Whether it’s the Grammys, VMAs or AMAs, music awards are notorious for their loose definition of the word “new.” Whenever they narrow down the field of worthy emerging artists, there always seems to be at least one wily veteran who weaseled his or her way into the mix. At least for the New Artist Of The Year nominees at this year’s American Music Awards (airing November 18), pretty much every act had been around the music biz block by the time 2012 rolled around.
If you go by releases, J. Cole is the only “new” one here, with just one proper record to his name. If you go by length of time, then One Direction qualifies as new, having have been a group for only two years. The rest of the field comprises old pros — seriously, the guys of 1D are the only ones under age 26. Does the added time in the spotlight give the acts an advantage here? Not necessarily. The key is maintaining momentum and delivering beyond that first breakthrough. Read on to see who we think did that well enough to win New Artist Of The Year.
NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR NOMINEES:
THOUGHTS ON THE NOMINEES:
Carly Rae Jepsen, fun. and Gotye all broke out in the frigid months of late 2011/early 2012. Gotye had been making music the longest of the three, but his viral ride was the shortest. Seriously, when is the last time you heard “Somebody That I Used To Know,” or anything else from or about Gotye? That doesn’t bode well for his chances.
Carly and fun., on the other hand, exceeded initial expectations and showed themselves to be pop mainstays — if not powerhouses — after their follow-up songs gained traction (fun. even scored a spot on SNL earlier this month). While those acts had spikes and valleys over the year, J. Cole has been relatively stable following the release of his chart-topping debut album. He has an advantage in that nobody else in the field will vulture his votes, since he’s the only rapper. But he’s also the least pop-friendly choice.
And pop-friendly would be 1D’s cue. Their undeniable, globe-spanning pull shows they’re more than just a reality show experiment gone strangely right. Unlike most of the other nominees in this field, their success doesn’t hinge on Youtube views, parodies or the other metrics of meme-ification. Rather, in two short years, the Brits have managed to galvanize an extremely active, loyal fan base with its own nickname (Directioners).
Regardless of the “newness” of these five nominees, this is one of the most diverse categories in the 2012 AMA field. Each act populates a different part of the pop spectrum and serves as a worthy ambassador to the overall genre.
WHO WILL WIN:
This seems like it will come down to One Direction and Carly Rae, but let’s not count out fun. As we learned from Mumford & Sons, as much as people wanted to bust a move in 2012, they were still moved by earnest music played on real instruments. But we could have a Ross Perot-George H. W. Bush situation with Gotye and fun., which would put Carly head-to-head with 1D, which just isn’t fair. 1D were placed in this category based on their debut album Up All Night, but the hype cycle for their just-released sophomore album has been in high gear for the past two months, so they’re going into the show with a whole new wave of publicity, which they will ride to victory.
WHO SHOULD WIN:
PSY. No question. “Gangnam Style” came out way back in July, so we’re completely perplexed as to why the South Korean rapper isn’t up for this award. You’re telling us he’s good enough for the Oxford Union but not the AMAs? Nonsense! Sadly, by the time he’s nominated for 2013′s New Artist Of The Year, we’ll likely be talking about the horse dance like it’s the Macarena.