Alessia Cara won Best New Artist at the 2018 Grammy ceremony, and while it was a happy moment for herself, her fans and her family, many people weren’t please.
Cara received backlash on social media because her debut album, Know-It-All was released in November 2015 and her debut single “Here” was released in April 2015, meaning many did not consider her to be a new artist. However, with the new Grammy rules, an artist can be considered for this category after releasing a debut album. The current rules are:
Must have released a minimum of five singles/tracks or one album, but no more than 30 singles/tracks or three albums.
May not have entered into this category more than three times, including as a performing member of an established group.
Must have achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and impacted the musical landscape during the eligibility period.
The Grammys also say:
“Our Best New Artist category probably has the most complicated set of rules of any of our categories. Essentially, a “new artist” is defined for the GRAMMY process as any performing artist or established performing group who releases, during the eligibility year, the recording that first establishes the public identity of that artist or established group as a performer. A GRAMMY nomination in a performance category in a prior year disqualifies an artist from competing in this category, unless the nomination came from a single or a guest spot on another artist’s recording, and the artist hadn’t yet released a full album.”
So the Grammy might consider her song “Stay” with Zedd as the breakout song during the elegiblity period.
Alessia addressed the controversy on her Instagram post below.
to address the apparent backlash regarding winning something I had no control over: I didn’t log onto grammy.com and submit myself. that’s not how it works. I didn’t ask to be submitted either because there are other artists that deserve the acknowledgment. but I was nominated and won and I am not going to be upset about something I’ve wanted since I was a kid, not to mention have worked really hard for. I meant everything I said about everyone deserving the same shot. there is a big issue in the industry that perpetuates the idea that an artist’s talent and hard work should take a back seat to popularity and numbers. and I’m aware that my music wasn’t released yesterday, I’m aware that, yes, my music has become fairly popular in the last year. but I’m trying very hard to use the platform I’ve been given to talk about these things and bring light to issues that aren’t fair, all while trying to make the most of the weird, amazing success I’ve been lucky enough to have. I will not let everything I’ve worked for be diminished by people taking offence to my accomplishments and feeling the need to tell me how much I suck. here’s something fun! I’ve been thinking I suck since I was old enough to know what sucking meant. I’ve beat u to it. And that’s why this means a lot to me. despite my 183625 insecurities, I’ve been shown that what I’ve created is worth something and that people actually give a shit. all of the years feeling like I wasn’t good at anything or that I was naive for dreaming about something improbable have paid off in a way that I have yet to process. I know it sounds cheesy and dumb but it’s the honest truth. thanks to everyone who’s shown me kindness and support along the way. I’ll stop talking now.
The rules of the category are obviously ambiguous and have changed two times this decade already. However, the way people discover and digest music is completely different than how it was even five years ago. Fellow nominee SZA had put out a studio EP, Z, in 2014 and self released other EPs before. Chance The Rapper had released a slew of music via mixtapes before winning Best New Artist in 2017. Basically what people define as “new” will change from person to person, but it doesn’t mean people are any less or more deserving.