A Look Back at the Best New Artist Winners That Launched to Superstardom

It's hard to imagine these music titans were once rising stars

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LeAnne Rimes, Christina Aguilera and John Legend with their best new artist Grammys. Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage; SGranitz/WireImage; Kevin Winter/Getty Images
01 of 25

Megan Thee Stallion

Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Thee Stallion. Kevin Mazur/Getty

The 2021 champ already was a superstar when she earned her trophy, breaking out in 2019 with her hit "Hot Girl Summer." The next year, her "Savage" took off thanks to the viral #SavageChallenge on TikTok and a remix with none other than Beyoncé. And by August 2020, she was officially everywhere, thanks to her hot-button collaboration with Cardi B, "WAP." She also became the first woman ever to hit No. 1 on the Rap Songwriters chart.

02 of 25

Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The teen not only won best new artist at the 2020 awards, but also all four major categories: album of the year, record of the year, song of the year and best new artist (she also won best pop vocal album). She was the youngest person ever to do so. And to prove she's sticking around, she picked up two more awards in 2021 — including record of the year — plus a Best Original Song Oscar in 2022.

03 of 25

Dua Lipa

61st Annual GRAMMY Awards - Press Room
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In a crowded, trendy 2019 field that included acts like H.E.R., Bebe Rexha and Chloe x Halle, the English pop star led the pack. She continued the year by dropping new singles, performing around the world and dating Anwar Hadid.

04 of 25

Alessia Cara

60th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Show
Kevin Winter/Getty

Once Cara's viral hit "Here" hit the radio waves, the singer became a household name. The same year she won best new artist, 2018, she was also nominated three times in other categories: song of the year and best music video for "1-800-273-8255" and best pop duo/group performance for "Stay."

05 of 25

Chance The Rapper

59th GRAMMY Awards - Show
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS

Chance made Grammy history by being the first artist to win without ever selling physical copies of his music. In 2017, he won best new artist, best rap performance for "No Problem" and best rap album for Coloring Book.

06 of 25

Meghan Trainor

The 58th GRAMMY Awards - Press Room
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After her song "All About That Bass" was heard on repeat on every station throughout the country in 2015, it was only fitting that Trainor took home the award for best new artist the following year.

07 of 25

Sam Smith

LOS ANGELES, CA - February 8, 2015 Sam Smith with all his Grammys backstage at the 57th Annual GR
Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Smith swept the Grammys in 2015, winning record of the year and song of the year, as well as the coveted best new artist award. In November 2017, they dropped their second album, The Thrill of It All.

08 of 25

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

56th GRAMMY Awards - Show
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The rap duo took home the Grammy for best new artist, best rap performance and best rap album in 2014 thanks to a little song called "Thrift Shop." The song took on a life of its own, staying at No. 1 on the Billboard charts for weeks and surpassing 1 billion views on YouTube.

09 of 25

Bon Iver

The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Media Center
Steve Granitz/WireImage

The indie folk band won best new artist and best alternative music album for Bon Iver in 2012. Since then, Bon Iver has gone on to play at some of the biggest music festivals, like Bonnaroo and Coachella — and collaborate with one Taylor Swift.

10 of 25

Zac Brown Band

The 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards - Press Room
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After their single "Chicken Fried" became a hit in 2008, the band found itself at No. 1 on the country charts. Two years later, they earned their spot as best new artist at the Grammys.

11 of 25

Adele

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In 2009, the British singer took the music world by storm with her debut album, 19, earning her a win for best new artist and best female pop vocal performance ("Chasing Pavements").

12 of 25

Amy Winehouse

Nominee for Record Of The Year, Album of
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

2008 was the year of Winehouse. She won five Grammys, including three for her hit song "Rehab" and one for best pop vocal album for Back To Black. She also beat out Taylor Swift and Paramore to win best new artist.

13 of 25

Carrie Underwood

50th Annual Grammy Awards - Arrivals
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She won America's hearts when she was crowned American Idol in 2005, but it wasn't until 2007 that the Grammys recognized Underwood as the best new artist. She's the only American Idol winner to have nabbed the award.

14 of 25

John Legend

48th Annual Grammy Awards - Press Room
Kevin Winter/Getty

The singer cleaned up at the 2006 Grammy Awards, winning best new artist, best R&B album (Get Lifted) and best male R&B performance ("Ordinary People").

15 of 25

Maroon 5

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Kevork Djansezian/AP

The band, which experienced huge success with their album Songs About Jane, was among a very competitive group of nominees back in 2005, including Kanye West, Los Lonely Boys and Joss Stone.

16 of 25

Norah Jones

45th Annual Grammy Awards
Scott Gries/Getty Images

Jones' 2002 album Come Away with Me launched her career thanks to her mega-hit song "Don't Know Why." After a whirlwind year, her album went to No. 1 and earned her five Grammys.

17 of 25

Alicia Keys

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SGranitz/WireImage

In addition to winning best new artist at the 2002 Grammys, Keys also won the song of the year for "Fallin'."

18 of 25

Christina Aguilera

The 42nd Annual GRAMMY Awards
SGranitz/WireImage

How could we have ever forgotten that Xtina bested Britney Spears in 2000 to win best new artist? That must have been the tightest race in history. (Fact: "Genie in a Bottle" is still a banger.)

19 of 25

Lauryn Hill

Singer Lauryn Hill poses with her five Grammy awar
Lauryn Hill. Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty

In 1999, Hill became one of only four musicians to win best new artist and album of the year (for The Miseducation of Lauyn Hill) in the same year.

20 of 25

LeAnn Rimes

The 39th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

Rimes still holds the title of being the youngest Grammy winner in history: She was only 14 when she won best new artist and best female country vocal performance for "Blue" in 1997.

21 of 25

Sheryl Crow

37th GRAMMY Awards
Jim Smeal/WireImage

In 1995, the singer beat out Counting Crows and Green Day to take home the prize for best new artist.

22 of 25

Mariah Carey

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While it's almost impossible for us to remember Carey as an up-and-comer, 1991 was one of her biggest yet: She hit the top of Billboard's Top 100 with her album, Emotions.

23 of 25

Cyndi Lauper

Grammy Awards - February 26, 1985
Barry King/WireImage

At her very first Grammys in 1985, Lauper received four nominations, including song of the year for "Time After Time" and record of the year for "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." Ultimately, she just took home the prize for best new artist. Not too shabby.

24 of 25

Carly Simon

Carly Simon Portrait Session
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Simon won the award in 1971, thanks to her critically acclaimed self-titled debut album.

25 of 25

Crosby, Stills & Nash

Photo of Crosby Stills & Nash
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At the 12th Grammy Awards, the band won best new artist in a very competitive group that included some rock-and-roll greats. "You know, it's nice to win something when the other guy's Led Zeppelin. That's fun! None of us were there that night so [Atlantic Records co-founder] Ahmet Ertegun accepted it on our behalf," Graham Nash later said in an interview.

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