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Who Are They Now? Grammys Best New Artist Fails

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MILLI VANILLI
Pop duo Milli Vanilli (L-R) Fabrice Morvan and Rob Pilatus performing. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/DMI/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images) | Time Life Pictures via Getty Images

There are ample reasons to be dubious about the wisdom behind Grammy nominations. A perennial point of frustration for music nerds, the Grammy Awards have always felt (even if they may not be, in real true life) slavishly devoted to rewarding money-making hit-machines or past-their-prime legends over, well, art.

But, then again, what the heck is “art”? And why should music nerds get to decide, anyway? Why is one man's Foo Fighters (winners of Best Rock Album four times since 2000) worth less (or, apparently, more) than my beloved Hold Steady who remain un-Grammyed?

Perhaps it's all a bit of a farce, a bit of a crapshoot, a bit of a popularity contest. But there can be no doubting the power of the Grammy nod, the way it boosts careers, the way it sometimes pulls relative unknowns into the spotlight. Over the decades many erstwhile under-heard musicians – especially through the category of Best New Artist – have translated a Grammy nomination into steady employment.

This is, usually, a good thing. And, going by this year's tight list of nominees (James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kacey Musgraves, and Ed Sheeran), the Grammy voters have got a pretty good grasp of the rising stars of the moment. (Even if Lorde is apparently still too new to be nominated for best new artist.)

But, surely, the Grammys must have backed the wrong horse a few times over the past 50+ years? Picked a band or a new artist of some kind that looked promising but was only to flame out, to fail commercially, or, let’s just face it, who just kind of sucked?

Well, here’s our list of ten Best New Artist also-rans, a little reminder that even a Grammy nomination isn't always enough to launch a career.

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