Who are the leading Grammy contenders for Best New Artist?

The Grammy Awards may not be until next February, but the eligibility period is nearing a close. As always, Best New Artist is one of the most coveted and hotly contended races. To be eligible, artists must have released an album between Oct. 1, 2013 and Sept. 30, 2014, but not have released more than three albums in their career. Additionally, this should be the year where they broke through in a significant way.

Some years, it”s easy to come up with way more than five strong candidates, but not this year. There have been a lot of new artists who have made an impression, but not that many that have been more than one-hit wonders so far… Nominations will be announced in December.

Our predictions for leading contenders for Best New Artist:

Sam Smith: Word of a new British crooner started to spread several months ago, then we heard him on Disclosure”s “Latch.” Then he appeared on “Saturday Night Live” and it was clear that there was a new star in the making via songs like “Stay With Me” and “I”m Not The Only One.” He”s the closest there is to a shoo-in this year for a best new artist nomination.

Iggy Azalea: Between “Fancy,” “Black Widow,” and her feature on Ariana Grande”s “Problem,” she”s on pop radio pretty much 24/7. She”s a very likely nominee, but she”s not a sure thing given that some folks still have a little trouble wrapping their head around an Australian rapper who sounds like she”s from Atlanta.

Five Seconds of Summer: Their mentors One Direction never received a best new artist nomination (in one of the more shocking omissions in recent years), so it”s possible that these lads won”t either since the Grammys run hot and cold on recognizing boy bands.

Ariana Grande: She would seem to be a sure bet, but you could argue that she should have been nominated when her first album, “Yours Truly,” hit No. 1 last year, as that would mark her breakthrough.

Disclosure: UK electronic duo, the Lawrence Brothers, were nominated for best dance/electronica album for the 2014 Grammy Awards. However, a rule change a few years ago means acts that have been nominated, but have not won a Grammy, can still be eligible for best new artist. This is definitely the year the group broke out into the mainstream, so their nomination is very possible.