Get to Know This Year's "Best New Artists"

Clockwise from top left: Alabam Shakes, Frank Ocean, fun., Hunter Hayes, The Lumineers | Photos courtesy of Getty …Some people have called winning the Grammy award for "Best New Artist" a kiss of death--many past winners failed to find success after snagging the award. But whoever snags the award this year will be in good company with past winners like The Beatles, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, and Adele. Yeah, no biggie. Let’s get familiar with this year's nominees.


fun. – Let's be honest, guys: if you haven't heard one of fun.'s many earwormy jams by now, chances are you've been living under a rock. In a cave. On Mars. Whether it's the Janelle Monae-assisted "We Are Young" or the anthemic hit "Some Nights," most of the band's tunes feel like instant classics. They've been working together since 2007--after the break up of his old band (The Format) lead singer Nate Ruess asked his buddies Andrew Dost (formerly of the band, Anathallo) and Jack Antonoff (formerly of Steel Train) to join him to create fun. (And yes, Antonoff is designer Rachel Antonoff's brother and is currently dating "Girls" creator Lena Dunham.) Since "We Are Young" exploded on to the scene, the band's popularity has lead to performances on "Saturday Night Live," the 2012 MTV European Music Awards, and recently at an event for President Obama's second Inauguration. They've nabbed five other Grammy nominations this year.

Frank Ocean – Up for a total of six nominations including Record of the Year and Album of the Year, Ocean began his career by writing songs for artists like Justin Bieber, John Legend, and Beyonce, before pairing up with the hip-hop collective Odd Future in 2009. Breaking away from the group in 2011, Ocean has since collaborated with Kanye West and Jay-Z (on their "Watch The Throne" album), opened up a dialogue on homophobia in the hip-hop/R&B industry by writing about his own bisexuality, and most recently made headlines by allegedly getting in to a fist fight with notoriously terrible person Chris Brown over a parking spot. His performances on Jimmy Fallon and at the MTV Music Video Awards have garnered him critical praise and comparisons to artists like Prince and Marvin Gaye. So, yeah, you could say he’s making an impact on the industry.

Alabama Shakes – Best known for their soulful tune, "Hold On," Alabama Shakes formed in 2009 and used to play covers of Otis Redding, Led Zeppelin, and James Brown songs before they hit it big. Since releasing their first studio album "Boys & Girls" in April of last year, the four-person band has played at Bonnaroo and Bestival in the UK, and have made late-night television appearances on Conan and Jimmy Kimmel. We just can't get enough of lead singer Brittany Howard's smoky, powerful voice and the band's bluesy rock.

The Lumineers – The Lumineers might sound a bit like a dental hygiene product, but they are, in fact, an incredibly talented band (they were just on SNL a few weeks ago!). They formed in 2002 when drummer Jeremiah Fraites lost his brother to a drug overdose and teamed up with his lost brother's best friend, now-lead singer Wesley Schultz to deal with their loss. After placing an ad on Craigslist of all places, they found cellist and vocalist Neyla Pekarek, and by 2011 their first single was being played all over the country. The Denver-based band's style falls somewhere between folk and rock, and their first single, "Ho Hey" peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart--no simple feat. In addition to being up for Best New Artist, their eponymous album got a nomination for Best Americana Album.

Hunter Hayes – While Hayes might be nominated for Best New Artist, he is no newcomer to performing. The 21-year-old country singer performed at the White House for then-President Clinton at the age of seven! Since then, he's performed as the opening act for artists like Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, and Rascal Flatts, his first, self-titled album has been certified gold (the single, "Wanted," has gone double Platinum!), and when "Wanted" became #1 on the Billboard Country Charts, he became the youngest solo male act to do so.

Who are you rooting for at The Grammys this year? Tell us in the comments and be sure to check out The Thread's Best New Artist Nominees Spotify playlist.

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