Music

11 Underrated Grammy Nominees You Should Add To Your Playlists

Take a break from Taylor and Kendrick to give some smaller artists love.

1. Ashley Monroe

Warner Bros Records

Who? Ashley Monroe is a 29-year-old singer-songwriter from Knoxville, Tennessee. She’s also BFFs with Miranda Lambert and one-third of the country girl group Pistol Annies.

What is she nominated for? Best Country Duo/Group Performance (“Lonely Tonight” with Blake Shelton) and Best Country Album (The Blade)

What does she sound like? Country as hell. There is nothing pop about Monroe’s mournful, Appalachian-tinged voice or her fondness for staunchly traditional production. Her sound is pure, unadulterated Nashville and all the better for it.

Where should a new listener start? The plaintive break-up ballad “The Blade” or the darkly ironic “Dixie.”

2. Kehlani

Arturo Torres / Atlantic Records

Who? Kehlani is a 20-year-old alt-R&B singer from Oakland, California.

What is she nominated for? Best Urban Contemporary Album (You Should Be Here)

What does she sound like? Kehlani is alt-R&B’s ray of sunshine. Somewhere between Rihanna and Jhené Aiko sonically, Kehlani has made a lane for herself by wearing her heart on her sleeve at all times. She is disarmingly sincere about everything: love, self-esteem, heartbreak. She always sounds like she’s working towards her best self, which should be annoying, but is, in reality, incredibly inspiring. Also, to be clear: her album is chockfull of absolute jams.

Where should a new listener start? The slurry, defiant “Did I?” or the poppy, clear-eyed “Alive (ft. Coucheron).”

3. Jazmine Sullivan

Shane McCauley / RCA Records

Who? Jazmine Sullivan is a 28-year-old R&B singer from Philadelphia with a big, expressive voice that rivals Adele’s.

What is she nominated for? Best Traditional R&B Performance (“Let It Burn”), Best R&B Song (“Let It Burn”), and Best R&B Album (Reality Show)

What does she sound like? Sullivan has an absolutely pyrotechnic voice, but she isn’t a show-off. Instead of front-loading her songs with flashy, vocal fireworks, she opts for a slow-burn approach, letting the emotions build and bubble until they boil over. The result? Music that is genuinely intimate and soulful.

Where should a new listener start? The fun, fiery “#HoodLove” or the absolutely gut-wrenching “Forever Don’t Last.”

4. Galantis

Henrik Korpi / Big Beat Press

Who? Galantis is a Swedish electro-pop duo comprised of Christian “Bloodshy” Karlsson and Linus Eklöw.

What are they nominated for? Best Dance Recording (“Runaway (U & I)”)

What does they sound like? Top 40 on steroids. While Galantis’ music definitely skews more EDM than pure pop, Karlsson is a hitmaker by trade — dude helped write Britney Spears’ “Toxic” — so the group’s bangers don’t skimp on hooks or melody.

Where should a new listener start? The euphoric dance hit “Runaway (U & I)” or the delightfully weird ballad-banger mashup “Gold Dust.”

5. Brandi Carlile

David McClister / ATO Records

Who? Brandi Carlile is a husky-voiced singer-songwriter from Seattle with an activist streak. In addition to releasing five albums worth of alt-country perfection, Carlile has advocated for LGBTQ rights, partnered with organizations dedicated to ending violence against women, and is an outspoken environmentalist.

What is she nominated for? Best Americana Album (The Firewatcher’s Daughter)

What does she sound like? A rugged, bluesy outlaw. It doesn’t matter if she’s whispering sweet nothings to a lover or howling declarations of independence, Carlile’s raspy, urgent voice always seems to positions her just outside of the mainstream.

Where should a new listener start? The rollicking, rough-and-tumble “Mainstream Kid” or lush, pastoral ballad “The Eye.”

6. Highly Suspect

Highly Suspect

Who? Highly Suspect is a Brooklyn-based rock band comprised of Johnny Stevens (guitars and lead vocals), and twin brothers Ryan (bass/vocals) and Rich Meyer (drums).

What are they nominated for? Best Rock Song (“Lydia”) and Best Rock Album (Mister Asylum)

What do they sound like? Highly Suspect make rock music — straight-up, no bullshit rock music. It’s hard. It’s loud. It’s gritty. It’s the kind of music that rattles your ribcage and gets you riled up.

Where should a new listener start? The crunchy, angst-ridden “Lydia” or the unapologetically sour “Mom.”

7. Andra Day

Myriam Santos / Warner Bros Records

Who? Andra Day is a 31-year-old powerhouse vocalist from Spokane, Washington.

What is she nominated for? Best R&B Performance (“Rise Up”) and Best R&B Album (Cheers To The Fall)

What does she sound like? Andra Day has one of those voices: enormous, expressive, full of texture. One that sounds like it belongs in a different era. An impression Day happily plays into with a retro-pop sound that recalls Amy Winehouse: decidedly old-school but with modern flourishes to keep it from being kitschy.

Where should a new listener start? The simple, stunning piano ballad “Rise Up” or the languid kiss-off “Gin & Juice (Let Go My Hand).”

8. Wolf Alice

RCA Records

Who? Wolf Alice are London-based alt-rock band comprised of Ellie Rowsell, Joel Amey, Joff Oddie, and Theo Ellis.

What are they nominated for? Best Rock Performance (“Moaning Lisa Smile”)

What do they sound like? Genre-wise Wolf Alice’s music runs the gamut: grunge-y trash-rock one moment, nightmarish dream-pop the next. What keeps it from feeling aimless and incoherent, however, is the band’s almost sinister level of confidence: Wolf Alice makes music that feels tightly controlled, but not slick. It’s a tight line to walk and they do it with scary ease.

Where should a new listener start? The ’90s-esque “Moaning Lisa Smile” or the unnerving, atmospheric “Silk.”

9. Courtney Barnett

Windish Agency / Mom + Pop Music

Who? Courtney Barnett is a 28-year-old singer-songwriter from Melbourne, Australia.

What is she nominated for? Best New Artist

What does she sound like? Guitar-driven stream-of-consciousness rock. Every Courtney Barnett song is a peak into the mind of a very smart, very funny, very self-aware woman.

Where should a new listener start? The brittle, brilliant “Pedestrian At Best” or the more laid-back “Depreston.”

10. The Internet

Odd Future LLC

Who? The Internet is a soul collective made up of Odd Future members Syd the Kyd and Matt Martians, well as Jameel Bruner, Patrick Paige, Christopher A. Smith, and Steve Lacy.

What are they nominated for? Best Urban Contemporary Album (Ego Death)

What do they sound like? Lately? Chill AF. Singer Syd tha Kyd sings in a hushed, dreamy tone over sexy basslines and pleasantly stoned production. The overall effect is hazy and intimate, like a smoke-filled bedroom.

Where should a new listener start? The sultry, bass-heavy “Special Affair” or the spacey “Girl.”

11. Lauren Daigle

Centricity Music

Who? Lauren Daigle is a 24-year-old Christian pop singer from Lafayette, Louisiana.

What is she nominated for? Best Contemporary Christian Music Album (How Can It Be)

What does she sound like? If you’re a fan of Hillsong United’s soaring, synth-pop hymns, you’ll love Daigle’s Christian power-pop. Like the musical megachurch, she’s fond of towering choruses, inspirational lyrics, and EDM-lite production.

Where should a new listener start? The vaguely Sia-like power ballads “First” and “How Can It Be.”

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