A total of 343 artists are on the entry list for best new artist at the 2021 Grammy Awards. That’s the list from which voting members of the Recording Academy made their choices during the first-round voting period (Sept. 30 through Oct. 12). The 20 acts that received the most votes will move to the next step: the nominations review committee.
That committee has met every year since 1995 to determine the nominations in the Big Four categories: album, record and song of the year plus best new artist. Their mission is to upgrade and balance the nominations.
The committee seeks to weed out any nominations that might prove embarrassing to the Academy. If there had been such a committee in 1989, there might have been some discussion about the whispers within the industry that Milli Vanilli didn’t sing on their album. Instead, that duo won the award — and had to give it back, when the whispers turned into a full-fledged scandal.