It’s no secret that the Recording Academy has faced a diversity problem for many years. This time around, they’ve made some intentional inclusive strides. This year, they invited about “2,000 diverse music creators and professionals” into the voting process — according to CEO Harvey Mason Jr. — nearly half of whom are under the age of 40. Another key change the Recording Academy has made to the Grammys is expanding their major categories to include ten nominees. That’s double the number of nominees they had four years ago, allowing musicians of many different genres to earn much-deserved recognition.
That means there are ten artists up for the coveted Best New Artist trophy in 2023, and Spotify’s Best New Artist showcase placed the category’s diversity on full display. The event brought all ten artists to the stage — Anitta, Omar Apollo, Domi & JD Beck, Muni Long, Samara Joy, Latto, Måneskin, Tobe Nwigwe, Molly Tuttle, and Wet Leg — at Los Angeles’ Pacific Design Center on Thursday, February 2nd. Each musician was able to give the audience a taste of their talent, and each performance was wildly different from the last.
The night kicked off with an intimate set from Domi & DJ Beck. The young duo, who are 22 and 19 respectively, juxtaposed their smooth, jazz-leaning sound with their brightly colored personal style. Samara Joy kept the loungey jazz going by showing off her entrancing vocals and putting her own unique spin on a cover of Adele’s “Someone Like You.” Americana folk rocker Molly Tuttle wow’d with her hit track “Crooked Trees,” joined by an adept banjo player and an upright bass guitarist. Tobe Nwigwe and his entourage made clever use of the stage by dressing in matching mint green outfits and enticing the crowd to harmonize before Omar Apollo similarly led a tender sing-along to his soulful number “Evergreen.”
When it came time for overseas rock, Måneskin and indie rock favorites Wet Leg did not disappoint. Italian Eurovision Song Contest winners Måneskin exuded the cool factor, making the audience forget they were in a small venue and not witnessing a stadium tour. Wet Leg closed out the night in a similar fashion, hyping up the crowd with a rendition of “Chaise Longe” that inspired a small-but-mighty mosh pit.
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Spotify’s event also allowed attendees to see how a handful of the Best New Artist nominees aren’t just musicians, they’re seasoned performers. Anitta, Muni Long, and Latto made use of the entire stage with a crew of talented backup dancers. Long, a Def Jam signee whose track “Hrs & Hrs” had viral stint on TikTok, brought four male dancers to the stage to deliver moves reminiscent of the ’90s boyband era. Anitta also brought the energy. Though the Brazilian pop star is used to gracing massive festival stages across the world, she still managed to deliver a show-stopping performance to the (relatively) small crowd with tracks like “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Envolver.”
From rap and Latin pop to bluegrass, jazz, and stadium rock, the 2023 Best New Artist category is nothing if not varied in sound. And no matter who ends up taking home the category’s trophy on Sunday, Spotify’s Best New Artist party made one thing clear: The Recording Academy is making an effort celebrate music from all genres equally.
See the full list of 2023 Grammy nominees here.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.