Back when we were predicting the Grammy nominees for Best New Artist, we thought Irish rocker Hozier was the man to beat, with pop singer Meghan Trainor close behind, but all that changed when nominated were announced. Trainor underperformed, earning no nominations besides Best New Artist, and Hozier wasn’t nominated anywhere at all. So who’s the frontrunner now?
We have nine Expert journalists making their predictions and four of them predict the award will go to James Bay, giving him leading 11/8 odds: Glenn Gamboa (Newsday), Edna Gundersen, Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby) and Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby).
Bay wasn’t among our predicted nominees, but he surprised with his strong showing both in this category and in the rock field, where he earned bids for Best Rock Song (“Hold Back the River“) and Best Rock Album (“Chaos and the Calm“). That was enough to move him to the head of the line, but he’s not a lock.
Country breakout Sam Hunt is also a strong contender, getting 7/2 odds based on support from experts Phil Gallo and Chris Willman. He has one other nomination this year: Best Country Album for “Montevallo.” He’s also a proven winner, having taken New Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards, but that was voted on by fans, while the Grammys are decided by the music pofessionals who make up the recording academy.
Trainor also gets 7/2 odds thanks to support from Tim Gray (Variety) and Lyndsey Parker (Yahoo Music). She may not have received any other nominations this year, but she’s arguably the biggest hit-maker in the running, and she was nominated for Record and Song of the Year last year for her breakthrough single “All About That Bass,” which shows proven academy support.
Our last expert, Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), is taking a chance on surprise nominee Courtney Barnett, giving her 15/2 odds. But none of the experts are backing the last nominee in the category, Tori Kelly.
Our Editors, we who cover awards year-round for Gold Derby, also give James Bay the slight edge. Four out of six of us — Marcus Dixon, Rob Licuria, O’Neil and Sheehan — are predicting a win for the rocker, while Chris Beachum and I favor country newcomer Sam Hunt.
Our Top 24 Users, who got the highest scores predicting last year’s Grammy winners, also declare Bay the frontrunner, with 15 of them betting on him to win, compared to five for Hunt, three for Trainor and one for Kelly.
Who do you think will win?