One of the biggest awards handed out at the Grammys each year is the coveted best new artist trophy. Winning the prize can help put an act on the map, cement their star status — or doom them to never be heard from again. As we gear up for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards on Jan. 28, 2018, Wonderwall.com is ranking the best new artist winners from 1990 to 2017. At the very top of the list? The late, great Amy Winehouse, who was named best new artist in 2008. She penned impassioned lyrics like, "This face in my dreams seizes my guts / He floods me with dread / Soaked in soul, he swims in my eyes by the bed," and sang in a deep coo over infectious doo-wop — yet her sound was still deliciously, simultaneously modern and timeless. Keep reading to see where the other best new artists landed on our list…
The rich-voiced Adele has helped keep the music industry afloat. In a time when so many are streaming music and downloading only singles, people purchase Adele's albums in full. Her album "21" is certified diamond and has sold 31 million copies worldwide, while her latest album, "25," sold 3.38 million copies in its first week alone. Adele deserved to win best new artist in 2009. Duffy, the Jonas Brothers, Jazmine Sullivan and Lady Antebellum didn't stand a chance that year.
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3. Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey was properly named best new artist in 1991 after stunning the world with her amazing range on songs like "Someday" and "Vision of Love." Then she gave us "Emotions," "Hero," "Dreamlover," "One Sweet Day," "My All," "We Belong Together"… Need we say more?!
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4. Lauryn Hill
"The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill." Really that's all that needs to be said. But we'll add this: The album is a classic that can still spin on repeat and hold up. Lauryn, who won the best new artist Grammy in 1999, both sings and raps with grace and grit. She's credited as producing, writing and arranging the entire album. She's both strong and vulnerable, political and lovely, and we hate that this was her only solo studio album.
5. Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera beat out Britney Spears for best new artist in 2000. It was surprising at the time because Brit Brit was such an "It girl." But when it came to true vocal prowess, Britney was no match for Xtina, who can still make you stop dead in your tracks as she effortlessly sings up and down the scale.
6. Carrie Underwood
Sometimes it's easy to forget that country darling Carrie Underwood came from "American Idol." She won the fourth season of the show in 2005 and just two years later took home the best new artist trophy at the Grammys. Her hits "Jesus, Take the Wheel" and "Before He Cheats" are still two of the best country tunes ever released.
7. Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys picked up the best new artist award in 2002, the same year she also won the song of the year Grammy for "Fallin'." A force on the piano, she was named the top R&B songs artists of the 2000s decade by Billboard. She's sold more than 35 million albums worldwide and continues to put out banner tracks. Case in point: her duet with Jay Z, "Empire State of Mind."
8. Sheryl Crow
Michael Jackson knew Sheryl Crow had great pipes. He brought her on tour as a backup singer during his Bad World Tour in the '80s. But it wasn't until the singer-songwriter released hits "Leaving Las Vegas" and "All I Wanna Do" in the early '90s that people really started to love Sheryl as a solo artist. She beat Ace of Base, Counting Crows, Crash Test Dummies and Green Day in '94 for the best new artist prize. And she still rocks!
9. Maroon 5
Maroon 5 released its debut album, "Songs About Jane," in 2002, but the band wasn't crowned best new artist until 2004. Their hit "Harder to Breathe" was heavily played on the radio, which definitely helped their cause, as did their addictive, funky pop-rock vibe and singer Adam Levine's high register. The band has kept it consistent as far as staying on the charts. And they've successfully played with their sound, trying out disco and synth-heavy dance-pop in recent years.
10. John Legend
Man, can John Legend pen a sweet love song. He had us with "Ordinary People" then kept us swooning with "All of Me." In 2006, the R&B crooner was named best new artist over Ciara, Fall Out Boy, Keane and Sugarland. It definitely helped that he was initially championed by Kanye West. John released his debut, "Get Lifted," on the rapper's GOOD Music label, but he's proved he can hold his own, entourage aside.
11. Norah Jones
Norah Jones, who was named best new artist in 2003, has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, with her 2002 jazz debut "Come Away With Me" leading the charge (it alone sold more than 26 million copies). She's since released four albums and though some feel she fizzled out after her debut, there's no denying the lasting impact of that first record and her ever-sultry vocal.
12. Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton, the queen of sad love songs, won best new artist in 1994 after the release of her self-titled debut, which featured hits like "Another Sad Love Song," "Breathe Again" and "Love Shoulda Brought You Home." A lyric from the last track on this list even became a well-known line in pop culture after Halle Berry uttered a profanity-laced version of it to Eddie Murphy in the 1992 romantic comedy "Boomerang." Toni's deep and seductive voice is truly one of a kind.
13. Sam Smith
This British singer-songwriter, who was named best new artist in 2015, picked up right where Adele left us when she decided to go on another one of her long breaks from the biz following her smash "21." Equipped with an intensely soulful voice, Sam Smith sings beautiful, lovesick tunes. We fell for him when he was featured on Disclosure's breakthrough single "Latch" and fell even harder when we heard his solo hit "Stay With Me."
14. LeAnn Rimes
LeAnn Rimes kicked off her career with the 1996 country album "Blue" and quickly became one of the genre's favorites. She later transitioned into more of a pop artist with hits like "Can't Fight the Moonlight" from the "Coyote Ugly" soundtrack. She's sold 37 million records worldwide. She picked up the best new artist win way back in '97, but she hasn't been putting out many successful albums since. Her last one, "Remnants," only made it to No. 88 on the Billboard 200 chart after its U.S. release in February 2017.
15. Chance the Rapper
The 2016 winner of the coveted award? Chancelor Jonathan Bennett, better known as Chance The Rapper. His third mixtape, the smash hit "Coloring Book," became the first streaming-only album to win a Grammy when it was awarded the best rap album trophy at the 2017 Grammys ceremony. Chance's song "No Problem" with 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne and his contributions to Kanye West's "Ultralight Beam" and "Famous" nabbed him another five noms that year too! He took home three Grammys at the 2017 ceremony, also including the prize for best new artist and best rap performance.
16. Hootie & the Blowfish
There's no mistaking Darius Rucker's southern drawl. As the black frontman of a blues rock band who later ventured into country, Darius has caught some heat. But there is no denying his talent. When he sings "Only wanna to be with you," we totally believe him and admittedly swoon a little. Hootie, which picked up the best new artist trophy in '96, sold more than 21 million albums in the United States alone.
17. Paula Cole
Hello, "Dawson's Creek" theme song! Yes, Paula Cole, who won best new artist in 1998, gave us "I Don't Want to Wait." A Lilith Fair staple, Paula's smooth delivery was lush and lovely. Plus she had a way of making women feel sexy as hell. Her jazzy track "Feelin' Love" from her second album, the double platinum "This Fire," is still one of the most seductive tunes to date.
18. Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown Band offered that down-home country sound with lyrics that were super sweet and relatable, like on their first big hit "Chicken Fried": "I love to see the sun rise/ See the love in my woman's eyes/ Feel the touch of a precious child/ And know a mother's love." Their music is incredibly tight and frontman Zac Brown's voice is oh-so smooth. They snagged best new artist in 2010.
19. Arrested Development
In 1993, alternative hip-hop group Arrested Development not only won best new artist, but Rolling Stone magazine named them Band of the Year. They were refreshingly conscious, positive, groovy and Afrocentric during a time when gansta rap was all the rage.
20. Esperanza Spalding
Jazz artist Esperanza Spalding sings and plays the bass, violin and cello. She became one of the first jazz artists to win the best new artist prize when she took home the award at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards in 2011.
21. Soul II Soul (runner up)
In 1990, Milli Vanilli took home the best new artist award — and we all know what happened there! Vacated! So from the other folks nominated that year — Indigo Girls, Tone Loc, Soul II Soul and Neneh Cherry — we'd pick London's dance-soul group Soul II Soul for the win. They gave us hits like "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" and "Keep On Movin'." Throw on either of those slick tunes these days and people will inevitably groove, as the tracks still hold up.
22. Bon Iver
So what if no one can ever understand what Justin Vernon of indie folk outfit Bon Iver is singing. (Remember Justin Timberlake famously did a skit on "Saturday Night Live" about this?!) The music is beautiful and puts you in trance and Bon rightfully won best new artist in 2012. Justin Vernon recorded much of it in a remote cabin in the woods, so it feels obscure. They are tunes to write to, walk to, get lost in. But they can also be described as background music.
"We Are Young" was the anthem of late 2011 and 2012 as indie rock band fun., which won best new artist in 2013, hit it out of the park with the catchy tune. Their music is just, well, fun. Though it does have an emo vibe mixed in, it's good party music, driving music, and live, it sounds great.
Amy Lee's voice struck us all when the tracks "Bring Me To Life" and "My Immortal" dropped. Her range was ridiculous! As the frontwoman for rock band Evanescence, she co-wrote many of the tunes and could play the piano too. During a time when Linkin Park ruled this genre, Evanescence — 2004's best new artist — came with some serious girl power that led them to the bank: They sold more than 17 million copies of their debut "Fallen" worldwide.
25. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Does anyone else feel like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis is a gimmick? "Thrift Shop" was fun, don't get us wrong. We totally danced to it a few times. And we love that they introduced us to Mary Lambert on "Same Love." But when it comes to hip-hop, or in their case pop-hop, we're just not totally buying what the 2003 Grammy best new artist winners are selling.
26. Shelby Lynne
Country singer Shelby Lynne became a fan favorite due to her contralto voice. She won the best new artist award in 2001 after the success of her album "I am Shelby Lynne," released in 1999. Her song "Dream Some" appeared on the soundtrack for "Bridget Jones's Diary." While she has a pretty sweet voice, it's not distinct enough to make her truly stand out.
27. Marc Cohn
Marc Cohn was named best new artist in 1992. The folk-rock singer-songwriter, whose voice is similar to Michael McDonald's, gave us the hit "Walking in Memphis." His other tunes never really made it into the mainstream, though he did notably collaborate with Bonnie Raitt and Rosanne Cash.