Haters always gonna hate, but one young artist has been getting more hate than most after taking home a well-deserved trophy on Jan. 28. Alessia Cara responded to the backlash over her Grammy win for Best New Artist, and the heartfelt message she posted to the naysayers on Instagram was a powerful plea asking them to back off. The 21-year-old singer was nominated for Best New Artist alongside Khalid, Lil Uzi Vert, Julia Michaels, and SZA, and some fans have been saying that Cara didn't deserve to win.
One of the main criticisms in regards to Cara's win has been focused on whether or not the singer — who's first single, "Here," charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2015 — should have been considered a "new artist" in the first place. Cara had a direct response for this particular criticism, and wrote in her Instagram post that she was "well aware that [her] music wasn't released yesterday," and that she was also "aware that, yes, [her] music has become fairly popular in the last year." You can read her complete statement below.
to address the apparent backlash regarding winning something I had no control over: I didn’t log onto grammy.com and submit myself. that’s not how it works. I didn’t ask to be submitted either because there are other artists that deserve the acknowledgment. but I was nominated and won and I am not going to be upset about something I’ve wanted since I was a kid, not to mention have worked really hard for. I meant everything I said about everyone deserving the same shot. there is a big issue in the industry that perpetuates the idea that an artist’s talent and hard work should take a back seat to popularity and numbers. and I’m aware that my music wasn’t released yesterday, I’m aware that, yes, my music has become fairly popular in the last year. but I’m trying very hard to use the platform I’ve been given to talk about these things and bring light to issues that aren’t fair, all while trying to make the most of the weird, amazing success I’ve been lucky enough to have. I will not let everything I’ve worked for be diminished by people taking offence to my accomplishments and feeling the need to tell me how much I suck. here’s something fun! I’ve been thinking I suck since I was old enough to know what sucking meant. I’ve beat u to it. And that’s why this means a lot to me. despite my 183625 insecurities, I’ve been shown that what I’ve created is worth something and that people actually give a shit. all of the years feeling like I wasn’t good at anything or that I was naive for dreaming about something improbable have paid off in a way that I have yet to process. I know it sounds cheesy and dumb but it’s the honest truth. thanks to everyone who’s shown me kindness and support along the way. I’ll stop talking now.
Cara wasn't the only Best New Artist nominee who had achieved some success before 2017, however. In 2016, Lil Uzi Vert scored his first solo hit with "Money Longer," which peaked at No. 54 on the Hot 100. Even further back than that, SZA's debut album, Z, reached No. 39 on the Billboard 200 in 2014. And while neither SZA nor Lil Uzi Vert were truly considered to be super-stars until 2017, the same could be said for Cara's multi-year ascension into the general pop-consciousness.
Another point that Cara made in her Instagram post had to do with Best New Artist eligibility. "I didn’t log onto grammy.com and submit myself," she wrote. "[That’s] not how it works. I didn’t ask to be submitted either because there are other artists that deserve the acknowledgment." In 2016, the Recording Academy amended the previous Best New Artist eligibility guidelines, in order "to remove the album [release date] barrier given current trends in how new music and developing artists are released and promoted."
These changes were likely made as a direct response to the rise of music streaming services in recent years, with one newly-amended pillar of eligibility, in particular, that serves to specifically address the moment that an artist achieves widespread popularity. According to the Recording Academy, a Best New Artist nominee, "[must] have achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and impacted the musical landscape during the eligibility period." The definition of what they consider to be an artist's "breakthrough" moment isn't exactly clear, but Cara — along with all of the other Best New Artist nominees this year — definitely had some serious successes in 2017.
The heart of Cara's Instagram response, however, isn't about eligibility, or charts, or anyone's definition of success. Her words come off in a very vulnerable way, and it's easy to see that she's just straight-up hurt by what critics of her Grammy win have been saying. "I will not let everything I’ve worked for be diminished by people taking [offense] to my accomplishments and feeling the need to tell me how much I suck," she wrote.
Cara didn't owe anyone an explanation for anything after winning the Grammy for Best New Artist — but, because of the rampant backlash, she decided to take the opportunity to let fans know what she was feeling. No matter which Best New Artist nominee you may think was most deserving, every single artist has put in work to achieve their dreams — and this year, it was Cara's turn to achieve one of hers.