Debby Boone - 1978
The daughter of 50's pop superstar Pat Boone, Debby Boone had recorded previously with her sisters, but it was her version of the song "You Light Up My Life" that put Boone in the bright pop spotlight. The song was written for the movie of the same name. "You Light Up My Life" spent 10 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and it has been ranked as one of the top 10 pop singles of all time. This runaway success was enough to convince Grammy voters that Debby Boone was the Best New Artist of the year. Unfortunately, she never again reached the pop top 40, but she did have some country and Christian music success. Among the losers in the 1978 Best New Artist category was a band named Foreigner.
Marc Cohn - 1992
"Walking In Memphis" is a powerful song. It did seem to herald the arrival of a major new talent among pop singer-songwriters. Cohn has remained active writing and performing new material live and in the studio. Unfortunately, he has not yet scored a second top 40 pop hit to match the success of "Walking In Memphis." Among the artists who went home empty-handed from the 1992 Best New Artist competition were Boyz II Men and Seal.
Paula Cole - 1998
"Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" and a bigger question, where did Paula Cole's pop success go? She had a second major pop hit with "I Don't Want to Wait," but then the well ran dry. Only 2 studio albums have appeared in the 10 years since winning the Best New Artist Grammy, and neither produced a significant hit single. Fiona Apple, Erykah Badu, and a man calling himself Puff Daddy all went home empty-handed from the 1998 Best New Artist category.
Christopher Cross - 1981
The success of Christopher Cross did not abruptly end after he won the Best New Artist Grammy. However, he went from the still unequaled feat of winning Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best New Artist all at the same ceremony to his last top 10 hit two years later. Two #1 pop singles and two more top 10 hits wrap up the legacy of the most celebrated new artist in the history of the Grammys. The Pretenders, now members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, had to settle for also-ran status in the 1981 Best New Artist category.
Milli Vanilli - 1990
The hits were flying fast and furious, and it almost seemed like a no brainer to crown Milli Vanilli as the Best New Artists of 1990. Then the roof caved in, and amid major embarrassment, the Grammys revoked Milli Vanilli's trophy when it was revealed the two group members did not sing on their records. The Indigo Girls were losers in the 1990 Best New Artist race.
Starland Vocal Band - 1977
Starland Vocal Band all but disappeared following their victory as Best New Artist based primarily on their one major hit single "Afternoon Delight." A follow-up album failed to make it into the top 100 of the Billboard album chart. A variety show built around the group lasted six weeks. By 1981 the band broke up. The group Boston were turned away as Best New Artist for 1977.
The Swingle Singers - 1964
The Swingle Singers are an oddity in the annals of Grammy Best New Artists. The choral group focused on jazzy interpretations of classical music to take home the Best New Artist accolade. The album Bach's Greatest Hits did the trick. The group has been through a number of incarnations and still performs today. However, the pop charts were never the group's strong point. The competition in 1964 was far from stiff for this award.
A Taste of Honey - 1979
By any account, A Taste of Honey's debut single "Boogie Oogie Oogie" was huge. It was certified double platinum for two million singles sold. The song went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the group's self-titled debut album hit the top 10 as well. The Best New Artist award almost seemed a curse, however, when follow up hits failed to materialize except for the mellow, sweet remake of Kyu Sakamoto's "Sukiyaki" in 1981. The group was over by 1983. Elvis Costello and the Cars were among the artists who lost out to A Taste of Honey in 1979.