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The Grammys Best New Artist (BNA) award is one of the most unique in the award landscape.
It's a trophy that is set up to reward current success (popularly, and critically) AND potential. It has basically become a gamble on the future of the award winner.
There have been times in history when that gamble has gone wrong: 1979 and 1980 spring to mind as the Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan moments of the BNA category.
In 1980 , Ricky Lee Jones beat out The Blues Brothers, Dire Straits, and -- bizarrely enough -- Robin Williams (yes Mork/Mrs. Doubtfire Robin Williams). Ricky Lee Jones has a website where she's soliciting donations for a new album in 2014.
There was also the spectacular flameout of 1990 with Milli Vanilli, who beat out the Indigo Girls and rapper Tone Loc. When it came to light that Milli Vanilli did not actually sing their songs, the BNA award was vacated.
Trivia break: The award was not handed out in 1967, making 1990 and 1967 the two years there were no Best New Artist winners. Also, bonus trivia: The 1961 Best New Artist was the one and only Bob Newhart!
Let the Debates Begin!
There are also the fun barstool argument starters: Did the Academy voters make the right call?
In 1974, Bette Midler beat out Barry White, Marie Osmond, Eumir Deodato and Maureen McGovern. We would argue that Midler is a totally acceptable choice out of that stocked field but the Bette vs Barry dichotomy is an interesting debate.
In 1992, Marc Cohn beat Boyz II Men, Seal, C&C Music Factory and Color Me Badd. Who would have guessed that, today, Seal would be the biggest name to come out of that group? Cohn is still touring and writing songs.
There was also the great 2011 Twitter firestorm when Esperanza Spalding won over the eclectic group of Justin Bieber, Drake, Mumford & Sons and Florence + The Machine. The Beliebers took to social media wielding pitchforks and torches.
Of course it's fun to play the 20/20 hindsight game with the BNA award because of its implied promise of future success. However, many times the Academy does actually get it right (or close to right).
The Beatles did win ( 1965 ).
A. At some point they were "A New Artist".
B. They would seem to fit the bill for what the academy was looking for in the BNA award.
But for everyone like that, there is a Cyndi Lauper (winner 1985 ), Elton John (nom 1971), Barry White (nom 1974 ), Luther Vandross (nom 1982 ) and Eurythmics (nom 1984 ). Those are big names who did make the cut.
The point is that for all the jokes we make about the Best New Artist category, (and we came into this article ready to make them!) overall, the Academy has a pretty acceptable track record of picking stars who go on to keep making a name for themselves.
Are there misses? Yes, of course, but ask any pro-sport general manager about how it is to see draft potential -- no one is 100%
So who is up for this year?
Will the Academy make the right call? We'll see Sunday, and in the years to come.
Your thoughts? Who would you pick this year? Tell us in the comments.