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The Quick 10: 10 Victims of the Best New Artist Grammy Curse

For the most part, the Best New Artist award has gone to people and bands that are still relevant (or at least known) today. Bette Midler won in 1974, Sade was the newcomer in 1986, Mariah Carey won in 1991, and a little band called the Beatles won in 1965. But it’s not necessarily an award that artists want to win – a handful of the winners lauded as the next big thing… well, weren’t. They slowly fizzled out at best or were one hit wonders at worst. Here are a few of those artists.

1. The Swingle Singers. This incarnation of the Swingles were a mostly a cappella French group who once provided background vocals for the likes of Edith Piaf. The group has replenished members as some have dropped out or retired or pursued other careers, so the Swingle Singers are still going strong today.
Who probably should have gotten it: Trini Lopez, really the only other notable act nominated.

2. Debby Boone. While “You Light Up My Life” was everywhere in 1977 and earned Debby the 1978 Best New Artist award, she was never quite able to replicate its mainstream success. She took a different career path that landed her on the Christian Contemporary charts in the ’80s, though, and even won a couple more Grammys (Best Inspirational Song in 1980 and Best Gospel Performance in 1983).
Who probably should have gotten it: Tough year. Foreigner, maybe?

3. A Taste of Honey. I mean, “Boogie Oogie Oogie” was a lovely song, but when disco died, A Taste of Honey’s careers did too.
Who probably should have gotten it: Elvis Costello.

4. Men at Work. The band who taught the world about Vegemite broke up just three years after winning the 1983 Best New Artist Grammy.
Who probably should have gotten it: Another tough one. Other contenders were Stray Cats, Asia, Jennifer Holliday and the Human League.

5. Milli Vanilli. The is the one Rob and Fab had to infamously give back after they were busted for lip-synching.
Who probably should have gotten it: Indigo Girls, I think, but I don’t think Neneh Cherry would have been a bad choice either. Though the original award was revoked from Milli Vanilli, it was never issued to another artist.

6. Starland Vocal Band. The band famous for “Afternoon Delight” acknowledged the Best New Artist curse in VH1′s 2002 show “100 Greatest One Hit Wonders.” Said Taffy Danoff, “We got two of the five Grammys – one was Best New Artist. So that was basically the kiss of death and I feel sorry for everyone who’s gotten it since.”
Who probably should have gotten it: Boston.

7. Marc Cohn. Who doesn’t love “Walking in Memphis”? But like so many others in this category, though, Marc largely remains known for the one song.
Who probably should have gotten it: Boyz II Men (says my 6th-grade self)

8. Paula Cole. Dawson’s Creek gave Paula a pretty big break when they picked up “I Don’t Want to Wait” as their theme song, but the three albums she has released since a self-imposed break to have and spend time with her baby just haven’t sold as well.
Who probably should have gotten it: I’m going to say Puff Daddy (that was his name then), because you could say his career has kind of taken off since then. But my personal choice would have been Fiona Apple.

9. Bobbie Gentry. She hit it big with “Ode to Billie Joe” in 1967. I mean, really big – the album it was on even knocked Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band out of the #1 spot on U.S. charts. While she continues to be widely respected in the industry, her commercial success never reached the same heights.
Who probably should have gotten it: Jefferson Airplane.

10. Christopher Cross. He won five Grammys in 1979 and is the only solo artist to ever take home the Best New Artist, Song, Record and Album all in the same year (he also won Best Arrangement). He won an Oscar and a Golden Globe in 1981 for writing the theme to Arthur. But since then… eh. Though he did compose “Lemon’s Theme” for 30 Rock last year.
Who probably should have gotten it: The Pretenders.


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