Grammys 2015: Which Artist Could Get the Biggest Career Bump?

Sam Smith Holding all his Grammys - H 2015
AP Images/Invision

Sam Smith Holding all his Grammys - H 2015

A solid showing at the Grammys can help launch artists. Who stands to pop this year?

The music industry has changed so much that it’s tougher to gauge what a Grammy win can do for an artist’s career. Last night made this even more difficult by only handing out 10 total awards in the almost four hours of televised time. How can you, for example, measure what two rap Grammy wins can do for Kendrick Lamar’s career when they were handed out in a mostly empty Staples Center and revealed to the world through running blogs and press releases? 
Instead, who won a Grammy is perhaps not as important now as who performed at the Grammys. With that in mind, here’s a look at who may gain some new fans based on their showing on Sunday night.
Ed Sheeran
The soulful English singer-songwriter left the Grammys winless (he was nominated for three awards). But he was also the only performer to take the Grammys stage twice, and owned it both times. His selection of company didn’t hurt. He first took the stage with … can we can we call them a supergroup? Oh sure, why not: John Mayer, Herbie Hancock and Questlove all backed Sheeran on an effective version of "Thinking Out Loud." Then moments later, Sheeran reappeared and joined ELO for a fairly fabulous version of "Mr. Blue Sky." The singer is a massive success in his home country (he’ll be headlining Wembley Stadium this summer on his world tour for x). Last night’s exposure can only help his success across the pond.
The Colombian musician may not be a household name in the U.S., but he’s the owner of 20 Latin Grammys and two Grammys for latin pop album. Last night, he received a spotlight and unleashed a Spanish-language rendition of "Juntos" with a solid backing band. The dude simply looked like he was having a blast, which made him stand out. Latin music is growing in popularity in the U.S. and this kind of infectious performance can only push Juanes.

The indignation from Beyoncé fans (yes, including you, Kanye) to singer-songerwriter Beck "stealing" the Grammy for album of the year is pretty amusing. It’s also funny that, after 20 years, people are still wondering who Beck is. This isn’t Bon Iver! OK, Beck had been MIA for the past six years before releasing Morning Phase, and yes, his popularity peak was in the mid-‘90s, back when he was first a “Loser” and then dressing up in goofy outfits to boogie across stages supporting Odelay. If his two wins turn a younger generation on to those early albums, all the better. One other suggestion: If you discovered Beck with Morning Phase, rush out and pick up 2002’s crushing Sea Change. It’s similar in tone and theme, a break-up album that, at its best, is on par with Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks and Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love. Look, it’s OK to be upset about Beyoncé, but Beck deserves this, too.

If you didn’t know Sia before last night, you sure do now. You just don’t know her face. Welcome to the club. Her "performance" — complete with a Shia LaBeouf free verse poem intro and a Kristen Wiig interpretive dance — of "Chandelier" will become stuff of Grammy legend. Anything that bizarre will definitely earn Sia some new fans.

Sam Smith
Like Sheeran, Sam Smith is huge in England. After last night, he may be on that type of trajectory in America. It wasn’t just winning four Grammys (though that’ll help). He was a pillar of humility every time he accepted an award. "I just want to say that before this album, I tried everything to try to get my music heard. I tried losing weight, and I was making terrible music. It wasn’t until I started being myself that people started to listen." That’s beautiful stuff right there. He topped a near-perfect evening in transforming his hit “Stay With Me” into a gorgeous duet with Mary J. Blige, one that you could argue was better than the album version. On the Grammys stage. What else does Smith need to skyrocket?