By Deepa Lakshmin
Every year, the Grammy Awards shine a light on up-and-coming talent worth keeping your eyes on (and ears open for). In the past decade, the Best New Artist gramophone has landed in the arms of Megan Thee Stallion, Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Alessia Cara, and Sam Smith, to name a few. On Sunday (April 3), Sour prom queen Olivia Rodrigo joined this hall of fame shortly after opening the big night with a glowing performance of “Drivers License.”
Meg and Dua appropriately presented her with the award, passing down the honor they enjoyed themselves. There’s no doubt that Rodrigo’s breakout single skyrocketed her music career, but Best New Artist isn’t about a single chart-topping hit. It’s as much an award as it is a promise that these artists’ music careers are just beginning, and that their best is yet to come. This year’s nominees — Arooj Aftab, Jimmie Allen, Baby Keem, Finneas, Glass Animals, Japanese Breakfast, The Kid Laroi, Arlo Parks, and Saweetie, in addition to Rodrigo — all live up to that hype.
“This is my biggest dream come true,” Rodrigo said in her acceptance speech, going on to thank her team, producer and collaborator Dan Nigro, her parents, and her friends Conan Gray, Iris Apatow, and Madison Hu.
In addition to making a sly cameo in a BTS spy mission — sorry, performance — Rodrigo was nominated for a whopping seven Grammys this year, including noms in all four major categories: Best New Artist, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year. This isn’t her first best new artist win, either. At the 2021 Video Music Awards, she snagged the same title. Around the time her debut album Sour came out in May 2021, the same month she was named MTV’s Push artist, she opened up about her creative process.
“I just hope that people see bits of themselves in my songwriting, hopefully, or sort of become engrossed in the stories I'm telling," she said, “because those are my favorite songs to listen to.”
Clearly, countless people relate to her music, whether it’s the heartbreak of “Drivers License,” the nostalgia of “Deja Vu,” the angst of “Brutal,” the defiance of “Good 4 U,” the grief of “Enough For You,” the torment of “Jealousy, Jealousy,” the pain of “Traitor” — you get the idea. Sour documents the twists and turns of growing up, and I think it’s safe to say this best new artist’s music will continue to make us feel all the feelings.
Stay tuned for continued coverage of the ceremony, and find the list of winners here.