Why (Fill In The Blank) Deserves The Best New Artist Grammy

Ciara, Fall Out Boy, Keane, John Legend, Sugarland to lock horns for award made famous by ... er, Milli Vanilli?

What do Paula Cole, Marvin Hamlisch, Debby Boone, Starland Vocal Band, Jody Watley and Shelby Lynne have in common?

Each was a proud recipient of the Best New Artist Grammy who went on to …

Well, you get the point.

It’s because of these names and many more (Arrested Development, Milli Vanilli, A Taste of Honey, etc.) that, over the years, the award became known more as a curse than an honor.

(Click here for the complete 2006 Grammy nominees list.)

Recently, however, with the success of winners such as Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys and Norah Jones, Best New Artist means something again — and don’t forget the Beatles won it in 1965.

So at Wednesday’s ceremony, you can bet your copy of From Under the Cork Tree that all five nominees would like nothing more than to snag that golden gramophone. In fact, in a year jam-packed with new artists (the Vibe Awards gave out two in their “Next” category and neither of them, Keyshia Cole nor Young Jeezy, earned Best New Artist Grammy nods), Ciara, Fall Out Boy, Keane, John Legend and Sugarland have been aggressively campaigning all year, intentionally or not.

Here’s how each nominee made it this far:

Ciara

The First Lady of Crunk & B has had us shaking our goodies since debuting last fall, but her coming-out party was undoubtedly the BET Awards, where her dance-tastic performance of “Oh” with Ludacris was followed minutes later by an enduring acceptance speech for Best Collaboration for “One, Two Step” with Missy Elliott. (It was also her first public appearance with her boo, Bow Wow.) That trophy set off a hot streak that has since included two Soul Train Awards (Best R&B Soul/ Rap New Artist and Female Entertainer of the Year), two Teen Choice Awards (Choice R&B Hip-Hop Track and Choice Make-Out Song), two MTV Video Music Awards (Best Hip-Hop Video and Best Dance Video) and one Vibe Award (Coolest Collabo). Along the way, she’s also won the support of Elliott, featured her on “Lose Control”; Gwen Stefani, who took her on tour; and Michael Jackson, who invited her to sing on his as-yet-unreleased Hurricane Katrina relief single.

Fall Out Boy

To best comprehend the appeal of the Chicago punk outfit, look no further than some of the headlines they inspired in 2005: “Fall Out Boy Demand R. Kelly Finish ‘Trapped In The Closet’ Series,” “Bored With Sleeping In Pools Of Money, Fall Out Boy Plot Secret Tour” and “Fall Out Boy’s Sound Has Changed, But The Weirdly Long Song Titles Remain.” FOB brought some much-needed humor to music in 2005, and it’s paid off. Their strangely hilarious videos for “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” and “Dance, Dance” were “TRL” staples, and the former earned them the MTV2 Award at the VMAs. Of course, the jokes wouldn’t stick if the music didn’t, but let’s hope they take the podium for the show’s sake. “I’d like to thank the Academy for nominating us for our music rather than how our bus smells,” bassist Pete Wentz recently said of the nomination, sharing a sneak of what could come.

Keane

While the hipster press continually labeled other British exports “the next Coldplay,” Keane quietly earned the title, taking the Breakthrough Act award at the 2005 Brit Awards, as well as Best British Album for Hopes and Fears, the country’s second-best-selling LP of 2004. In America, though, it’s been less about awards and sales and more about memorable performances, including a breakthrough “Saturday Night Live” appearance and a high-profile run as openers for their heroes, U2. The highlight, however, was at Coachella, where their tranquil singles like “Somewhere Only We Know” and “Bend and Break” filled the massive grounds, much like the headliner that night: Coldplay.

  The 48th Annual Grammy Awards Nominees



John Legend

Legend was just starting to become a familiar face a year ago, when he performed with mentor Kanye West at the Grammys and honored Brian Wilson at the MusiCares Person of the Year dinner a few nights earlier. But like Ciara, the BET Awards solidified him as, er, a legend-in-the-making. Along with winning Best New Artist there, the crooner treated his peers to a stunning rendition of “Ordinary People” capped only by his encore, a duet with Stevie Wonder of “My Cherie Amour. “I’ve never won an award before, and so this was it for me,” a sincere Legend said backstage. He should be used to it by the end of the Grammys, where he’s tied with West and Mariah Carey with a leading eight nominations.

Sugarland

The country trio became a duo last month when Kristen Hall left to concentrate on songwriting, a shocking departure considering how high Sugarland have been flying over the past year. Along with shipping more than 2 million copies of their debut, Twice the Speed of Life, the ATL natives scored two #2 country singles and managed to cross over to a rock audience through singer Jennifer Nettles’ appearance on the Bon Jovi single “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.” Their successful 2005 culminated at the American Music Awards, where the group performed (without Hall) and upset the Killers and Jesse McCartney by winning Favorite New Artist. Of course, the Spice Girls and Hootie & the Blowfish won the same award in years past …

The show’s over, but there’s still plenty of Grammy goodness right here on MTVNews.com. Check out photos of the hottest green-carpet and onstage moments, find out what went down at the celeb-packed parties, and share your thoughts on the performers, winners and losers.

Plus watch videos of all the nominees on MTV.com and check out exclusive video footage from the big night on Overdrive.