When I was 12-years-old, I remember sitting on the family room couch with my parents and my younger sister waiting for the announcers of the 42st annual Grammy awards to declare the best new artist of 2000.
I was anxious but eager with anticipation. I called the winner weeks before. My gut told me that my idol of the moment, the 20-year-old pop diva Christina Aguilera, would take home the golden statue.
Despite the judgment of family and classmates, I held onto my prediction for dear life, often being subjected to ridicule for my poor choice in a pop princess. Because -- at the time -- Britney Spears (who was also up for the miniature gramophone) was numero uno in the hearts of every other pre-teen soul at my small Jewish day school in Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood.
No one agreed with me, but on the night of awards I crossed my fingers and toes tighter than a mummy from ancient Egypt. My heart throbbed with anticipation. "What if I'm wrong," I thought to myself. "I don't think I could stomach not being right."
Lucky for me, I wasn't.
Christina Aguilera took home the statue that night, beating out her pop princess competitor and Kid Rock of all people. Nothing can beat a booming voice projected from a small woman who has the soul of Aretha Franklin and vocal range of a young Mariah Carey.
Since I've had luck in the past and a decade has flown by, I've decided to take another stab at calling this year's best new artist at the 51st Grammy Awards.
But first -- what does it take to be the best new artist in a year inundated with pop music talents?
Success is essential. The winner needs more than raw musicianship running through their vanes. There has to be more to the artist than what meets the eye. They can't just be a pretty face that sings songs written by a 50-year-old group of men in an office somewhere in Times Square. An "it" factor is necessary.
The reason Christina won best new artist wasn't because she was cute or sang "Genie in a Bottle" better than the average girl in the pop world in 2000. Her talent and charisma outweighed her compition, making her the best candidate for the award.
That's why this year's best new artist will be The Jonas Brothers.
When this family band hit the music scene a year ago, I was skeptical. "Another Hanson?," I thought. "No way, no how." But then, I listened to their records. And, when I say listen, I mean I sat down with an open mind and tried to put myself back into my 12-year-old shoes. I wanted to figure out their appeal beyond the standard "they're cute and sing real pretty therefore any pre-teen/teenage girl will buy anything and everything produced by their promotions team."
After hearing what the had to say, I have to admit those boys have talent. They've got what Christina Aguilera had nine years ago and still has today. They have "it".
And what is "it" exactly?
"It" is what makes an artist everlasting. "It" ensures that a career lasts longer than any one-hit-wonder or survives the sophomore slump when releasing records. "It" is raw talent mixed with an image anyone of any age can relate to, singable song hooks, and a strong yet unique personality.
Kevin, Joe, and Nick Jonas know how to write and are damn good at generating a catchy track with a tune your brain can't erase. The melodies linger long after you've heard them, leaving your head dancing and your foot tapping for hours until you can't stand but listen just one more time in the hope of getting the song out of your recent memory.
You can try all you want, but those boys aren't going anywhere any time soon and neither is there music.
Just catch the fever, 'cuz those Jonas Brothers are "burnin' up" the charts, the airwaves, and the American dancing shoe.
And -- if they don't win best new artist at this year's Grammys -- I will shake my head in disappointment. Don't let me down Academy, these boys deserve it just as much as Christina did when she won nine years ago.
Tracks to Get Your Foot Tappin':