BEST NEW ARTIST
WHO WILL WIN
This still may be a two-horse race between Victoria Monet and Ice Spice, but my highly sophisticated and equally unscientific tracking says Ice Spice is going to win. Her album Like…? delivered exactly what it promised – a tough, clever Bronx girl telling everyone just how tough and clever – and successful – she is. Longtime friend RIOTUSA gives the album a cool, unfussy vibe that shows off Ice’s vocals. She has contributed great verses to Taylor Swift (“Karma”) and PinkPanthress (“Boy’s a Liar, pt 2”), the latter of which was my favorite of her performances in 2023.
WHO SHOULD WIN
I will really have no problem if and when Ice Spice wins this award. She has been huge this year and she is likely to be a major voice for years to come. However, if I had a vote, it would go to Jelly Roll. The eclectic country singer/rapper put out a remarkable album in 2023 – Whitsitt Chapel – which somehow manages to reference both Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Outkast in its first two tracks, and serves up haunting numbers that span rap, traditional country and blues. Add to that, he recently testified before Congress calling for legislation to deal with the opioid crisis and it’s easy to root for this giant of a man who spent much of his late teens and early twenties in prison on drug-related charges.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED
This is kid-in-the-candy-store time. This category is so broadly defined that I think I could get Mick and Keith nominated. Nominee Noah Kahan had a successful album in Canada before we ever heard of COVID. Fred Again.. had a few hits in the UK back in 2021. I can still remember when I first heard The War and The Treaty’s Healing Tide album – and I was a lot younger back then.
Anyway, I’m going with a genuine new artist. Megan Moroney put out an EP in 2021, but her first single came in ’22, and it kicked off her first album, Lucky, in May of 2023. She can serve up pure country pop, but with nuance and wisdom that belies her age. As an atheist, even I can get behind a song like “God Plays a Gibson.”