Who Will Win the Grammy for Best New Artist?

(Getty Images)The Grammy for Best New Artist is the most exciting category in part because it's the hardest to predict. Some years have seen the honor go to future legends (The Beatles, 1964), while a good number have gone to artists who've failed to stay on the charts — or, in the case of 1990 winner Milli Vanilli, sing their own songs. Even the nominations were a bit of a shocker this year, as "Royals" singer Lorde was passed over in favor of less visible artists (she's doing just fine with four nominations in other categories). 

Even if we can't say with certainty which of these artists is going to take the big one come January 26th, we can offer an introduction and helpful statistics. Which of these talented performers will you be rooting for?

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Originally from: Seattle and Spokane, Washington
Performing since: Macklemore released his first EP in 2000 but did not collaborate with Ryan Lewis until 2008.
Famous fans: Fellow nominee Ed Sheeran is a pal and an admirer.
Breakthrough album: The Heist, released independently in October 2012
Commercial stats: As of January 8, 2014, The Heist has sold 1.246 million copies. The singles "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us" topped the Hot 100, while "Same Love" peaked at number 11.
Awards won: 2 American Music Awards, a BET Award, a Billboard Music Award, an MTV Europe Music Award, an MTV Video Music Award, an mtvU Woodie Award, a MuchMusic Video Award, a Teen Choice Award, and a YouTube Music Award. 
Also nominated for: Album of the Year, Best Rap Album, Song of the Year (for "Same Love" featuring Mary Lambert), Best Rap Performance (for "Thrift Shop" featuring Wanz), Best Rap Song (for "Thrift Shop"), and Best Music Video (for "Can't Hold Us" featuring Ray Dalton) 

Kacey Musgraves
Originally from: Golden, Texas
Performing since: Musgraves released her first album, Movin' On, in 2002
Famous fans: Katy Perry is so into Musgraves, she asked her to open for part of her upcoming PRISM tour.
Breakthrough album: Same Trailer Different Park, released on Mercury Nashville in March 2013
Commercial stats: Same Trailer has sold almost 300,000 copies since its release, and debuted at number 2 on the Billboard 200. The single "Merry Go 'Round" peaked at number 14 on the Hot Country charts.
Awards won: CMA Award for New Artist of the Year
Also nominated for: Best Country Song (for "Mama's Broken Heart"), Best Country Song  (for "Merry Go 'Round"), Best Country Album

James Blake
Originally from: London, England
Performing since: Blake independently released his first record in 2009, and released his eponymous debut album on Polydor in 2011.
Famous fans: Beyoncé, Kanye, anyone with really good taste.
Breakthrough album: Overgrown, released on Polydor in April 2013
Commercial stats: Overgrown peaked at number 32 on the Billboard 200. 
Awards won: 2013 Mercury Prize

Kendrick Lamar
Originally from: Compton, California
Performing since: Lamar was 16 when he released his mixtape Youngest Head N***a in Charge (Hub City Threat: Minor of the Year) in 2003.
Famous fans: Pretty much everyone at this point. Lady Gaga was an early fan and collaborator (things fell through due to "creative differences"). Now he's professional pals with Eminem.
Breakthrough album: Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, released October 2012
Commercial stats: Lamar's debut sold 241,000 copies in its first week alone, and has gone on to sell approximately 1.1 million copies since then. "Swimming Pools (Drank)" peaked at number 17 on the Hot 100, "Poetic Justice" peaked at 26.
Awards won: ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Award, 3 BET Awards, 6 BET Hip Hop Awards, an MTV Video Music Award Japan, a MOBO Award, a Soul Train Music Award
Also nominated for: Album of the Year, Best Rap Album, Best R&B Performance (for "How Many Drinks?" with Miguel), Best Rap Performance  (for "Swimming Pools (Drank)"), Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (for "Now Or Never" (with Mary J. Blige)), Best Rap Song (for "F***in' Problems" with ASAP Rocky, Drake and 2 Chainz)

Ed Sheeran
Originally from: Framlingham, England
Performing since: Sheeran released his first independent EP, The Orange Room, in 2005, when he was 14. 
Famous fans: Taylor Swift is his BFF forever, and he's tight with One Direction.
Breakthrough album: +, released in September 2011 on Atlantic Records.
Commercial stats: + peaked at number 5 on the Billboard 200 and has been certified Gold sales of over 500,000.
Awards won: 2 Brit Awards, a BT Digital Music Award, an Ivor Novello Award, a Q Award.
Also nominated for: Song of the Year (in 2013, for "The A Team"), Album of the Year (for Taylor Swift's Red, as a featured artist)

I'm the former Zimbio Music Editor. Into music, cats, karaoke, and shiny things. Follow me: Google