This year’s Grammy Awards included Taylor Swift winning the prestigious album of the year prize for her work “1989,” while Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars were awarded the record of the year prize for their hit “Uptown Funk.”
In addition, Ed Sheeran picked up the song of the year award for his song “Thinking Out Loud.”
Other winners include Meghan Trainor, who won the best new artist award; Kendrick Lamar for best rap album for his work “To Pimp a Butterfly”; Ms. Swift for the best pop vocal album award for "1989"; Chris Stapleton for the best country album prize for his album “Traveller”; the group Muse for the best rock album award for their work “Drones”; D’Angelo and the Vanguard for best R&B album for the album “Black Messiah”; and the musical “Hamilton” for the best musical theater album award.
The cast of the latter performed as part of the telecast, an unusual move for the Grammy Awards but one that reflects how much “Hamilton” is dominating pop culture.
The time lag of the Grammys – and of most awards shows – can mean that the winners of some of these prizes can seem odd to observers. For example, despite winning the best new artist prize, Ms. Trainor has been on the scene for some time now, with her single “All About That Bass” having debuted during the summer of 2014.
But Trainor’s album “Title” came out in January 2015, which may partially explain it. The Grammys eligibility date went from October 2014 to September 2015 for albums.
However, as one might assume, the best new artist award winner (or nominees) can be a harbinger of who wins the big prizes at the Grammy Awards years later. In 2008, Swift, now a Grammys mainstay, was nominated for the prize, while popular band Mumford & Sons was nominated for the award in 2011 and Mr. Sheeran and Mr. Lamar were nominated for the prize as recently as 2014.
Just being nominated for the award and performing a song on the Grammys telecast can be a boon. According to Billboard, singer Brandy Clark had the biggest percentage gain in terms of downloads for the tracks that were sung during the Grammys for her song “Hold My Hand” after she performing the song during the 2015 Grammys ceremony. Her number of downloads had previously been “a negligible figure,” writes Billboard reporter Keith Caulfield.
Winning or being nominated for the best new artist award doesn’t always guarantee music industry success, of course. “Will the winner go on to dominance – or become the answer to a future trivia question about one-hit wonders?” CNN writer Todd Leopold asked of this year’s best new artist winner.
Meanwhile, NPR writer Marc Hirsh points out that the new artist prize is strange in that some artists have won it after releasing multiple albums. Mr. Hirsh advocates getting rid of it altogether. “Best New Artist is an odd duck,” he writes. “It's predictive at best… and patronizing at worst… Best New Artist is awarded not for the work of the past year but for the work the performer will be doing in years to come. It professes to honor an artist now for what they will do in the future. At the same time, Best New Artist carries with it the less-generous whiff of being a Grammy with training wheels."