The roster of Best New Artist winners includes the biggest group of all time, the Beatles; one of the best-selling female vocalists, Mariah Carey; and one of the top duos, Carpenters, as well as such other leading acts as Christina Aguilera, Maroon 5, Alicia Keys, and Sheryl Crow. But it also includes more than a few artists whose names may stump you.
Here are 10 Best New Artist winners you may have forgotten about.
Cole’s first two singles, “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” and “I Don’t Want to Wait,” were both big hits. The latter song gained additional exposure as the theme for the TV series ’Dawson’s Creek.’ Added props: Cole wrote and produced both of these hits. In fact, she was Grammy-nominated for Album, Record, and Song of the Year, as well as Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. But despite this fast start, Cole has not returned to the top 30.
(WHO SHE BEAT: Puff Daddy, Fiona Apple, Erykah Badu, Hanson)
This Los Angeles group hit #1 in September 1978 with the disco smash “Boogie Oogie Oogie.” Three years later, the group had a second top 10 hit, a remake of the 1963 foreign-language smash “Sukiyaki.” So let the record show: A Taste of Honey are not one-hit wonders. They’re two-hit wonders. Group member Perry Kibble, who co-wrote “Boogie Oogie Oogie,” died in 1999.
(WHO THEY BEAT: Elvis Costello, The Cars, Toto, Chris Rea)
The singer-songwriter hit the top 15 in June 1991 with “Walking in Memphis.” The song, which was nominated for Song of the Year, has been covered by such top acts as Cher and Lonestar. But Cohn has yet to return to the top 40. And his eponymous debut album just barely made the top 40 on the Billboard 200; it peaked at #38.
(WHO HE BEAT: Boyz II Men, Seal, Color Me Badd, C&C Music Factory)
“Afternoon Delight,” a song about sex in the afternoon that doesn’t sound remotely sexy, was a #1 hit in July 1976. The song was nominated for Record and Song of the Year (if you can believe that), but it’s seen today as a kitsch classic. (It’s also a sociological artifact, signifying that the sexual revolution of the 1960s had made its way to the blandest middle-of-the-road pop hits of the 1970s.) The quartet never returned to the top 40.
(WHO THEY BEAT: Boston, Brothers Johnson, Wild Cherry, Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band)
Goulet rose to fame in the 1960 Broadway musical ‘Camelot’, in which he sang the show-stopper “If Ever I Would Leave You.” The original cast album was the #1 album of 1961 on Billboard’s year-end chart recap. Goulet’s debut album, ‘Always You,’ was released in 1962, which led to this award. His recording career peaked in 1965 with ‘My Love Forgive Me,’ which was a top five album. Goulet died in 2007. (WHO HE BEAT: Peter, Paul & Mary, the 4 Seasons, the New Christy Minstrels and comedians Vaughn Meader, Allan Sherman)
Boone’s recording of “You Light Up My Life” was #1 for 10 weeks in late 1977, longer than any other single of the 1970s. (That’s also longer than any single by her father, 1950s superstar Pat Boone.) Boone’s single was nominated for Record of the Year. The song tied with “Love Theme from ‘A Star Is Born’ (Evergreen)” for Song of the Year. But Boone never returned to the top 40.
(WHO SHE BEAT: Foreigner, Andy Gibb, Stephen Bishop, Shaun Cassidy)
The bassist, cellist, and singer was the first jazz artist to win as Best New Artist. She won on the strength of her third album, ‘Chamber Music Society.’ The win helped her 2012 album, ‘Radio Music Society,’ crack the top 10.
(WHO SHE BEAT: Mumford & Sons, Drake, Justin Bieber, Florence + the Machine)
'Bach’s Greatest Hits,’ the debut album by this scat-singing vocal group, was a big hit in 1963. It remained on the chart for nearly 18 months and was nominated for Album of the Year. But the group never landed a Hot 100 single and never returned to the top 50 on the album chart. The group’s founder, Ward Swingle, died on Jan. 19.
(WHO THEY BEAT: Vikki Carr, Trini Lopez, John Gary, J’s With Jamie)
Lynne won this award for her sixth (!) album, 'I Am Shelby Lynne.’ Lynne has never cracked the Hot 100 (a distinction she shares with four other Best New Artist winners: comedian Bob Newhart, the Swingle Singers, Spalding, and Bon Iver). Lynne has climbed as high as #41 on the Billboard 200 (with 2008’s ’Just a Little Lovin’,' a tribute to Dusty Springfield). That gives Lynne the dubious distinction of being the only Best New Artist winner who has not cracked the top 40 with at least one album.
(WHO SHE BEAT: Brad Paisley, Jill Scott, Papa Roach, Sisqó)
The pianist and pops conductor had a string of instrumental albums in the 1960s and early ’70s. One, the bullishly titled ‘Hail the Conquering Nero,’ made the top five in May 1963. In 1971, nearly 10 years after his Best New Artist win, Nero landed his only Hot 100 hit with an instrumental version of Michel Legrand’s “Theme from ‘Summer of ‘42.’”
(WHO HE BEAT: The Lettermen, Timi Yuro, comedian Dick Gregory… and singer/actress Ann-Margret!)