The race for best new artist at this year’s Grammy Awards is wide open, and a live platform for the nominees highlighted how difficult the decision was for Recording Academy voters.
Spotify hosted its Best New Artist party for the first time since 2020, a showcase for the hopefuls to perform and prove their worthiness. And this year’s nominees were diverse, ranging from bluegrass to jazz to straight-up rock ‘n’ roll.
Taking place at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, the event featured performances by all ten of this year’s nominees: Anitta, Omar Apollo (who was also on the guest list at the Warner Music Grammy party earlier in the evening at the nearby Hollywood Athletic Club), Muni Long, Samara Joy, Latto, Mneskin, Tobe Nwigwe, Molly Tuttle, and Wet Leg. Here are a few of the most memorable performances.
Tuttle, the resident bluegrass nominee in this year’s lineup, charmed with songs from her 2022 “Crooked Tree” album, including the banjo-heavy title track and “Dooley’s Farm,” backed by her four-piece Golden Highway band. Clad in a short black sparkly dress, her acoustic guitar draped over her shoulder, Tuttle presented a warm, welcoming presence.
On “Can’t Get Out of This Mood,” the first track from her acclaimed “Linger Awhile” album, the 23-year-old New Yorker highlighted her old soul. Joy, who was joined onstage by a standup bassist and pianist, dug into her throaty jazz leanings during her brief set, which included a dusky, organ-flecked rendition of Adele’s “Someone Like You.”
While Long is no stranger to writing powerful songs – among them, Kelly Clarkson’s “Love So Soft” and Pitbull and Kesha’s “Timber” – she broke through as a solo artist last year with “Hrs and Hrs,” which she performed Thursday with a heavy dose of sultry. Long (born Priscilla Hamilton), flanked by a swarm of male dancers in suits, also demonstrated her pop instincts on “Time Machine,” complete with squealing guitar.
In matching white suits and surrounded by a halo of fiery strobe lights, Italy’s rock saviours demonstrated their progress over the past year. “Kool Kids” and the cynical “Gossip,” both from the new album “Rush! ,” Damiano David, guitarist Thomas Raggi, drummer Ethan Torchio, and bassist Victoria De Angelis romped with their usual taut musicianship and flair. Their raw rock performance reached a climax with the growlingly seductive “I Wanna Be Your Slave,” a song from their 2021 album, “Teatro d’ira: Vol. “I,” which is still throbbing.
Despite singing to a backing track, the Brazilian sizzler (born Larissa de Macedo Machado) made an indelible impression on stage. Anitta rolled through her pulsing hit “Lobby” in shades, teeny shorts, and a spangly bra, eventually joined by a pack of dancers to keep her company on stage. Following “Envolver,” Anitta cooed “Welcome to Brazil” before breaking into a lengthy dance routine and segueing into the driving pop of “Boys Don’t Cry,” a stylistic detour that demonstrated her versatility.