In one of the more controversial moves in an already controversy-filled 2018 for the Grammy Awards, Post Malone, one of the breakthrough artists of the year, will not be a Best New Artist nominee at the next awards, according to two sources and media reports.
Many Grammy categories, including Best New Artist, are determined by screening committees, consisting primarily of executives and producers, which meet and discuss candidates. Sources tell Variety that in recent screening meetings, it was decided — over some strenuous objections — that Post is basically too successful to be considered for the category.
While that argument certainly could have been made for many winners of the category over the years — 2016’s winner Meghan Trainor comes to mind — the makeup of the committee is different each year, so precedent is less of a factor than it might otherwise be.
Sources tell Variety that Best New Artist has been the most contested category in recent years and has seen several rule changes, largely because it is difficult to quantify. Also, like the Best Album, Song and Record categories, it has been expanded to eight nominees for the 2019 awards.
The rules, per an update for the 2017 awards, are more subjective than they are for many categories. To qualify for the category, the artist:
*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.
This was elaborated upon in a 2017 blog post: “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.”
While 2018’s other breakout star, Cardi B, is ineligible for the category because she was nominated for two awards for this year’s show, the key with Malone is the latter condition: The committee determined that he had “achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and impacted the musical landscape” prior to this year’s eligibility period (from Oct. 1, 2017 through Sept. 30, 2018).
Indeed, while Malone’s debut album, “Stoney,” was released late in 2016 and peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 during the week of Oct. 28, 2017, there’s little question that his popularity exploded in 2018: His “Beerbongs and Bentleys” album broke Spotify’s one-day streaming record of nearly 80 million (although that number was shattered weeks later by Drake’s “Scorpion”) and he’s had 10 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 in this year alone.
“‘Breakthrough’ is in the eye of the beholder,” a source close to the situation opined to Variety, noting that many of the committee’s members have “skin in the game,” although they are expected to be non-partisan. “Apparently, he’s too big.”
A source said that a possible factor in the decision may have been how far ahead of the other candidates Post is, with part of the rationale being a more level playing field; Bebe Rexha, Dua Lipa, Ella Mai and Troye Sivan were mentioned as other candidates.
A source close to the situation stressed that the ballots are not yet final and that the first official round of voting takes place next week.
Reps for Malone and the Grammys declined or could not be reached for comment at press time.
Nominees will be announced on Dec. 5.