1. Victoria Monét: “On My Mama”
The R&B singer Victoria Monét has been a behind-the-scenes presence in pop music for well over a decade, but this 34-year-old Sacramento native finally broke out as a solo artist in 2023 with the sleek, sultry hit “On My Mama.” In a charming interview with Gayle King on “CBS Mornings” earlier this week, Monét said that she recorded the song about six weeks after giving birth to her daughter, and used its confident swagger to help lift herself out of postpartum depression: “I had to step out of myself and say, ‘What would Victoria need to hear from someone else? And now say that to yourself.’”
2. The War and Treaty: “Lover’s Game”
The War and Treaty is the husband-and-wife duo of Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter, two accomplished Nashville-based musicians with tremendous voices that blend in beautiful harmony. (You may have seen them last month at the Emmy Awards, where they sang with Charlie Puth during a particularly tear-jerking “in memoriam” segment.) Their sound is a mix of country, blues and soul, but this fiery title track from their 2023 debut album shows off their rock-star potential.
3. Jelly Roll: “Son of a Sinner”
The rapper-turned-country-phenom Jelly Roll — who has scored a series of recent, raw-voiced radio hits about sin and redemption — has an opportunity to make Grammy history: At 39, he could become the oldest solo act ever to win best new artist. As he put it in his rousing, meme-ready speech when he won the equivalent trophy at the Country Music Awards a few months ago, “There is something poetic about a 39-year-old man winning new artist of the year.”
4. Noah Kahan: “Stick Season”
A proud Vermonter who seems destined to have his own Ben & Jerry’s flavor, the rising star Noah Kahan’s music blends a kind of wordy, breakneck-paced delivery with the lyricism of an unabashed romantic. On his signature hit “Stick Season,” he sounds like Mumford’s most irreverent son.
5. Ice Spice: “In Ha Mood”
Ice Spice may be the most famous name on this list, thanks to her recent pop cultural ubiquity, her appearance on the remix of Taylor Swift’s “Karma,” and her eye-catching, rap-game-Little-Orphan-Annie ’do. The thumping “In Ha Mood” is one of many recent singles that shows off the 24-year-old M.C.’s effortless charisma and her dexterous, unbothered flow.
6. Coco Jones: “ICU”
The 26-year-old R&B singer-songwriter and actress Coco Jones currently stars as Hilary Banks on “Bel-Air,” Peacock’s reimagining of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” but she’s also a prolific musical talent with a lush, rich voice. Her range is on full display on “ICU,” a velvety ballad also nominated for best R&B performance and best R&B song.