Anyone can make a short list of the artists buzzing right now. Do you have the internet? Yes? Then you know who is buzzing, because you can’t avoid them. Within 20 minutes of them releasing a song, showing up on TV, or just stopping by Tumblr to drop off some pictures of their ever-improving lives, we hear about it. Twitter timelines and feeds fill up with a flurry of slightly varying headlines from all your favorite blogs, who rush to share the news first, hoping that maybe if you see their news story first, you’ll share it with all your lame Facebook friends. The point is: it’s pretty obvious who is going to blow up long before it happens. If you have the internet.
Since this blog’s audience is mostly (just a guess) an internet-having bunch (of idiots), we assume that you’re smart enough to have, at this point, figured out who is going to blow up in 2012. Instead of simply telling you, “Hey guys, this ASAP Rocky fellow is going to get very popular this year,” we’re taking a different route. Here are some artists that we are rooting for–some artists that you might not know yet, who we believe have what it takes.
This isn’t about the championed buzzkings and queens who breeze through pre-planned campaigns while their trophies are already being engraved for them by some guy in a suit who already gave them a handshake and a smile. These are the artists in the early stages of something special, with a few pigeons cheering them on.
Here’s our list of artists we hope blow up in 2012:
Shadows On Stars
Portland indie pop/rock/new-wave/whatever duo Shadows On Stars won us over with “Now You’re Mine,” and they haven’t disappointed since. So far, it’s just been a tease as they gear up to drop the real meat, a full-length project hanging over our heads like a slab of blood-dripping beef. Simple in structure and free of flash, it’s the style that has us craving more. They blend a punkish retro vibe with a head-nodding new energy and a pop sensibility. We can’t even imagine the crowd that these guys would draw, but we’re hoping it’s a big one, because they deserve it.
We’ve been rooting for e-dubble for a while, and we’re hoping 2012 is a big year for him. Being a white rapper is complicated these days. It seems like 95% of the white dudes coming up in the rap game fall cleanly into this “college rap” scene. Nothing against red cups and frat parties, but that stuff is getting repetitive. Rapper/producer e-dubble has power-housed his way into our ear drums with his own brand of honest lyrics and an unmatched passion that bleeds from every song he puts out.
Trevor Powers’ 2011 was a good one. According to us, he had one of the best 25 albums of the year, and sometimes they play his music in Urban Outfitters (where he used to work). Still, a buzzing (and excellent) debut album along with some support from a retailer leaves much to be desired. With 2012 tour dates coming up, we’re rooting for Idaho’s bedroom pop sensation to break through Bon Iver style.
Kids These Days
How come the big rap crews always have to be so rowdy? Sure, they work together well, but groups like Odd Future and Wu-Tang work together more like a riot and less like an orchestra. Kids These Days are somewhere in between those two. Their name is somewhat misleading, because while kids these days seem to be scatterbrained and impatient, Kids These Days blend together live instrumentation with a jazzy, mature feel and a focused energy.
When rappers get famous, they tend to bring other rappers with them. Those “other” rappers tend to be less charismatic, less talented, and less interesting. Sometimes they end up making something of themselves, but usually they get a couple features, put out a solo project that nobody cares about, and disappear in a smoke-bomb of frustration. That’s not the case with Schoolboy Q. While Kendrick Lamar is currently enjoying his time in the spotlight, fellow Compton native and Top Dawg Entertainment associate Schoolboy Q is quietly putting himself in the position for next.
If “Manners” doesn’t get stuck in your head, you must not have a brain capable of grasping pop greatness, because that track is a goddamn pop masterpiece. As always, Sweden delivered in 2011. Icona Pop’s “Manners” is still in our heads, and they proved with songs like “Nights Like These” that they’re capable of recreating that magic and delivering hooks that reel you in for the catch.
King Krule (real name Archy Marshal) may only be 17, but he specializes in the kind of bleak and personal musings on mortality that are normally associated with someone older and with more life experience. While both his dark, personal and sometimes violent lyrics and his knack for crisp, precise production mark him out from the crowd, his most remarkable trait is his astonishingly deep and raw voice. All this stands him in good stead to kick on from this year’s highly acclaimed King Krule EP, and as someone bringing something a bit different to the table, we really hope he does.
If you’re really paying to electronic music, the current epicenter for anything cool going down is in London. America, as of right now, is years behind the pack. One producer, however, is taking us into our future by combining hip-hop and r&b with the bass music trends that are at the forefront of EDM right now. It’s a long shot that Kingdom will really “blow up,” especially when compared with the blunter talents of artists like Skrillex et al. But he’s at the top of his game and he’s got a bubbling, cult-like following that could bring dance music back to the States.
Marcus Foster has had a strong year, releasing the well recieved Tumbledown EP, as well as his debut album Nameless Path. Whether this talented singer/songwriter can reach the same heigts of popularity as London folksters Mumford & Sons (who he’s friends with) and Laura Marling (who he’s toured with) is yet to be seen, but it’s definitely not his connections that have got him recognised. Marcus has a world-weary, grizzled voice, and is as much influenced by the by the new folk scene in London as the more widescreen sound of Neil Young and Tom Waits, which gives him a broad appeal and good basis for a big 2012.
All it took was one song. With “Monster,” it was certain—we are in love. Don’t get it twisted though, Meg Myers is not just another cute songstress. She’s got a powerful voice and a slightly menacing touch that sets her apart from the rest of the pack. We can’t wait to hear more, and while we’d love to keep her all to ourselves, she’s just too good not to share.
Most of the artists featured on this list have built up their reputation and their fanbase through a steady diet of albums, mixtapes, live shows or at least EP releases. Of course, they have a lot further to go, and that’s why we hope they blow up – but Jai Paul is in the peculiar situation of having only one song to his name. Not just one official release, but only one song at all, anywhere, that prospective fans can listen to. Luckily for him, that one song is the superb “BTSTU”, which has recieved primetime radio play, huge internet buzz, and been used by Drake, Beyoncé and Pusha T. Jai Paul is currently working on an album for XL, and while it is unlikely that he will make a whole LP of “BTSTU’s”, as long as there is that same freshness and innovation in his sound, we’ll be happy to see him blow.
The world needs a new superproducer, and Carnage is the man for the job. Style-wise, he’s all over the place. Unlike some guys—erhm Lex Luger ehmhm—he refuses to settle on one signature sound. He produces for other rappers (he did Theophilus London’s collaboration with Kreayshawn), he raps for fun on the side (“Loaded” is the jam), and he also drops random electronic tracks whenever he feels like it. There’s something about him—call it charisma—that inspires a reaction from the internet unlike any other. He even had us talking in hyperbole and calling him a legend. 2012 is going to be a big year for Carnage, and he deserves it. He’s a legend.
Pop music lives in two, very distinct worlds. There’s “pop” and “indie pop.” There are no real rules or defining qualities, but you know it when you hear it. The straightforward, catchy stuff that you hear on the radio is clearly not the same as the obscure indie pop phenoms that garner buzz on the internet. What makes Jhameel so great is that he brings these worlds together. He makes real pop music but does it with the creativity and edge that the indie world brings to the table. It’s excellent stuff.
Ever since we heard G-Eazy‘s “Waspy,” we knew he was onto something special, but we’re just as fickle as the rest of the world, and with the influx of new rappers, holding our attention is hard. Then we heard The Endless Summer. The New Orleans-based rapper is mastering his own style, and from his ’50s-inspired style to his finely tuned flow, he’s starting to stand out more and more in a very crowded space of imitators and followers.