This year’s Best New Artist category at the Grammys is anybody’s game to win: It’s a lineup full of acclaimed stars with strong hit-making capabilities. And as diverse as the field is, many of the nominees have collaborated with one another during the past year, leading to one of the friendliest competitions of the 2018 awards. Here’s a closer look at the singers, songwriters and rappers nominated for Best New Artist.
Who: Twenty-one-year-old Alessia Cara’s nomination for Best New Artist comes nearly three years after she became a mainstream one-to-watch. Back in 2015, she released the Isaac Hayes–sampling misanthrope anthem “Here,” leading to a powerful alternative-R&B debut, Know-It-All. Cara has kept her momentum surging forward in the years following, with back-to-back collaborations responsible for her other four nominations at this year’s ceremony.
The Hit(s): Cara showcased her pop range this year, leading to her two biggest hits to date. She teamed with EDM superstar Zedd for the flirtatious, upbeat “Stay” (nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group performance). Her biggest moment, though, was a spot alongside fellow New Artist nominee Khalid on rapper Logic’s powerful, uplifting single “1-800-273-8255.” The song’s name is the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and sees three young stars use their platform for a positive purpose.
Who: Khalid blasted onto the scene with a little help from an unlikely source: Kylie Jenner. The social-media maven played the teen’s future hit “Location” in a Snapchat post on what was also Khalid’s graduation day, leading to a rare moment of literal overnight success. The savvy, catchy “Location” was only the beginning, and his debut album American Teen proved his prowess as a pop and R&B crossover hitmaker.
The Hit(s): Khalid’s debut solo hit is a nominee for Best R&B Song, but his appearance on Logic’s “1-800-273-8255” alongside fellow New Artist nominee Cara is up for another big award: Song of the Year. The single reached Number Three on the charts and will be performed by the trio at this year’s ceremony.
Who: Emo-rap star Lil Uzi Vert has been releasing a steady stream of successful mixtapes since 2015, including the acclaimed Luv Is Rage. A star turn on Migos’ Number One single “Bad and Boujee,” however, was a turning point for the 23-year-old, leading to even more chart success with his melancholy track “XO Tour Llif3.” He released his debut album, Luv Is Rage 2, over the summer.
The Hit(s): “Bad and Boujee” and “XO Tour Llif3” were chart forces to be reckoned with and made Lil Uzi Vert a hot feature commodity. In recent months he has appeared on songs released by A$AP Mob, Playboi Carti and Nav. His most recent single as a lead artist is his follow-up to “XO Tour Llif3,” “The Way Life Goes,” with assistance from Nicki Minaj and Oh Wonder.
Read More: 10 New Artists You Need to Know: April 2016
Who: Julia Michaels is this year’s wild card: She’s the only nominee without a full-length album, but she’s the most prolific songwriter of the group. The singer-songwriter launched her career as a teenager with a pair of EPs but found greater success by teaming with co-writer Justin Tranter to pen surefire hits for the likes of Selena Gomez and Britney Spears. Michaels re-emerged from the pop shadows this year with a hit song, “Issues,” and the EP Nervous System.
The Hit(s): The endearingly vulnerable “Issues” hit Number 11 on the Hot 100, and she found herself on singles by Clean Bandit and Maroon 5. In previous years, Michaels co-penned “Miss Movin’ On” by Fifth Harmony, “Sorry” by Justin Bieber, “Love Myself” by Hailee Steinfeld, “Hands to Myself” by Selena Gomez, “Dive” by Ed Sheeran and “Heavy” by Linkin Park.
Who: Up for five awards at this year’s ceremony, SZA has been steadily building momentum for nearly a decade. She self-released her acclaimed debut EP, See.SZA.Run., back in 2012 before eventually signing to Top Dawg Entertainment. The singer-songwriter has long been bubbling under, appearing on songs with Chance the Rapper and touring with Jhene Aiko. Before her debut album, Ctrl, she found her biggest platform co-writing Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj’s “Feelin’ Myself” and appearing on Rihanna’s “Consideration.”
The Hit(s): Ctrl itself was the talk of the music industry during the past year, but it helps that the luxurious, personal LP featured a couple surprise hits. “The Weekend” samples Justin Timberlake’s “Set the Mood (Prelude)/Until the End of Time” and finds the singer sharing her beau with other women. She teamed up with Travis Scott on “Love Galore” and paid tribute to her favorite actress on “Drew Barrymore.” SZA also appeared on Maroon 5’s “What Lovers Do” and a remix of Lorde’s “Homemade Dynamite” alongside Post Malone and fellow New Artist nominee Khalid.