The 2018 Grammy Awards are on Sunday, and it promises to be a good one: look out for live performances of “Wild Thoughts,” “Finesse,” and more. One of the most exciting awards categories is Best New Artist—the award often goes to artists that are just beginning to blow up, and the recognition only fuels them further. Just so you get an idea: Chance the Rapper won in 2016; Macklemore and Ryan Lewis in 2013; Adele in 2008.
This year, there are five nominees in the competitive category: Alessia Cara, Khalid, Lil Uzi Vert, Julia Michaels, and SZA. When it comes to new artists, you can often gauge how popular they are based on their social media presence, as fans will flock to an artist in order to get to know them. Twitter is a good measure of what music fans are thinking, so what if we could try to predict the winner of the Best New Artist category at the 2018 Grammys by analyzing Twitter engagement?
There is no evidence that the voters for the Grammy Awards use any social media metrics to pick the winners of this category. It’s also not like the Grammys never got it wrong, and no one ever accused them of being out of touch with music fans. Nevertheless, there are some interesting takeaways to be had from crunching the Twitter numbers of these five new artists.
In the past year (from January 2017 to present), each nominee has seen significant Twitter growth. There are two ways to look at the numbers: number of mentions and percentage of follower growth in the past year. Julia Michaels comes in last (but not least) with 800,000 mentions; Alessia Cara has 1.6 million. Lil Uzi Vert is third with 2.7 million Twitter mentions. But the top two spots have much higher numbers. SZA comes in second, but not by much: she raked in 7.5 million mentions on the social media platform this year, only bested by Khalid’s 7.9 million.
When it comes to follower growth, Khalid also wins this race. He currently had 1.7 million Twitter followers, and he’s up 26,000 since last January. Julia Michaels comes in second: of her 83,000 followers, 59,000 of them arrived in the past year. SZA has more followers—1.6 million, to be exact—but comes in third in this ranking since she gained 225,000 in the past year. Next comes Lil Uzi Vert, who added 67,000 followers this year to make his 3.6 million follower count. Finally, Alessia Cara currently has 1.1 million followers, which is up 392,000 in January 2017.
Looking at these numbers, Khalid has been one of the most popular new artists of the year, but SZA would be a close second. But to know the real winner, we’ll have to tune in on January 28.