Winning Year: 2015
Built to Last: After accepting the Best New Artist award, the British singer continued his huge year from there. He re-released “Lay Me Down” as a chart-topping single, also teaming up with John Legend for a reimagining of the emotional track. A few months later he picked up the honors of Top Male Artist, Top New Artist, and Top Radio Songs Artist at the Billboard Music Awards, also winning Best New Artist at the BET Awards. He went on to work with Disclosure for the hit song “Omen” and saw his debut studio album, 2014’s In the Lonely Hour, get certified multiplatinum. Smith capped off his banner year by nabbing the honor of recording “Writing’s on the Wall,” the theme song for 2015’s James Bond movie, Spectre.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Winning Year: 2014
Built to Last: While the Seattle-based duo has been recording and releasing music since the late 2000s, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis earned the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2014. The performers had a quiet few months after taking home the award, reemerging in 2015 with plans for new music. Macklemore paid tribute to his newborn daughter in August of that year with “Growing Up (Sloane’s Song),” and dropped “Downtown” soon after, climbing the charts with the single. The two are expected to debut the sophomore album This Unruly Mess I’ve Made on Feb. 26, 2016.
Winning Year: 2013
Built to Last: After taking the win, no one could accuse the “We Are Young” boys of resting on their gold-plated laurels. Singer Nate Ruess asserted his staying power with the powerful Pink duet “Just Give Me a Reason” (which earned two nominations), while the in-demand guitarist-songwriter Jack Antonoff lent his talents to artists such as Sara Bareilles (he co-wrote the Grammy-nominated “Brave”), Tegan and Sara (“How Come You Don’t Want Me”), and Taylor Swift (“Sweeter Than Fiction”), before forming the band Bleachers.
Winning Year: 1965
Built to Last: The Liverpool lads snagged the award the same night that ”A Hard Day’s Night” won them Best Performance by a Vocal Group (though their ”I Wanna Hold Your Hand” lost Record of the Year to Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz’s ”The Girl From Ipanema”). Needless to say, the band managed to outdo themselves both creatively and commercially thereafter — and snag five more Grammys, to boot.
Crosby, Stills & Nash
Winning Year: 1970
Built to Last: Some are still sore about Led Zeppelin’s loss, which is fair enough. Still, this supergroup — David Crosby (of the Byrds), Stephen Stills (Buffalo Springfield), Graham Nash (The Hollies), and, later, Neil Young — left a considerable footprint that continues to influence contemporary folk, rock, and country music.
Winning Year: 1974
Built to Last: Considering how many different ways she’s embedded herself in pop culture over the years, it’s strange to think that Bette Midler was once a ”new artist.” Since then, the wind beneath her wings has taken her everywhere from The First Wives Club to Johnny Carson’s last hurrah.
Winning Year: 1986
Built to Last: In 1985, Sade invaded American charts with her smooth-operating R&B, and the Sphinx-like songstress was just getting started. On both sides of the Atlantic, her name has became synonymous with serenely soulful songs about the L-word (see: future Grammy-winning output like 1994’s ”No Ordinary Love,” 2002’s Lovers Rock, and 2011’s ”Soldier of Love”).
Winning Year: 1991
Built to Last: The honey-voiced bombshell has basically become her own brand in the 20-plus years since she first took home hardware for ”Vision of Love.” Her career has had so many chapters, you can refer to them in one-word eras: ”Butterfly,” ”Glitter,” ”Mimi,” ”#dembabies,” ”Idol.”
Winning Year: 2000
Built to Last: The famous matchup this year pitted two Mouseketeers-turned-pop stars against each other: Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Both went on to find remarkable commercial success, but the Academy undoubtedly chose the bigger vocal talent; with her powerful pipes and empowering persona, Aguilera went on to be a consistent chart presence. Hits like ”Beautiful” and ”Lady Marmalade” also earned her trips back to the Grammys and qualified her as a judge on The Voice.
Winning Year: 2002
Built to Last: She took home a whopping five awards in 2002, and the girl is still on fire to this day. In the 10-plus years since, she’s won nine additional Grammys and continued to raise her profile — just ask President Obama, who had her sing at his inauguration ball, and the NFL, which invited her to perform the National Anthem at Super Bowl XLVII.
Winning Year: 2005
Built to Last: The L.A. band won the trophy on an album that was actually released in 2002. But once the slow-to-impact Songs About Jane gained traction, they made sure not to lose it. M5 steadily became one of radio’s most reliable rock bands, and their persistence has paid off: their subsequent three albums, including 2012’s Overexposed, all debuted at either No. 1 or No. 2, earning frontman Adam Levine a plum seat in one of TV talent shows’ most coveted spinning chairs on The Voice.
Winning Year: 2007
Built to Last: Not only did the American Idol winner take home two awards at her first turn at the Grammys, she showed up the next three years and won each time, and then took home another one in 2013. The country queen keeps blowing away audiences with her knack for big, irresistible, pop-friendly singles.
Winning Year: 2009
Built to Last: In a stunningly short time, the diamond-certified Adele has become the kind of champion that makes Grammy prognosticators know better than to bet against her. The record-breaking success of 21 is incredible — you probably own five copies of the thing — and the singer is generally credited for single-handedly boosting an industry in decline. She chalked up another win in 2014 for ”Skyfall” in the Best Song Written For Visual Media category.
Next: Five who didn’t last…
Starland Vocal Band
Winning Year: 1977
Just a Flash: In a particularly bad year for the category, the Academy was taken by artists doomed for the dust bin: Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band (”Cherchez La Femme”), Wild Cherry (”Play That Funky Music”), and this winning group, famous for ”Afternoon Delight” and little else. Meanwhile, the arena-rock giant Boston, which has sold more than 30 million albums to date, went home empty-handed, and acts like the Runaways, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and the Ramones were snubbed entirely.
Winning Year: 1992
Just a Flash: You’d be hard-pressed to find someone on the street who couldn’t sing at least some of the lyrics to ”Walking in Memphis.” But asking that person to name another — any other — song by the adult-contemporary relic? Unless you’ve accosted Cohn himself, the poor passerby will simply give you a look of confusion and terror.
Winning Year: 1990
Just a Flash: The names Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus don’t mean much to today’s kids, but back in the big bad ’80s, they were synonymous with Milli and Vinilli, the dance-pop duo behind platinum hits like ”Girl You Know It’s True” and ”Blame It on the Rain.” Of course, Rob and Fab weren’t behind those hits at all, and their lip-synching controversy prompted the Academy to strip the pretenders of their Grammys.
Winning Year: 1993
Just a Flash: The consensus back in ’92 was that this alternative rap group — the first to win the award — was the sound of hip-hop’s future. Instead, the ”Tennessee” group went down as one of the genre’s biggest letdowns. The (De La) soulful sound and conscious-tipped rhymes of their debut arrived just when the style was on its way out, clearing the way for the kind of parental-advisory gangsta rap popularized by N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton and solidified by Dr. Dre’s The Chronic.
Winning Year: 1998
Just a Flash: The singer-songwriter burst out of the gate with the question ”Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” and, before anyone could answer, she gave us ”I Don’t Want to Wait,” best known as the theme to Dawson’s Creek. The atmospheric one-two punch was enough to best Fiona Apple, Erykah Badu, and the artist formerly known as Puff.