A lot of folks complain about the Grammys. This is, in part, because they are a massive award show, and people love to complain about award shows and anything that is massive. Nobody likes Goliath, you know? Much of the time, the daggers are out when it comes to Album of the Year, because that’s where, say, Robert Plant wins Album of the Year in the year 2009. However, the most interesting award, when looking back, is Best New Artist. This is because here, the Grammys are prognosticating a bit. They are, in part, rewarding an artist for being both “new” and also being good. But, on top of that, there is also a vibe of “Keep an eye out for this artist, because their future is bright.”
This leads one to wonder just how, in retrospect, the Best New Artist winners turned out. How many look prescient, and how many names can you not even recognize? Here’s a look back at the Grammy Award winners for Best New Artist, in all their glory and ignominy.
The very first Best New Artist Grammy was doled out in 1960. Bobby Darin won, and that one seems to hold up. More interestingly, in 1961, the winner was Bob Newhart. This is notable because, of course, Newhart is not a musician. He’s a comedian, and is primarily known for his sitcom work. Imagine a comedian winning Best New Artist nowadays? This is not to say Newhart’s album, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, isn’t funny. It’s just that the Grammys are a little more, well, music-focused this year. By the way, Newhart also won Album of the Year in 1961.
The ‘60s, overall, are solid. A little group called The Beatles won. Tom Jones and Robert Goulet got awards, too. A couple of names no longer ring a bell (shout out to The Swingle Sisters), but they didn’t win over any “big” names. There was no winner named in 1967, for the record.
The ‘70s were pretty dope. A lot of notable names won. Now, should The Carpenters have won over Elton John? No, but it’s arguable at least. The same goes for America over The Eagles. Carly Simon is great. Bette Midler is an acquired taste, but you can’t argue with her success.
A couple of years do not stand the test of time, though. Starland Vocal Band won in 1977, and Homer Simpson thinks they suck even though he has their name tattooed on his arm. If not for people making fun of “Afternoon Delight,” nobody would remember them. Boston would have been a better choice. Then, in 1979, A Taste of Honey beat Elvis Costello and The Cars. That is not justifiable any longer. It probably wasn’t justifiable then.