now: to continue to look for new sounds.”
The Hit(s): With only one album to its name, the group’s debut LP features catchy highlights like “Colors,” “Fire,” and “Black Moon Rising,” all of which have garnered more than a million streams on Spotify after becoming retro/roots playlist mainstays.
Read More: SXSW 2019: 30 Best Artists We Saw in Austin