Rosalia, Billie Eilish, Lizzo Destroy (In A Good Way) Spotify’s Best New Artist 2020 Party

Billie Eilish
(Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Billie Eilish performs at Spotify’s 2020 Best New Artist Grammy Week party in Los Angeles

In a year where so many veteran acts were out of album cycle (or maybe just unable to gain traction in a music streaming world skewing young) and in a week where the Grammys dumpster fire/crisis in leadership seemed to decimate the Recording Academy’s credibility, there was nothing like seeing the stunning live performances at last night’s Spotify’s Best New Artist 2020 Grammy week party to restore one’s faith.

This because the Grammys’ Best New Artist category is stacked with ballers who cross over to the best artists of the year, period. And, really, there are few artists on the road today more exciting than Spain’s electrifying Rosalia; the 2019 music juggernaut that is Billie and Finneas Eilish; the amazing firecracker that is Lizzo; the sublime Americana-ish soul crooner by way of Bristol, Yola; the in-the-pocket funk of Austin’s Black Pumas; the TikTok wunderkind sensation Lil Nas X; the whirling dervish and songbird that is Maggie Rogers; and the idiosyncratic and wondrous Tank and The Bangas straight outta New Orleans. It’s a diverse, genre-spanning and wildly creative slate, brilliant from top to bottom and to see them perform in one place without the filters of TV, speechifying, hand-wringing and exit music is a gift from above and very likely better than this year’s Grammys run of show or really most any show anywhere.

(Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Spotify)

Lizzo performing at the Spotify 2020 Best New Artist Party in Los Angeles.

The divine Lizzo (see: “WME’s Matthew Morgan On Routing Lizzo To Superstardom“)
and her brilliant MCing, singing and choreography with only a DJ and dance crew, set the opening bar to the stratosphere as smash hits “Truth Hurts” and Good as Hell” turned into sing-a-longs with this night’s well-coiffed crowd. 

Yola, this week’s Pollstar cover subject, is an amazing hybrid of soul, Americana and gusto whose breakthrough is more than well-deserved. And Billie Eilish (our March cover story) and her bro have repeatedly proven their songcraft, production and voices transcend all the hype and even if they are consensus odds-on favorites to win the category.

In many’s estimation, the glorious shapeshifter that is Rosalia stole the night with her fierce music gumbo of pop, rap, reggaeton, Flamenco and more capped with sick dance moves. “Pienso en tu Mirá” is a global rhythmic ballad smash that needs no translation. Neither does the darker, groove-filled “A Pale,” her melodious “Malemente” and especially “Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi,” which featured a cameo with the great Ozuna that brought the energized house down.

Perhaps receiving the most attention during his performance was Lil Nas X who has managed to transcend the one-hit wonder curse with “Panini” that focused this chatty cooler-than-thou crowd like nothing else and then took it to fits of ecstasy during “Old Town Road” with a cameo by Billy Ray Cyrus that elicited the biggest cheers of the night.

Black Pumas
(Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Spotify)

Black Pumas performing at The Lot Studios in Los Angeles at the Spotify Best New Artist partty.

Austin, Texas’ Black Pumas (and recent Pollstar Hotstars) are the real funk & soul deal and Eric Burton’s smooth rich voice and moves that dazzle with a super tight backing band. Maggie Rogers’ high-octane set turned beautiful songs like “Give a Little,” “Say It” and “Fallingwater” into foot-stompers; and the multi-hydra headed muse of Tank & The Bangas (June. 2018’s Pollstar cover) combined metal, Broadway, soul, rap, spoken word and far more than a kitchen sink to turn in a powerful and eclectic set that saw Big Easy booty-bouncer Big Freedia join the incredibly charismatic Tarriona “Tank” Ball on stage.

It is telling that all these incredible artists turned out for Spotify, the world’s biggest streaming service and one of the most powerful entities in today’s music business. Lizzo mentioned going to Spotify early in her career when she had “50,000 followers” which she found out from the service were all located in her native Minneapolis. Working with the streaming service, she said, helped get her followers above 40 million and counting. The Best New Artist category’s nominees, according to the service, have racked up a total of more than 15 billion Spotify streams to date. That is power.

The night’s event was also filled with industry power players, including: Glassnote Records’ Daniel Glass, Columbia’s Ron Perry, Harvest Records’ Jacqueline Saturn, ATO Records Jon Salter, Arista’s David Massey, UTA’s Jbeau Lewis and Universal Music Group’s Jonathan Dworkin among others. In addition to Spotify co-heads of music Jeremy Erlich and Marian Dicus  and the streaming service’s chief content officer Dawn Ostroff, there were artists including Lauv, Andy Grammer and Max as well as a bit of Hollywood glamour in the room with actress Kate Beckinsale and model/TV host Heidi Klum. Kudos to the event’s organizers for the night’s incredible ethnic and gender diversity. 

Part and parcel of any Grammy week performance, which was as much on display during the previous night’s Citi Sound Vault’s Brittany Howard superlative performance and Tidal’s Meek Mill show, is the industry chatter and clatter and aggressive schmoozing during performances. It can be annoying AF for the real music heads (and perhaps telling of what’s wrong with this business), but it is far outweighed by the opportunity to see so many incredible artists of this caliber who, while well-deserving of every accolade, nomination and possible award, ultimately transcend any and all popularity contests—if you’re paying attention.