AMAs: A Brief Guide to the New Artist of the Year Nominees

Iggy Azalea - H 2014
Photo by Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP

From indie rock to hip-hop and from gospel to pop, this year’s breakout artists hopped genre barriers to capture the airwaves and their listener’s votes

Despite her hit “Boom Clap” this year, Charli XCX will not be joining 5 Seconds of Summer, Iggy Azalea, Bastille, Sam Smith, and Meghan Trainor as a best new artist of the year nominee at the American Music Awards on Nov. 23. She will, however, get the crowd at L.A. Live’s Nokia Theater “booming” and “clapping” for her fellow newcomers when she takes the stage as the evening’s first performer.

Each of the nominees, listed below, can make a strong case for why they deserve the title of 2014’s best new artist:


The 24-year-old Australian hip-hop artist behind the song of the summer, “Fancy,” leads all of this year’s artists with six AMA nominations, including single of the year (“Fancy”) and the show’s top prize, artist of the year. In April, Azalea released her debut album, The New Classic, and provided accompanying vocals on Ariana Grande’s hit single “Problem.” Recently concluding her New Classic Tour, Azalea has appeared on the Halloween episode of Saturday Night Live with Jim Carrey, and will perform at various holiday concerts throughout December, including KIIS FM’s Jingle Ball at the Staples Center on Dec. 5.


Another act originating from Australia, 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS) consists of Luke Hemmings, Michael Clifford, Calum Hood, and Ashton Irwin, and originally rose to fame a YouTube cover band. In February of 2013, boy-band sensation One Direction invited 5SOS to perform on their Take Me Home Tour, elevating the pop-punk rock band to international fame. After serving a second stint with One Direction in 2014, 5SOS released its self-titled debut album on June 27, 2014 and found success with songs like “Good Girls,” “Amnesia,” and “She Looks So Perfect.” 5SOS will also perform at the American Music Awards on Nov. 23.


The British band, which is made up by Chris Wood, Kyle Simmons, William Farquarson and front man Dan Smith (who originally envisioned Bastille as a solo project), could be considered the most stylistically eclectic nominee in the best new artist category; its debut album, Bad Blood, walks the line between indie rock, pop, and electronica—a combination best exemplified by Bastille’s hit single “Pompeii.”  They are preparing a new mix tape with featured artists such as Lizzo, Haim, and Angel Haze on Dec. 8


Although the British singer/songwriter had his career breakthrough in late 2012 as a featured vocalist on Disclosure’s hit single “Latch,” and earned his first number one single as a featured artist just months later with Naughty Boy’s “La La La,” it wasn’t until he released his debut album In the Lonely Hour this May that he received acclaim as a solo artist. He did, however, win a BRIT Critic’s Choice Award and a BBC Sound of 2014 award in the meantime. 


Not only is Meghan Trainor the only American nominee for best new artist, but she is also the youngest member of the group at 20 years and 11 months. She is also a relative newcomer to the charts, releasing her debut EP, All About That Bass in June 2014. In less than six months, however, the singer/songwriter has already risen to prominence in the music industry thanks to her blend of doo-wop, pop, and soul sounds and her empowering message about body image to young women around the world. Recently, Trainor announced her first headlining tour, That Bass Tour, which is scheduled to begin Feb. 11, 2015 in Vancouver and concludes on Mar. 20, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.