By Paul Russell
2/16/2003 3:24:15 AM
A few bright moments aside -- the Beatles' 1964 win, Boy George calling himself "a drag queen" while accepting Culture Club's 1983 award -- the Grammys' new-artist track record is dismal. Madonna and U2 ruled car radios and MTV but had to wait until they were in their relative dotage to win academy acclaim. The category also bypassed Eminem, despite awarding him best- rap-album honors for 1999's "Slim Shady LP." That same year, Christina Aguilera walked away with the best-new-artist trophy, edging out the more influential Britney Spears and the more talented Macy Gray. Twelve months later, Britney was pop queen, Eminem was rap's fresh prince and Christina's career was in free fall.
Among the influential acts whose breakthrough releases gave them instant cultural and critical cachet but failed to qualify them as a Grammy-worthy best new artist: Bruce Springsteen, Beck, Nirvana, Prince, the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, the Pretenders, Run-DMC, Linkin Park, the Notorious B.I.G., Janis Joplin, Moby, Tupac Shakur, Patti Smith, Public Enemy, REM, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Barbra Streisand.