Grammy Upsets Through the Years: Best New Artist Selections That Surprised Us

When it comes to the Grammys, anything can happen. Though there are favorites every year, upsets are very common, which often result in outrage from fans and a happy surprise for the winners.

With a slew of newcomers hoping to take home a gramophone trophy for Best New Artist this year, we’re taking a look back at some of the most recent times the award went to someone unexpected.

2000 – Are You a Christina or a Britney?

The Grammys answered this question in 2000 when Christina Aguilera surprisingly beat out fellow pop princess Britney Spears for Best New Artist, and subsequently became a bit of an America’s sweetheart when she mouthed “Hi Mom!” at the camera as she went up to accept her award.

Perhaps this was the start of the rumored feud between the former Mickey Mouse Club cast mates…

(HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images)

(HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images)

2003 – Norah Jones Cleans Up

Norah Jones not only won the award for Best New Artist in 2003, she basically swept the entire evening.

Besides beating out other New Artist contenders such as John Mayer, Avril Lavigne, Ashanti and Michelle Branch, Jones also won every category she was nominated in, including Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal of the Year for her debut album Come Away with Me.

In a category full of new-comers, Jones already seemed like a seasoned vet, which might have contributed to the shock attached to her win.

(Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

(Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

2008 – Amy Winehouse Beats Out T-Swift

When the late Amy Winehouse released her breakout album Back to Black in 2006, her soulful voice and ‘60s throwback style caught the attention of music-lovers everywhere.

However, Taylor Swift’s debut record Fearless was also a huge success upon its release, and at the time, she was a fresh-faced teen who had quickly won the hearts of America.

As the two polar-opposites went head-to-head at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards, it was Winehouse who came out on top, also winning Record of the Year and Song of the Year for her single, “Rehab.” Sadly, Winehouse’s promising career was cut short when she passed away in 2011 at the age of 27.

(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

2009 – Adele Takes Home the Award Over the Jonas Brothers 

Adele winning Best New Artist may not seem terribly surprising, but two years prior to the release of her smash album 21, she wasn’t exactly a household name. At the time, the young singer was best-known for her single “Chasing Pavements,” but hadn’t really hit her stride in the U.S. quite yet.

Add to it the fact that she beat out the hugely popular Jonas Brothers and, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got ourselves an upset!

(Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

(Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

2011 – Esperanza Spalding Jazzes Things Up a Bit

Perhaps the most shocking of the list is bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding’s victory in 2011, which made her the first jazz artist to ever win in the category.

Further, Spalding beat out big-name artists such as Drake, Mumford & Sons, and Justin Bieber. Needless to say, Beliebers everywhere didn’t react so well



2012 – “Who is ‘Bonnie Bear’?”

Most recently, indie folk band Bon Iver surprised pretty much everyone by beating out Nicki Minaj in 2012 for Best New Artist. Others in the category included Skrillex, J. Cole and The Band Perry, all which were arguably favored over the Justin Vernon-lead band.

The win also sparked the now age-old question, “Who is ‘Bonnie Bear’?” to which we still have no answer.



Those in the running for 2014’s Best New Artist Grammy are James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kacey Musgraves and Ed Sheeran. Who would you say is most likely to take home the award? What about least likely? Let us know in the comments section and check out the 56th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, January 26 on CBS.


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