Previously, my end-of-year lists have covered artists who were overrated and artists who were worthy of the acclaim they received. In this final installment, I want to put a few bands and artists on your radar that you may not know yet, but who are showing promise and momentum, and whom you’re likely to hear a lot more from in 2014. Here they are, in no particular order (except for the two “dark horses” at the end).
Our electronic music correspondent Jon O’Brien first introduced us to Banks back in September, but for the many thousands who have already fallen in love with her electro-R&B sound, she needs no introduction. Banks has already topped many end-of-year lists and start-of-year lists, her music drawing a following on Soundcloud early on before people even actually knew who she was. Her EP London is already a success; look for a full-length sometime this year.
A Great Big World
This piano-pop driven duo has already seen chart success with their mournful single “Say Something,” boosted even more when Christina Aguilera lent her harmonies to it and performed it with them several times on national television. Their debut album Is There Anybody Out There? is slated for a January 21 release. I have a feeling they’re only going upward from here.
Chance the Rapper
This young Chicago-based rapper got several huge boosts in 2013, including a guest verse on Lil Wayne’s Dedication 5 mixtape and opening tour slots with the likes of Eminem and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. His free mixtape Acid Rap has seen hundreds of thousands of downloads. Watch for this guy to keep climbing.
After first getting on people’s radar last year by featuring on the Disclosure hit “Latch,” this UK-based singer-songwriter has gone on to win the BRIT Critic’s Choice award in December for his R&B-tinged electro-soul vibe. There is already a lot of well-deserved anticipation for his debut album In the Lonely Hour, which arrives in May.
Betty Who (dark horse)
One of two “dark horse” artists on this list, New York-by-way-of-Australia singer Betty Who first got international attention last September when her song “Somebody Loves You” showed up in a viral marriage proposal video. That stroke of luck led to her being signed by RCA Records, who will be releasing her debut album this year. She’s definitely got some momentum which could potentially be parlayed into mainstream success this year.
NONONO (dark horse)
This Stockholm-based trio has been generating a lot of attention with their dark synth-pop sound over the past year. A million-plus streams of their single “Pumpin Blood” led to over three million views of the subsequent official video for the song on YouTube. A debut album is due out this year.