The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) released its “Class of 2022” list Wednesday night, celebrating the 39 freshman artists who had records go gold or platinum during the last calendar year. The news was mixed, though — although 39 is a healthy crop of newcomers to have singles break through, none of those artists had a full album reach gold status, and Gayle was the sole performer on the list to have a single go multiplatinum.
Gayle’s Atlantic Records release “Abcdefu” was certified three-times platinum last year, far outstripping any of her freshman competitors; platinum was as high as any of the others got with a single. Country newcomer Bailey Zimmerman also had a good reason to pop a champagne cork, though. The Warner Music Nashville/Elektra singer-songwriter was the sole new artist with two singles reaching platinum status, “Fall in Love” and “Rock and a Hard Place.”
More from Variety
Of the 10 artists that are up for best new artist at the 2023 Grammys, only Muni Long is represented, with a platinum award for her single “Hrs & Hrs.” The other artists nominated for Grammys either weren’t eligible for this RIAA list because they had a record reach gold status or better in a previous year (as Maneskin did) or because they didn’t reach the 500,000 sales plateau.
If you’re wondering why the breakout star of the past year, Zach Bryan, is not on the RIAA Class of 2022 list, it’s because he came into the year already bearing a gold single. His song “Going South” came out in 2019 and was certified gold in 2021 before reaching platinum status this past year. (Bryan added a second platinum single to his collection in 2022 with “Something in the Orange.”)
The RIAA compiled its annual “class of” list by looking at artists who had their first gold or platinum certification in 2022 on a recording that came out in 2021 or 2022.
The thinness of this year’s list points up that there weren’t many newbies in 2022 who became culturally ubiquitous, apart from Gayle and Bryan (neither of whom, shockingly, got a best new artist Grammy nomination). This is in contrast to the RIAA’s Class of 2021, which had Olivia Rodrigo claiming a double-platinum album and three multiplatinum singles, along with Pooh Shiesty getting a triple-platinum single on top of a gold album. The overall number of artists represented on the list was 43 for 2021 and 53 at the end of 2020.
As noted earlier, the column for gold or platinum albums from newcomers in 2022 is a blank space, and Gayle is the sole resident of the category for multiplatinum singles. But there are seven singles that reached the platinum mark — the two aforementioned ones from Zimmerman and the Muni Long song, plus “Build a Bitch” by Bella Poarch, “Numb Little Bug” by Em Beihold, “SleazyWorld Go” by Sleazy Flow and “Until I Found You” by Stephen Sanchez.
The list of new artists achieving their first gold single is a much longer one, including Acraze, Anne Wilson, Armani White, Avery Anna, Benson Boone, BoyWithUke, Chase Matthew, Clinton Kane, Corey Kent, D4vd, Dax, Emmy Meli, Fireboy DML, FL Dusa, GloRilla, Jax, Jessia, Jessie Murph, JVKE, Lauren Spencer Smith (who had two cuts go gold), Leah Kate, Mareaux, Nate Smith, Nessa Barrett, PGF Nuk, RealestK, Rema, Remble, Sarah Cothran, Smiley, Twice and Warren Zeiders.
The full lists can be explored here.
Best of Variety